I've enjoyed Nigel Bird's short fiction for years. He imbues his characters with such a vital and fragile humanity that you feel as if you're watching a nature documentary about a doomed species who cannot change their ways. His novella Smoke is no exception. We follow two sad victims of the local thugs pushed so far they seek revenge at whatever cost. Carlo, the wheelchair bound chip shop owner, and Jimmy, a bully's target carrying scars inside and out. Like two trains on the same track, they thunder toward destiny as the thugs hold a dogfight rumble in town and money pours in. Full of colorful grotesques like Eddie the ice cream truck man and Jimmy's washed up criminal father trying to restore an old Capri as if it will repair his own soul, Smoke takes you into the cruel landscape of urban decay where the cost of living might be the ability to live with one's self.
*due diligence. Nigel is a friend of mine and has interview me on his blog Sea Minor.
© 2011 Thomas Pluck