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Success Stories

by Kirk Alex

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ISBN 0 939122 34 0
Tucumcari Press, 2004
161pp, paperback
Retail price $10.95

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher

As you can see from the publication date, Kirk Alex's third volume of musings has been waiting an inordinately long time for a review. That is primarily because we try to give priority to first-time reviewees, and also because it has so much in common with the first two volumes in what I understand is known as the "Tucson Trilogy".

Our hero, Chance the cab driver, has given up cab driving. At first it seems things have changed for him. He is no longer working the cabs, but unemployed -- surely an opportunity to encounter a slightly different slice of life about which to write. Somehow he resists the temptation to go back to the taxi-driving, at least for now. Yet, when he starts to describe some of the other temporary, menial jobs he finds himself doing, you wonder why.

This book is in a more novelistic style than either of its predecessors (Working the Hard Side of the Street and Blood, Sweat and Chump Change), but apart from that it repeats the same kind of material. We still see the world through the eyes of the narrator, although we may be looking at different locations. His personality has not changed greatly, and he is still constantly on the lookout for a life-changing experience, whilst not doing anything much to bring it about.

"How much more of this can I take? HOW MUCH MORE???!!!!"

(If you're wondering what caused this outburst, it was the prospect of working as a dishwasher, while pondering the seven hundred unsold copies of his first self-published book. I suppose we all feel like that sometimes, especially if we are unsuccessful self-published authors.)

Chance, as you might expect, is still short on cash, too. In fact, despite experiencing a variety of environments, working as an assistant at Wal-mart, a baker's delivery man, and indeed a cab driver, he does not seem to have made any kind of progress, either career-wise or as a person. He still blames the world for all his troubles, and, I suspect, still sees the publication of his work as an opportunity to get even, a kind of exposť of the society he feels is so much against him.

For there is not much doubt that this is a piece of autobiographical writing. If Chance really were a completely fictional character, Kirk Alex would have tired of him long before this point.  As, I fear, will most readers.  To give the author his due, he has persevered with the thankless task of writing and publishing his work in circumstances long after the point where a less committed writer would have given up, and has produced a book that looks more professional and more inviting than either of his previous efforts.  However, I had hoped, with this third book, to see some sign of a development in his literary style.  In this I was disappointed.  If I were him, I would forget Chance and concentrate on some of the other characters in the book.  Maybe they have a more worthwhile story to tell.