The Road To Fort Worth is the saga of the author's 35 year journey to freedom as told by his alter-ego, Jack Wendell, a man compelled by fear to find a way to stop the panic attacks that crippled him. He discovered that alcohol could wash away the terror that he felt, but eventually he had two problems.
Jack Wendell's rite of passage into adulthood began three hours before midnight on the eve of his twenty-first birthday. On his stroll across campus, he watched one foot follow the other in a rhythmic pattern and thought about time. As he stepped from the past into the future, he was stunned by the realization that the present moment was so fleeting that it couldn't exist. His breathing became shallow and feelings of horror flushed through his body in spasms, like waves crashing on the shoreline, retreating, then returning in another blow. He was convinced that he had entered a portal into hell, and he endured the agony of the next three hours. When the clock struck midnight, he entered a bar, ordered a glass of whiskey, and the elixir washed away his panic with three magic bends of his elbow.
This was only the beginning of Wendell's long love affair with booze, his only relief from the anxiety attacks that haunted him in an era when little was known about the disorder. He couldn't function with the anxiety that possessed him and drank in an attempt to control his horrifying feelings, but couldn't work in a perpetual state of intoxication. On his journey, he encountered a host of unlikely companions and circumstances, including rehabs, institutions, therapists and a horde of dysfunctional people who would harbor him for a time, yet, sooner or later, he was forced onto the street again in search of another haven, where he could drink to his heart's content.
The Road To Fort Worth is a long overdue novel about a man suffering from panic disorder and alcoholism. It could be seen as a continuation of Charles R. Jackson's classic novel, The Lost Weekend. It's the story of a life on the rocks with a twist of lemon. It's the story of how one man learned to untie the inextricable knot binding two debilitating disorders that so many people have been unable to unravel.
Michael Smith's book The Road To Fort Worth is an inspirational trip down the author's own road to hell then freedom. As a sufferer of panic disorder myself, I know how hard it is to overcome this. Alcohol can certainly calm the nerves but, as Mr. Smith soon found out, it can lead to problems of its own. Not until he's battling alcoholism and panic disorder does he wake up and realize there has to be help out there for him. Though true help was a long time coming.
No matter where he was directed it just seemed to make matters worse or only helped for so long before he started the downward spiral again. Would nobody truly understand what he was going through and help him rather than masking his problems with prescription drugs, shoving him from one form of treatment to another, all with no positive result?
In the end this is a book about hope, about never giving up on yourself no matter how bleak the present and future may seem. It's a book that instills the comfort and reality that miracles do happen. Kelly Wallace
Josua Bigger, Author
In a universe of probabilities, somewhere, out there, it's possible for a Jack, our hero, to journey on the `Road to Fort Worth,' and make it there alive. In our world, faced by insane odds, deranged and terrified oneself, volunteering for every narcissistic indulgence and masochistic self-slaughter imaginable, it's highly unlikely to happen. Further, on our world, livers are not designed to survive such brutal, toxic torture.
Fortunately, for you and I, and most importantly, for himself, Michael Jackson Smith defied the odds and accidentally maintained breathing in and out.
There are some books that distract you for an evening and are then forgotten. `The Road to Fort Worth' does not belong in this class of books. This novel gets inside you because it's the real deal. This is our life, folks, not fluffy bunnies, rainbows, or Technicolor ponies. This is real life, where we suffer, long to be filled, we explore, rub ourselves raw, cater to our every and slightest whim, we love, hate, regret, we age and die, to be no more.
I'm thankful that Mr. Smith had the courage, the fortitude, the heart to write `The Road to Fort Worth.' This novel is embodied compassion, compassion for self, and compassion for the hurting world. `The Road to Fort Worth' is like Pandora's box, where, at the very end, we find a subtle, yet all-powerful, force: Hope.
`The Road to Fort Worth' is told beautifully, lyrically, with a unique voice and quotation punctuation. The novel is as individual as the brilliant man who wrote it, and you owe it to yourself to investigate. I urge you to dive right in, if you so choose. -Joshua Bigger, Author
"Mr. Smith's talent lies in how he describes events. The book grabbed my attention from the first sentence so effortlessly. As I read, it was as if I'd been part of the narrative all along. I find the best books I read are like that. They just pull you in without you realizing how." -Martha Garcia