In Salvage This World, Michael Farris Smith bolsters his reputation as an intoxicating literary stylist. For Southern writers (Smith is from Mississippi), a comparison to Cormac McCarthy can be both an honor and an act of oppression, but McCarthy is an unavoidable point of reference for the bleak elegance of Smith’s prose ... The solemn, rhythmic tone is well employed in service of the sodden, gray setting ... While Smith’s enthralling narrative talents are plentifully on display in this book, I did find the dialogue a slight letdown. My expectation to receive deeper access to the idiosyncratic personalities of the characters often went unfulfilled, the exchanges too brief or too focused on already-known information. I kept hoping the dialogue would supply avenues for the characters to distinguish themselves from the overarching prickly, reticent demeanor that seems to spring right from the dismal setting and infect everyone in the novel, but it was rarely equal to that task ... All in all, Salvage This World is a bruising, bracing read by a hell of a writer. If you consider life too short for uninspired sentences or nondescript locales, this book is for you.
The author’s gift for oblique dialogue is scene stealing. The characters speak cryptically in regional dialect telling of their baggage and downtrodden station, and the bleak settings are commensurate with the tenor of the story ... A masterly drawn, tightly controlled story about the lengths one will go to safeguard their own.
Smith’s tense, brooding narratives also reveal a terrible beauty in his characters’ struggles to flee or defeat the cruelty and violence they face, to find moments in which hope and love are more than memories ... An exceptional storyteller in top form.
Evocative ... Smith perfectly depicts a landscape of dwindling resources and limited prospects, where crime turns out to be the most expedient solution. There’s plenty of human drama in this gritty literary thriller.