From an Artist’s Life in Brooklyn to North Dakota’s Oil Fields
A Memorial of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation into an American Boomtown
By Michael Patrick F. Smith
Michael Patrick F. Smith’s memoir about working in the North Dakota oil fields Who is “The Good Hand”? Those who make the point of our political division will not get condemnation of the oil business; Celebration of oil business; An explanation of how it works; An exposure to careless oil-field behavior; A sociological analysis of Smith’s often rough, always republican co-workers; Or “Hillbilly Allegi” indifference to the way life rolled, spit. Prior to his nine-month stint as a “swapper,” helping drilling and rigging a good site, Smith was an actor, musician, and playwright in which Brooklyn matched liberal politics.
Readers appearing in “The Good Hand” are uninterrupted in the instruments already running – which, well, everyone – will also get a memoir in front, which is both a quiet watchman and an “adrenaline freak” in Smith’s self-portraiture Will be as small as. Redemptive transformations sold by the book’s subtitles. After his return from North Dakota, Smith’s life was off the rails.
It can, in other words, be a book that does not please anyone.
And yet, Smith eventually began working in the oil field, in June 2013, the memoir tightened his grip with his action and portrayal of men. Smith brings an alchemical genius to describe the manual labor, which comes with numb fingers, swinging cranes, precarious feet, damp shoes, hooks, chains, and extreme cold. He not only writes scenes of work with precision, but also treats accuracy with reverence himself: understanding and working properly allows him to overcome his tenderness, ignorance, and fear. A negative-38-degree day was “one of the best days of my life”, he writes, and it also provides the best chapter in the book.
With a playwright’s talent for dialogue, being in the short story and out of the way, Smith writes dozens of scenes of men, joking and talking endlessly – here are some stoics, or women – pickups, sublets, In job sites and bars. “I’m a good listener, and I’m in no hurry to do it justice,” Bucken writes of spending time with experienced professionals, local residents and drifters in the final days of the oil boom. Smith never heard what he heard and saw: homophobia, misogyny, racism, and the much-regretted boast of past crimes. But he does not define men either. He concentrates on works like his hawk-field “brothers” like Hawk, a charismatic giant with a brilliant squad for trouble, and in his real family, marked by bad luck and a bad father. By doing so, he refuses to spoon-feed us to pass judgment; His writing keeps people alive in his history, talent, humor and mistakes.
There is a unifying principle in Smith’s depiction: oil-field slang good hands for a worker. “A good hand,” Smith writes, “shows up quickly. He is present. He listens. A good hand carries the heaviest load every time, takes on dirt, works hardest and does not complain. Is. A good hand makes the hands around it better. “
“Nobody has a good hand all the time,” Smith qualified. And this is the essence of his book. It does not catharsis or change too much. It instead brings into perspective how people, including Smith, can sometimes rise above their worst people through unequal, demanding, difficult work. This perspective is an ethic, and a relief in a world quick to dismiss, quick to divide, and quick to believe that American work is now only about collecting data and selling knowledge. And so maybe by writing a book that nobody likes, Smith wrote a book that should be read.