"A sprawling, heart-smeared-on-the-page howl of rage and pain. “The Good Hand” is a rambling honky-tonk of a book, with the soul of a songwriter and the ache of a poor white boy who grew up rough. It is big and it is pretty and it is amazing."
LA Times
"Beautiful, funny, and harrowing"
The Atlantic
Smith's "perspective is a morality, 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...Smith wrote a book that should be read."
New York Times

"This is the book that Hillbilly Elegy should have been: a white-hot, fiercely argued case for rural working people in the face of their economically brutal lives."

Kirkus (Starred Review)

"Smith impresses in this fascinating debut memoir...Smith's prose shines when sharing how his experience on the oil rig shaped his idea of what it means to live a meaningful life. This page turner delivers."

Publisher's Weekly

WHAT OTHER WRITERS ARE SAYING:

The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand Viking Press Starred Kirkus Publishers Weekly Michael Patrick F. Smith Jack London George Orwell Sam Shepard Woody Guthrie Work Brotherhood and Transformation in an American Boomtown Penguin Random House The Good Hand The Good Hand The Good Hand

“This land, despite what Woody Guthrie sang, is not our land, and the violence involved with extracting its resources infects all our lives, starting with the lives of the men who show up to take it. In The Good Hand, Michael Patrick F. Smith guides us through a long muddy year in North Dakota’s oil boom, telling the story as if it were a Sam Shepherd play that can’t be stopped even though people are about to get badly hurt. It’s a surprisingly tender account of a man who is searching for salvation – from the sins of his family, from the drunken and drugged-up sins of a world broken by corporations – while trying desperately to find himself through work. He discovers that, like digging for oil, formed for years under great pressure, digging out the past is grueling, but worth the wait.”

Robert Sullivan, author of The Thoreau You Don't Know

"Thrillingly and wrenchingly funny, Candide in the oil fields of North Dakota. What Michael Patrick F. Smith found there, along with hustlers, brawlers, and fast-buck and fast-spend artists, was a gusher of a story about the national character. Like Educated and Hillbilly ElegyThe Good Hand is one of those brilliant close-ups that suddenly flips to become a wide shot of the American moment.  Smith has put together an engrossing combination of participation, reportage, self-discovery, and witness."

David LipskyNew York Times Bestselling Author of Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

“A sincere and colorful account of down-and-out men trying to make it and maybe grow up in the eternal dreary tailgate party and crushing dangerous toil of the fracking boom.  As one of Smith’s mentors tells him, ‘now you know why gas is so expensive.’”

William Vollmann, National Book Award winner, author of Europe Central

 

"A sprawling epic about life in the boom times — North Dakota, oil and cash coming down like rain. Think Samuel Clemens in San Francisco during the Rush or Jack London in the Klondike. The Good Hand is a wonderful feat of storytelling that illuminates a city, a moment, and the American character at large."

 

Rich Cohen, New York Times Best Selling Author of The Last Pirate Ship of New York

“A thrill-read -- There Will Be Blood made modern, and with added wit -- The Good Hand is that rare literary treasure: all things, all at once.  By mixing memoir with reportage and analysis --in telling his tale with rigor and joy -- Smith gives us a hoot that also feels necessary.”

Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle Award winning author of Half A Life

“A fine successor to Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, translated to the epic scope and sweep of the prairie West. While telling his bruisingly candid tales of toiling in a North Dakota oil field ("if this breaks me, then I’ll know what breaks me"), Smith paints a larger portrait of the American worker's heroically tragic struggle for a thin slice of the pie.”

John Strausbaugh, author of Victory City and City of Sedition

"Novelistic, gritty reportage, very large in heart, with memorable characters on almost every page, The Good Hand will remind readers of the best of Orwell and Ehrenreich.  A beautifully evoked, compelling memoir of hard work in a hard place."

Philip Dray, author of There Is Power In A Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America

"Like the men who populate it, The Good Hand is big and rowdy, busting its ass to uncover something ancient, buried, crude—and essential. By placing his body as a hard-worn cog in its machine, Smith gets to the heart of our addiction to oil and uncovers the demands it makes on the rough, desperate men who flock to boomtowns, looking to find and lose themselves all at once."

Baynard Woods, co-author of I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Corrupt Police Squad