Thursday, October 20, 2011
Review of Nigel Bird's novel, SMOKE
What a delight Nigel Bird’s novel, Smoke was to read! Not simply because it was a crackling good story, wondrously told (which it is), but it was simply refreshing since it began with the depantsing of a young boy and then centered around a dog fight. In these days in this country (U.S.) of rampant Political Correctness gone absolutely amuck and insane—when great books such as Huckleberry Finn are sanitized to suck the very marrow out of their brilliance to satisfy some politicized bullshit group or other who aren’t satisfied to run just their lives or thoughts but want to control the rest of us, refreshing is precisely the word to describe work like Bird’s. With groups of grim-faced citizens who appear to have sphincteritis extremis along with a secret handshake and generous funding for television ads seeking to control the rest of us—it seems to be up to the Brits to show us what this freedom of speech thing that we read about in history books is all about.
Personally, I like dogs. I find most breeds to be fine eating, and, if harvested at younger ages, approaching gourmet status, particularly when sage is used judiciously and not overmuch.
This is a great piece of fiction that shows us a world many aren’t exposed to—that’s a value in itself—but more, it shows how young boys are shaped by the cruelty visited upon them. Now that is valuable. If Jimmy hadn’t been depantsed, if he hadn’t grown up in a world of gamblers and dog fights and people rendered cruel and hard by their circumstances, if he had instead received that moronic version of family life ala the Beave and his kin, then he might have turned out to be a nice man, living in the suburbs, fussing over his lawn, and looking forward to each day selling life insurance and playing golf on the weekends and wondering if his medical insurance will buy his Viagra. But, he didn’t, and neither do millions of other young boys. And, it’s a good thing when a novelist shows us these worlds we perhaps aren’t exposed to. It’s a good thing to see how life smacks down people and shapes them in ways that aren’t good. How else would we know? And if we don’t know, how can we ever hope to change lives and conditions of living?
From billboards and bumper stickers?
Get this novel. It’s the real deal.