Southern Scribe
   our culture of storytelling


Fiction Review 

          Spikes: A Novel
          By Michael Griffith
          Arcade Publishing, New York, 2001.
          ISBN: 1-55970-536-1



There are books based on character development.  There are books based on plot development.  Then, there books that, well…there are books like Spikes, by Michael Griffith, Associate Editor of The Southern Review at Louisiana State University. 

Ostensibly a book about golfing, this work delves into thought processing, narratives about the goalsetting mania we all experience in life.  Include in that: tirades on personal loss, putting up with other people (even ones we hate), as well as obsessive grasping for things we cannot have and the fickleness of success. 

The main character, Brian Schwan, is a failure at only twenty-six.  If you don’t make it by then, Brian thinks, you are dead.  He has just finished the worst golf game of his life, even as the golfer he is partnered with has completed his best. 

A beautiful reporter who has mistaken him for his partner tries to interview him.  Brian cannot bring himself to tell her the truth about who he is, and the story is off and running.  He tries to go after the reporter and ruin his marriage as well as his golf game.  

What follows is funny and unpredictable in the extreme.  Frankly, I gave up trying to out-guess the author as to what would happen next.  And that is precisely the point;  I didn’t have to.  For the journey itself was as enjoyable and important to me as the final outcome of the book.  

The outrageous descriptions of his characters, the funny, offbeat reasoning of the southern folk-persons: be they red-necked, upper-crust, big-butted blowhards, or squeamish worrywarts.  Iit was all a wonderful trip for me.  Rollercoastering along at breakneck speed, I was sucked in by narrative-both compulsive and entertaining.  It was like looking through a rotating prism and seeing all the lights, varying in intensity and hue, spectrums cast by descriptions alive with fury, lightness, humor and craziness.  

It took effort, I will allow, to take in all of Mr. Griffith’s wordiness sometimes.  But, by slamming my mental gears into reverse, I could back up in order to re-read for the second time a refreshing and different aspect of something that I might find only bland in real life.  But then, what is writing if not an act of interpretation and perspective?  I felt as if the author were being true to himself and I was only a passenger and not a reader, privileged enough to be asked along for the ride. 

For example, there is a scene about halfway through the book, where the female reporter “dresses down” Brian.  I mean!  Men been turned down by women before, but if they had been verbally lashed like she shot down Bryan, most of us men would be in jail for murder! 

A study in extremes.  A lesson in opposites.  I say, “Get it!  Get it now!  Get it before your bookstore runs out of copies!  I got mine.  You get your own!” 

Robert L. Hall
Southern Scribe Reviews


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