Vacation. Beach. Drink. Read. Rinse. Repeat. In consuming F250 by the Bud Smith we are reminded of something we've written about here before - writers will write origin stories that might even feel like debut novels even if they're not. We all have the arc of one within us - our path, and our journey, how we got from some beginning point to some kind of redemption, or at least the next point in our lives - the next story, or journey. The challenge is telling the story anew, with fresh wrinkles, and observations that cause us to experience the origin story from a new perspective. And from this perspective Smith has accomplished both the new and the fresh. Yes, we have a young man both trying escape where he came from and find something new - a future, or an identity, some kind of closure or answers. In this case it's a young man from nowhere, with no true family, and little stability. But he has friends and music and the state of New Jersey - everything from refineries to mountains - and it is here where Smith makes the story his own. These are blue collar characters from a blue collar place. They build things - when they're not destroying them - and they dream, big, before they crash. They are outsiders, steps from New York City, but not there at all. They live in a parallel world where moving to big cities and things like going to college barely exist as options - they are certainly not assumed - until they do. And it is this outsiderness of the characters where Smith comes to life, because we so rarely see these characters on the page - something else we've written about here before, but that makes it no less true - and by extension we much too rarely get to read authors like Smith who exist outside of the world of AWP and MFA programs.
Still, between the drugs and the fights and the trucks, the characters are alive, and in that way Smith is reminiscent of his contemporary Brian Alan Ellis - who we've written about here before as well - and it is no surprise that the two of them have a split book titled Tables Without Chairs #1 dropping this coming week. Tables Without Chairs #1 is a platform for what both authors do so well - revel in characters who are scraping by, and like them, living both inside and outside the established literary world. It's also a reminder that there are a wealth of authors out there, writing, creating and telling stories, who are not waiting around to be found, but are certainly ripe for discovery.