Man Against the Horses! Four Theater of the Absurd Novelettes by Michael D. Smith Four Theater of the Absurd Novelettes by Michael D. Smith
Published February 2024

Barnes and Noble (BN ID 2940167686625)
Smashwords (ISBN 9798224162178)
and other online retailers

mass market paperback (216 pages)
(ISBN 9781304592996) (ISBN 9781304592996)

Background  |  Excerpt (First section of of “Space, Time, and Tania” in PDF format)

cover art by Michael D. Smith

Four absurdist novelettes explore revolution, espionage, social strife, cars, motorcycles, and horses.

Space, Time, and Tania

Bumbling ex-Texas Department of Public Death officer Marty Brimfeeler probes the death of Tania in Houston shortly before World War III erupts. This is a fun, intelligent, loopy story, despite being inspired by the kidnapping of Patty Hearst and her brainwashing by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. The story strikes me now, as close to an impartial view after all these decades as I’m about to get, as properly channeling the universe. There doesn’t seem to be a career-minded ego trip to it. Of course it’s not really about Patty Hearst.

Man Against the Horses

Five horses in Paris, Texas have finally had enough. They break out of their corral, charge down the highway, and, imbued with fresh superpowers, tear the city of Dallas to pieces. This rough draft manages to express my antipathy toward my new city of Dallas and my post-college job’s bleak regimentation, which felt like a return to high school compared to my insular, satisfied university life in Houston. I deleted several cute, screwy phrases that wouldn’t have survived a second draft, and aligned the tone of the final section with the story’s overall mood.

The Highland Park Cadillac Races

This piece continues my vengeful satire of my new city as it showcases how hapless insurance executive Bobby Thompson, plagued by numerous metaphysical questions, races Cadillac against Cadillac to prove his manhood on the mean streets of Dallas. I removed a disgusting and utterly unnecessary first scene which probably accounted for the continual rejections of this story; otherwise I just made light edits, broke sprawling paragraphs into easier-to-read ones, and took out a handful of distracting embellishments. Note that whenever I needed to impress the reader with Cadillac engine technology, I just made something up.

The 66,000 M.P.H. Bicycle

Special agent Atoka evades “the Americans” on his nuclear-powered, 66,000-m.p.h. bicycle until he’s bombed into chewed-up guts on a Texas coastal freeway. The 1975 author was able to ignore physics such as escape velocity, inertia, friction, and sonic booms, but came up with some interesting computer concepts for a 1975 story written by someone who knew nothing about computers. But what works here is the ludicrousness of Atoka’s mission, which is never explained. This final 1975 story only needed very light edits.