by Sarah Smarsh published in The Atlantic
Read original on The Atlantic's website
Smarsh reviews two new books, "The Good Hand: A Me...Show description
Posted 585 days ago
Smarsh's reviewof The Good Hand (Viking) by Michael Patrick F. Smith makes me really want to pick up a copy. She writes:
As someone whose immediate family bears the scars of physical labor in another Great Plains state, and who rarely sees her native class convincingly portrayed, I relished these anecdotes and the validation they provide.
What makes people go out to work on these massive, dangerous projects? Although some can certainly become wealthy, there are many who don't and who "risk their lives on a windswept plain where the temperature might be 38 degrees below zero and the pay might be $20 an hour." She cites a study mentioned in the book from the Center for Public Integrity which puts "roughly, a death every other day" from injuries sustained on the job of oil-and-gas workers.
Smarsh focuses on a part that Smith seems to look-over in his book: sex working and abuse. She says that Smith only really ever mentioned "fear of man-on-man rape," but Smarsh says that these areas are some of the hotspots for prostitution and trafficing. Even though Smith doesn't look deeply at what he sees, she really appreciates his honesty and "wishes for similar testimonies from other socioeconomic strata" (which is a centrist, roundabout way of saying class without actually having to say it).
Getting this first-hand accounts also makes us reflect on the broader argument against continued fracking:
Yet the judgmental “fractivism” of outsiders—Yoko Ono is among the many who have traveled from New York City to advocate for fracking bans in rural Pennsylvania—provoked understandable resentment. Natural gas, Jerolmack notes, powers more New York homes than any other energy source, and much of it comes from places like Billtown.
But not only is it that it's essential to modern life, it's also a means of being energy independent from other nations that have large oil deposits. Even though fracking has terrifying environmental and social side-effects, being able to generate energy from oil gotten within our soils might mean less international oil wars that we have waged in the past. It just seems like much to difficult a problem to pick a side on without thinking deeply about it.