The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas

Yesterday I read through Davy Rothbart’s The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas and had my heart broken, lit up and left dizzy. It was everything I had hoped for from the creator of Found Magazine; the stories collected in Davy’s first book resonate with those same emotive vibrations that Found conjured with its collected lost pieces of lives. Though this was fiction, the stories were so raw, real, strange and beautiful that they might as well be the stories of our neighbours.

There were many moments in the stories I was moved deeply by. The first time I had to stop and wonder for a second if he’d been seeing into my own life was in “A Black Dog,” during which I had to scramble to jot down “77” so that I could return to one passage that reminded me of my own experiences so eerily I couldn’t shake the feeling.

I hardly cared what we were talking about, I just enjoyed watching her face. At night, close in bed, she’d chatter like a giddy teenager, then turn soulful and wise as we shared tales of sad things we’d seen. She felt everything deeply. Like me, she never fell out of love with anyone. She kissed with great feeling.

And so it went through the rest of the book, culminating in “Elena,” a gritty, wrenching, ugly and at times tender story of a young man tied up in low organized crime across the US and Mexican border, with beatings, prostitution and theft in contrast and entangled with a sweet young girl and the children she cared for.
Don’t skip the precious few hours of these raw and beautiful stories. The reward for me was so great that I would rank it as the most densely pleasing and moving read I’ve had this year. If any book can reveal the inner turmoil and hope of America in 162 pages, this is it.

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