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The Good Hand Reviews

The Good Hand by Michael Patrick F. Smith

The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown

Michael Patrick F. Smith

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: William Collins
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 4 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9780008399436

'Thrillingly and wrenchingly funny ... like Educated and Hillbilly Elegy, The Good Hand is one of those brilliant close-ups that suddenly flips to become a wide shot of the American moment. An engrossing combination of participation, reportage, self-discovery, and witness' David Lipsky

4 stars out of 5
28 Feb 2021

" a gritty tale of life in a North Dakota oilfield"

This lyrical and engrossing memoir is an extraordinary tale of how in 2013, aged 36, Smith quit his life as an actor and playwright in New York and travelled 2,000 miles to Williston, North Dakota, to work as an oilfield “swamper”. More than the lure of money, he wanted to test his limits and shed a painful past.

Smith writes movingly of his chaotic childhood as one of six siblings growing up in rural Maryland with a “rageaholic” father. The tragedies slowly drip out: one sister died in a car crash aged 16 and another was sexually abused by their father; one brother was into drugs and crime by 11 and another was committed to a mental hospital aged 14.