''Play like they do on The Wire,'' spits the experienced buyer as a drug deal goes down in Bayo Ojikutu's new novel, Free Burning. The dealer and the book's mind-wandering narrator is a college-educated, unemployed black man in Chicago. Tagged a ''square'' by hardcore thugs around him, he goes deeper into the world of drugs and corruption, though he pulls back and narrowly avoids being swallowed up in his virulent neighborhood. The reference to HBO's crime drama (at the height of its zeitgeist moment, no less) couldn't be more on point. Told in a blurry, memoir-like fashion, Ojikutu's unapologetic story is a dialogue-heavy meditation on desperation and drugs.