When reading tonight, while thunderstorms pelted the centipeded clay and sand with rains, one of the books was Michael Farris Smith’s Nick. It hit many of my bells: American literary fiction, war novel, a protagonist who has been through combat and battles with what it means “to return,” faith in the God of the Bible vs. the void, the prospects of family, baggage (what soldiers often bring to relationships), the ‘establishment’ in its garishness, et al.
Smith’s story plays upon Fitzgerald’s Nick Carraway, upon all-things-Gatsby, upon Hemingway, upon 1920s expats in France, sipping cognac and wine and reading T.S. Eliot and James Joyce and William Faulkner.
These are formative writers for anyone who knows and longs to learn from masters, regardless of their theologies. I’m a believer, and so would be distinct from many of the American masters, but God’s not consumed with counting noses, and so I’ll go with God.
But Smith is on to something in this piece (as he is with his other pieces). He sees things, important things, things worth writing about.