||Tiny TOE Press
||January 23, 2011
Bridget has a fierce desire for survival which makes her a fighter. Michael has a hankering after immortality which makes him a dreamer. And that is the great difference between these two Austin transplants who love each other so well.
Tiny TOE Press
Tiny TOE Press
Austin Nights is a winding tale of a road trip journey interwoven with a story of love and common experience. The story unfolds through gritty, tangible characters that personify the deeply important task a writer has to find the story in the everyday. Powered by a rich kind of nonlinear anti-narrative, Austin NIghts weaves and cajoles us into believing that reality can be fiction and fiction reality, but more importantly, to stop looking for the border that divides the two.
Today is April 1st, and I just finished recording a 4:01 video to celebrate the moment. Bridget is driving the white Silverado packed to the hilt with the stuff we couldn’t do without: our home.
We’re driving a long way. Miami Beach was death defying, but we have to leave now, leave the giant ocean with its therapeutic sands and salts for no less than five years.
Austin will be our new stomping ground. We’re driving there as I write. Bridget has both hands on the wheel. Sometimes there’s a large iced latte between her legs.
I find the mixture of caffeine and inner thighs more stimulating than just caffeine. Goosebumps from the iciness of her refreshment riddle her flesh. I reach over and grab the cup without asking for a sip. She doesn’t make a sarcastic remark.
“Thanks,” I say, lingering when I put the iced latte back between her legs.
She raises her eyebrows high above her Tri-Rail sunglasses and says, “Good, isn’t it?”
I slide her iPhone into the passenger door pocket and look at the familiar I-95 North scenery. Nothing has changed really, not in the four years I’ve lived in South Florida at least.
“What a beautiful day,” says Bridget, her window rolled down.
The highway and air sound loud outside. She has to shout everything to be heard. But if we roll the windows up and crank the AC, mpg in the Chevy plummets from 20 to a little less than fifteen, and we’re on a budget.
The Next Best Book Club
Austin Nights is the product of Tiny TOE Press, a DIY Publishing house run by Michael Davidson and his girlfriend. This is the first title released by the two person operation and each copy is handmade with love on their kitchen table.
The novel is a series of out-of-order journal entries that document the lives of Michael and Bridget (and their Honeyed Cat) during their relocation from Miami to Austin. Written in first person accounts, both Michael and Bridget share memories with the reader in what appears to be no particular order.
The chapters, or sections, are numbered but do not run sequentially. Initially I was going to try to read them in order, but quickly realized that I couldn't do that, since all of the chapter (or memory entries) were only one digit each, and those digits repeated endlessly throughout the novel.
It was until I neared the very end of the novel that the key to those oddly numbered chapters revealed itself, and even then, I didn't catch on right away. Ohhh, Michael.. you are a subtle little trickster!
Our narrators do a great job of creating this quiet, ever present sense of doom - for him, for her, or for both. Throughout the novel, you're anticipating something but you're not sure what exactly to anticipate. It's almost like "choose your own foreshadowing", which recurring concern will be the one to "get them"... Will the elven library leprechaun do harm to Bridget? Will Michael get stung by a bee? Will their crazy neighbor attack them? Will Michael fail to return from one of his runs?
Austin Nights is a relatively quick read. The chapters are quite short so you feel like you are making tremendous progress, which combats the frustration of the small font: More words on a page but less pages overall.
If the book had anything working against it, it would be the seemingly random story line. I found it hard to describe the book's plot, and ended up simply explaining what I had read up to that point. I am not sure that the author ever meant for the book to have a clear beginning, middle, or end - I believe the expectation was for it to appear as though it were pages ripped from a journal, shuffled through, and then stuffed back together. But the entire time I was reading it, I was wishing it was a bit more structured.
Michael Davidson did a wonderful job with the book as a physical object. To the average eye, it looks like any other paperback novel. I don't know that anyone would be able to determine that it was put together by hand in their home. It most definitely withstood the wear and tear and travel I put it through these last 3 days...Excellent job.
Xylo, The Wolf Baron
Austin Nights by Herocious is a thoroughly interesting novel. It ostensibly tells the tale of a couple, Michael and Bridget, their genuinely sweet romance, their move from Miami to Austin and subsequent period of adjustment. The book exists as a series of journal entries unstuck in time and place. Most of these seemingly unconnected passages come from Michael, but they are occasionally broken up by pieces from his girlfriend/lover/occasional handler Bridget which afford a healthy amount of perspective. Despite all seeming attempts to the contrary, Austin Nights develops a healthy narrative thread. It never comes close to overstaying its welcome and leaves the reader wanting more.
Mostly, the book is about Michael.
That is not to its detriment. He is truly an engrossing subject. Michael is a series of contradictions. He’s a gentle soul who is not above kicking a sick cat. He observes the minutiae of life through the eyes of a poet, but is often oblivious to what is happening around him. He is fiercely loyal to his own sense of self, to the point of repression, but will try on opinions haphazardly as though he were Nietzsche’s fisherman. This is a man who thinks of Larry McMurtry as a messiah, despite never reading Lonesome Dove.
Michael is a man of big dreams but a criminal lack of ambition, the last journeyman beatnik, or perhaps just from Mars. I can‘t help but feel that his view of the human race comes from an outsider‘s perspective, yet his existential crisis is far from alien. He is a man who is trying to reconcile his attempts at growth with his fear of losing his identity in the process.
Austin Nights is the tale of a man who uses the word “lover” unironically, and makes the world a better place in doing so.
Or at the very least, a more interesting one.
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