Tucson Salvage Tales and Recollections from La Frontera
A collection of essays and columns (Eyewear Publishing UK). Released autumn/winter 2018
[Tucson Salvage is] holy work, no doubt about it, but done by a fallen altar boy who truly knows what it's like to feel completely alone and abandoned, all bridges burned, no direction home. "
—Dan Stuart, singer-songwriter, and author of The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings: A False Memoir, and The Unfortunate Demise of Marlow Billings.
“A true champion of the dispossessed and forgotten. ... I can’t recommend this book highly enough.” —Willy Vlautin, author of Lean on Pete and Don’t Skip Out on Me
"In Tucson Salvage, Brian Jabas Smith deftly delivers us a nuanced collection of field reports from the modern human condition; keenly observed, humanely considered, and unquestionably lived."
—Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, West of Here, and Lawn Boy
"These aren't stories of the movers and shakers of our world, these are stories about the rest of us, the lucky ones trying to hold it together under the daily grind and the not so lucky who have been crushed by all the moving and shaking. Brian Jabas Smith lovingly describes these people, their remarkable spirit and resilience and the city and desert they call home. Thank God or whatever deity may be out there that we have gifted writers like Brian Jabas Smith who have chosen to undertake the noble endeavor of telling these stories, and to remind us that these human beings who exist in the shadows are as much us as those who live in the limelight.
—Tom Hansen, author of American Junkie and This is What We Do
"A humble troubadour of Tucson’s desert-fried streets and dives, Brian Jabas Smith listens to barmaids and junkies, to the homeless and the undocumented, and retells their heartbreak tales in incandescent prose. This compassionate book about the struggles of the dispossessed is an important corrective to the myth of the Southwest as a golden promised land.
—Margaret Regan, author of Detained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire
"In this collection of essays Brian Smith empathetically captures the plight of the disenfranchised, the forgotten, and the misunderstood (often people of color) that comprise the backbone of the cultural landscape of urban Arizona. Read this book and try not to weep - ideally you will."
—Pat Thomas, author of Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1965-75, and Did It! Jerry Rubin: An American Revolutionary
"These are haunting, human stories written with an expert’s eye for salvation. In his profiles of the overlooked, the forgotten, and the dismissed, in his ability to stop while others move on, Brian Smith has captured the spirit of Joseph Mitchell and set it to roam out here in the desert. If you think you know Tucson, stop and read this."
—Thomas Mira y Lopez, author of The Book of Resting Places
"Brian Smith sees stories in the faces of people the rest of us don't notice, and he tells them in a way that's impossible to ignore. The writing is terrific, but it's the grace, the empathy, his reverence for humanity, that makes this work so beautiful and important that it takes my breath away. Smith puts Tucson on the map in all the right ways."
—Amy Silverman, author of My Heart Can't Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome.
"I can’t think of an American writer who captures place with as much empathy, precision, and grace as Brian Jabas Smith. Tucson Salvage: Tales and Recollections of La Frontera is as gritty as it is kind, and Smith’s prose sparkles with insight and heartbreaking description. In these pages we encounter a gifted writer at the height of his powers. An enviably brilliant book.
—Cal Freeman, author of Fight Songs
"Whenever I want to hear about the truth about what's really going on in the world of the American Southwest and the particulars of that regional story, I turn to the writing of Brian Jabas Smith. Smith doesn't flinch or turn away from telling the truth exactly as it is, straight on, no chaser. His tales of lives lived hard but true take us inside the everyday struggles of what it means to be alive. The American Southwest may be a desert in the eyes of most, but Smith shows us otherwise: that this a region infested with sharks, and these are true stories of people—artists, magicians, fighters, hustlers, bus-stop mystics—swimming to save their lives. Pick up this book if you don't mind your whiskey from the well and your jabaneros dipped in the Rimbaudian fires of hell."
—Peter Markus, author of The, Fish and Not the Fish, We Make Mud, and Bob, Man or Boat
"They say everyone you meet has a secret that would break your heart. In Tucson Salvage, Brian Smith meets with the discarded men and women among us and with an openhearted curiosity searches for the humanity in these secrets and finds it. Every. Single. Time."
—Danny Bland, author of In Case We Die, and I Apologize in Advance for the Awful Things I'm Gonna Do
" ... Elegant and honest portraits of migrants, bartenders, barbers, parents, homeless people, and others hidden from the public eye."
"Brian Jabas Smith's street-poet writings are quilted with a lean patchwork sewn up with extensive thread. It's poised work that allows the reader to walk away knowing someone they've never met. He is remarkable in such infiltration with the rare breadth of delivering poetics in prose, as opposed to to cons. It feels like it's a matter of time until he scours the entire cityscape revealing all that lurks in shadow land, himself a beacon. "
—Howe Gelb, singer-songwriter, Giant Sand