The Good Hand
A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown
Michael P. F. Smith 2021
Today I talked to Michael P. F. Smith about his book The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown (Viking, 2021)
Michael Smith is a folk singer who has shared the stage with luminaries such as Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. He’s also a playwright, whose works include Wood Guthrie Dreams and Ain’t No Sin. The Good Hand is his first book.
This episode looks at what life is like in the oil fields of North Dakota. It covers a wide range of topics from how much oil (black gold) has influenced our standard and style of living to just how miserable the wages are for workers handling the rigs. Lonely, often violent men blanket Williston, North Dakota, many of them the earlier victims of abusive fathers. The episode touches on notable characters like Huck and the Wildebeest, and most of all Magic Mike (the author and narrator). It’s safe to say that the open spaces of North Dakota are another feature the episode addresses.