by Jerome Spencer
“When the institutions climb inside the meager house that is your humble body, and claim your body as your property, all you have to do is show no pain, and puke them back up, send them flying.”
When writing a review, I like to select a powerful line or two from the book and lead in with that quote. That proved a daunting task with Double Bird, because so many sentences absolutely blew me away. An anomalous and intimate collection of short stories, Double Bird is a solid emotional rollercoaster masquerading as intangible entertainment.
Quite a few of Bud Smith’s stories may be easy to quantify as absurd, but none are ever incongruous or inane for the mere sake of absurdity. Even the most bizarre stories in the book – like Gling Gling Gling, a tale of running-over a pedestrian and running errands with him as he dies in the passenger seat – is heavy with purpose and allegory. While Double Bird will elicit laughs and has more than a few wild turns, it’s also full of thoughtful prose and powerful purpose.
For all of its sense of wonderment and buoyancy, Double Bird excels at emotive substance. Bud Smith effortlessly pens passages that just creep into your psyche and are absolutely ruinous. When Smith writes, “There’s always someone somewhere screaming, just on the edge of earshot. You can choose to listen or you can ignore it” in the captivating story Pentagram, the insight is blatantly clear and enduring.
Stories like The Paralyzer and The Moon did more than break my heart, I felt like I misplaced a little piece of myself after reading them and I’m still unsure of where it’s hidden. That’s the true merit of Double Bird, though; it’s so full of subtle, almost reluctant splendor that lingers and disguises itself as something, anything and everything else until it burrows into our very souls or whatever we keep deep in our chest cavities, respectively. It feels a lot like being in the wrong place and the right time. Or is it vice versa?