APRIL 2004

> TELL CHRISTIAN I'M SORRY (2003) |  david salvo

Mike Smith's premier fiction release Tell Christian I'm Sorry, published by Wasteland Press in Kentucky exemplifies what is great in the field of New Fiction writing. Smith morphs a contemporary confessional style and an effective fiction narrative style to create a familiar world where the unusual becomes the norm, and real-life smacks of the surreal. In Smith's work, we become intimately acquainted with the places and faces that constitute the author's sometimes humorous, sometimes painful but always entertaining journey. Smith's clear, conversational style and unique talents of observation merge to make his experiences as a young man accessible and real to a variety of audiences.

Consider the teachers you chortled about in High School, or your peculiar distant in-laws; Smith introduces these and others, connecting their frailties - and his own - to our universal human experience. Themes of confusion regarding self-identity and his place among his peers are dominant, inviting readers to discover their own place as Smith discovers his. Scenes brimming with tangible details fill our mind's eye, throwing us back to the first time we ever fought with another person, or our feelings when finally released from High School and turned loose on the unsuspecting world.

Smith's novel doesn't rest with high school antics; we meet his neighbors, his Aunt, his Grandparents - all of whom feature as touchstones throughout the work. We also follow this young man into the academic world where he works as a substitute teacher - an English teacher trapped teaching mathematics to disinterested students - and we experience with him the trials and triumphs of the educational field. Though he "downplayed it all the time around my friends and family ..." it's obvious that beginning a teaching career is a high point for Smith, and the conflicts and interactions that flow from that chance fill the tale with more humor, and an even clearer glimpse into the attitudes and hopeful dreams of this young writer.

Smith is a must read ... if only for the chance to remember that other people have lives remarkably like our own, and that life experience is not dictated by locality or socioeconomic concerns. Rather, Smith reminds us that life is just that, life, and that all of us share the same foibles and follies that make our lives so strange and remarkable. Order Tell Christian I'm Sorry

> BIOGRAPHY | about the author

David Salvo is a writing student at Indiana University Southeast. He published his first collection of poetry entitled Tumbling End to End in December 2003 through Wasteland Press.