Ben Hersey. Magic Helicopter Press, $16 paperback (303p) ISBN: 978-0-9964143-2-6
“...love is hot rain, you get caught in it, you get scorched, period.” So says the narrator Steve Industry in Hersey’s outstanding debut about an eastern Massachusetts man struggling day to day to keep himself and his relationships from shattering into a million pieces. Told in four seasons beginning with summer, the book is a prose explosion of personal vision and human connection. Steve lives his life with a frantic poetry, juggling work (batting cage manager and bus driver) and play (vocalist and harmonica player in the band the Steamrollers) and family (wife Saundra and five-year-old daughter Nancy). Things begin to unravel for Steve when Saundra grows weary of his particular brand of affection (“...my wife is always trying to get me to love her a little less psychedelically…”) and she begins to challenge his life choices. Torn between his responsibilities as a family man, his deep loyalty to his friends and bandmates, and his sense of self and place, Steve drinks, snorts, and howls his way through, sometimes gleaning his finest insights via the precocious wisdom of his daughter. After kindly reprimanding her one day for using a curse word, things play out thusly: “She said, ‘But, Daddy, I’m a grown woman.’ I looked at her and it was fucked up because I realized in that moment that I was looking to see if she was correct. Yesterday was twenty minutes ago or twenty years ago, what do I know?” The real joy of the work is the way the hyper-kinetic prose gushes with emotion and heart, but never in an overwhelmingly sentimental way. Hersey’s innovative analysis/poetic breakdown of the life experience is a pure pleasure to behold. (December 2016)
Purchase The Autograph of Steve Industry HERE.
Reviewer bio: Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel Freight. Visit him at melbosworth.com