The Fighter

The FighterThe Fighter by Michael Farris Smith
on March 20th 2018
Pages: 256
ISBN: 0316432342
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No one writes desperation quite like Michael Farris Smith. He writes characters who have given all they can possibly give, who have their back against the wall, who have a hard life, who don’t have any steam left, who have already dug down deep into their souls for that last bit of strength…he writes about survivors, the downtrodden, the damaged and the fighters. He writes about pain, both physical and emotional. It all so very sad and yet beautiful at the same time. He is a gifted writer who draws you into his characters bleak world and shows you that last little bit of light they still have burning deep down inside of them.

The unforgiving Mississippi Delta sets the stage for this book. Jack is a fighter. In many ways, he has been a fighter his entire life. Abandoned as a baby, he was placed in foster care and eventually found a home with his foster mother, Maryann. Both were outcasts in a way – Jack the foster kid, Maryann a lesbian who society looked down upon. Both fought in their own quiet ways against the views and harsh judgement of society, until one day, Jack decided to use his fists. From that point on, there was no turning back. Now, Jack is in debt to Big Momma Sweet, the queen of the Delta vice who in unforgiving and who Jack owes a large sum of money. Maryann is in a nursing home and Jack is dealing with the physical ravages of being a fighter- severe headaches and bodily pains. He has been broken and beaten so many times he must write things down in a notebook, so he can remember them. In the delta, there is no rest for the weary. All he wants is to be done and pay his debt. But life is not kind and circumstances beyond his control pop up and forces him to fight for his memory, his life and his chance at paying off his debt.

While reading this book, I thought of the movie “The Wrestler”. The story-lines are not the same, but the themes are: a man, past his prime, pushing himself to the limit. Struggling against not only his mind, but his body to have glory one last time. Again, that word “desperation” pops up. Will Jack’s story end with a happy ending or a blaze of glory?

Jack is not alone in this book. He also becomes introduced to a 23-year-old tattooed carnival worker who is looking for answers on a quest to get them. Will a chance encounter between Jack and Annette, be the answer they both are looking for? Can rights ever be wronged?

Michael Farris Smith is such a gifted Author. He doesn’t write fairy tales folks, he writes about raw pain, using real characters who struggle and have scars. I feel as if I am in the hands of a master when reading a novel by Smith. He knows how to write pain, he knows how to write redemption, desperation and hope. I don’t know what else to say except fans of Smith will not be disappointed. Beautifully written and moving, The Fighter does not disappoint. Highly recommend!

. Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and NetGalley who provided me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Desperation Road

Desperation RoadDesperation Road by Michael Farris Smith
on February 7th 2017
Pages: 289
ISBN: 0316353035
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WOW! Just WOW!

For once I read a book slow. I savored this book. So wonderfully and eloquently written. Powerful book about loss, bad choices, heartbreak, pain, suffering, serving time, starting over and second chances. Two people marked by violence who are trying to create a better life for themselves while the world keeps kicking them in the teeth. How much can one person take?

Russell Gaines served 11 years in Parchman penitentiary. On the day of his release, brothers Larry and Wyatt were waiting to “welcome” him home. Larry and Walt are the brothers of the man, Russell killed years earlier while drinking and driving. They have a score to settle and do not see Russell’s time served as punishment enough. He wants to start over and live his life, but quickly learns that is easier said than done.

Maben and her daughter, Annalee, have been walking along the freeway carrying all of their possessions in a trash bag. Maben is hoping for a break – for something to make their lives better. Maben uses what money they have left to get a motel room for the night. A place to rest from the punishing heat. That night, worried about money and their dismal future, she makes a decison. She hopes to make some money but decides against it but it is too late. She falls into an even worse situation. A situation that is horrific, frightening, demeaning and results in a fatal shooting. Now Mabel and her daughter need to find a way to leave town safely and hopefully, just hopefully, start over.

It is only a matter of time before Russel and Mabel’s paths collide. Thrown together by chance they learn that it is a small world after all and that they do have a connection. Russell figures out their connection first and soon all of the pieces fall together. Russell feels a need to protect Mabel and her daughter and asks his father to allow them to stay in his barn. Russell knows he is putting himself at risk, but he feels a strong need to protect them no matter what the cost is to him.

Can I gush? This book was AMAZING!! I want to give this book a standing ovation. It was so beautifully written. The pacing and the story progressed at the right speed. Nothing felt rushed. The love, the loss, the pain was seering. Smith’s writing is haunting and eloquent. I have not read anything by Smith before, but I am going to go binge read his other books now. What I loved most about this book was the characters. They are flawed, they are beaten down, but they don’t give up. His characters are real, their pain is real, their desire to start over feels real. This book is full of revenge, retribution, loss, suffering, pain, but also there is hope, second chances and decency.

This book is going to end up on my favorite books of the year list. I loved every single page of it! This is the type of book, I love to fall into. So well written, so engrossing, so captivating. Read slowly and savor every single beautifully placed word. This book will not disappoint.

I highly recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.