In this powerful collection of linked stories, debut author Brian Jabas Smith gazes into the lives of the stunted and the lost. There’s the teenaged bicycle-racing champion from the Arizona desert who’s escaping an abusive home life. The jaundiced rock ’n’ roll singer whose neon-lit gaze takes us from a Beverly Hills mansion to the crack-cocaine streets of old Hollywood. The desperate addict in the Phoenix barrio with nowhere to turn, strung out on crystal meth, porn, alcohol and nude dancers. Elsewhere, a Detroit journalist discovers that sobriety wasn’t part of his job description, and the internally crippled mother whose lovely daughters are doomed for life. These stories are disturbing and raw yet offer eerily beautiful portrayals of loss, ultimately, reclamation, and perhaps, redemption.
"Darkness holds a fearful beauty and an unexplainable allure. Brian Smith's Spent Saints captures that alluring darkness so well that it all feels familiar, well told, and grabs your soul."
—Patrick O'Neil, author of Gun, Needle, Spoon
"Brian Smith is a more forgiving Hubert Selby, there is no last exit, there are many roads left open, even if they remain mostly untraveled by the wounded inhabitants of this book."
"These experiences fuel Spent Saints, which turns an empathetic eye toward characters living on the margins."
"In these fine stories, Brian Smith’s direct, natural, story-telling voice rocks with the authority and grit of someone who’s been there and come back to tell the tale."
—Jim Daniels, author of Eight Mile High and Birthmarks
"Smith rocks and rolls with his tales of music, booze, drugs and bicycle racing. This book has it all ... "
—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, Once Upon a River, and American Salvage
"A gimlet-eyed chronicler of subterranean scenes, Brian Jabas Smith has spent a career finding both truth and beauty among those who've been consigned to the narrow margins of society. At last we're given a collection that captures the essence of his vintage neon prose. But Spent Saints is more than just glorious guttersnipe poetry -- it's a work of deep empathy and trenchant wit, a humanist drama that seeks to understand the lives of the artistic demimonde and the unglamorous working masses at once."
—Bob Mehr, author of Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements
"... Brian Jabas Smith's linked collection of stories is populated with the kinds of characters one meets after midnight in a strip club in Phoenix or outside a bar in Tucson. People who know a guy who knows a guy who can get you whatever you need. A bottle. A bag of go-fast. A plan to carry on and on and on. Smith's stories are full of haunted strippers, racist drug dealers, and a need so vast you could fill the Grand Canyon with it. Though not for everyone, Brian Jabas Smith just might be the William S. Burroughs of meth."
—Jim Ruland, author or Forest of Fortune, Big Lonesome and My Damage (with Keith Morris of Circle Jerks etc.).
"Spent Saints plays the minor chords of tragedy and the power ballads of redemption with skilled and steady hands. These heartsick, clear-eyed stories celebrate the will to love and live better at every turn."
—John Evans, author of Should I Still Wish, Young Widower, The Consolations, No Season and Zugzwang
"In Spent Saints, Brian Smith reaches down to the bottom rung and pulls up despair as it melts into unlikely beauty, brings the reader dangerously close to unfolding, ominous dread and unveils the side of life that is dark, wanting and formidable. Without reserve, he transfers the reader into worlds that are uneasy, without boundaries and desperately fragile. Like the note that remains long after it's been played, this collection will remain with the reader with it's honesty and exquisite starkness, at the same time both magnetic and haunting."
—Laurie Notaro, author of Crossing the Horizon and Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club
"Brian Smith writes of people nearly broken, on the edge of being pinned down by their demons, and manages to find their moments of redemption and grace. This is powerful, heartbreaking work.”
—Christopher Farnsworth, author of Blood Oath and The Eternal World
"We cannot imagine the pain that is headed our way. We can only guess at the precise contours of the hells we are about to inflict upon ourselves. Chained to our own rocks, ringed by electric fences we have built inside our minds, we can scarcely comprehend that all we have to do is walk away. Oh, yes. In these knife-edged, fiercely intelligent stories, Brian Smith tells us all about these truths, his characters delivering to us hard-won knowledge that is both terrifying and oddly exhilarating, like walking down the streets of a bad neighborhood at midnight. Read them, reflect on them, admire them—then drink a glass of orange juice and get yourself to the gym.—Gregory McNamee
—Gregory McNamee, author of Gila and Blue Mountains Far Away