1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
The Good Hand  By  cover art

The Good Hand

By: Michael Patrick F. Smith
Narrated by: Michael Patrick F. Smith
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $21.37

Buy for $21.37

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

"Remarkable...this is the book that Hillbilly Elegy should have been." (Kirkus Reviews)

A vivid window into the world of working-class men set during the Bakken fracking boom in North Dakota.

Like thousands of restless men left unmoored in the wake of the 2008 economic crash, Michael Patrick Smith arrived in the fracking boomtown of Williston, North Dakota, five years later homeless, unemployed, and desperate for a job. Renting a mattress on a dirty flophouse floor, he slept boot to beard with migrant men who came from all across America and as far away as Jamaica, Africa, and the Philippines. They ate together, drank together, argued like crows, and searched for jobs they couldn't get back home. Smith's goal was to find the hardest work he could do - to find out if he could do it. He hired on in the oil patch where he toiled 14-hour shifts from summer's 100-degree dog days to deep into winter's bracing whiteouts, all the while wrestling with the demons of a turbulent past, his broken relationships with women, and the haunted memories of a family riven by violence.

The Good Hand is a saga of fear, danger, exhaustion, suffering, loneliness, and grit that explores the struggles of America's marginalized boomtown workers - the rough-hewn, castoff, seemingly disposable men who do an indispensable job that few would exalt: oil field hands who, in the age of climate change, put the gas in our tanks and the food in our homes. Smith, who had pursued theater and played guitar in New York, observes this world with a critical eye; yet he comes to love his coworkers, forming close bonds with Huck, a goofy giant of a young man whose lead foot and quick fists get him into trouble with the law, and The Wildebeest, a foul-mouthed, dip-spitting truck driver who torments him but also trains him up and helps Smith "make a hand".

The Good Hand is ultimately a book about transformation - a classic American story of one man's attempt to burn himself clean through hard work, to reconcile himself to himself, to find community, and to become whole.

This audiobook edition includes an original score and seven songs performed by The Good Hand. 

©2021 Michael Patrick F. Smith (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Smith brings an alchemic talent to describing physical labor.... With a playwright’s talent for dialogue, storytelling in miniature and staying out of the way, he writes dozens of scenes of men moving, joking and endlessly talking...his writing keeps people alive in their histories, talents, humor and mistakes...[bringing] perspective, on how people, including Smith, can sometimes rise above their worst selves through unglamorous, demanding, difficult work...a book that should be read.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“[A] sprawling, heart-smeared-on-the-page howl of rage and pain. The Good Hand is a rambling honky-tonk of a book, with the soul of a songwriter and the ache of a poor White boy who grew up rough. It is big and it is pretty and it is amazing.” (Los Angeles Times

The Good Hand ’s scenes in ‘the patch’ are beautiful, funny, and harrowing, constructed with metal hooks, workplace lingo, poetic profanity, and the author’s palpable fear.... As someone whose immediate family bears the scars of physical labor in another Great Plains state, and who rarely sees her native class convincingly portrayed, I relished these anecdotes and the validation they provide.” (Sarah Smarsh, The Atlantic)

More from the same

Narrator

What listeners say about The Good Hand

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    108
  • 4 Stars
    39
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    113
  • 4 Stars
    24
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    97
  • 4 Stars
    34
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Best Memoir in a Decade!

Easily one of my favorite memoirs of the last decade. By turns funny, sweet, terrifying, and head-scratchingly weird, it is ALWAYS interesting. I listened to this one on Audible and the author (who I am now a little in love with, but just a little) read it himself. He peppers the reading with the sweet sounds of his guitar and even sings the listener a song or two. I think I would have loved it if I had read it too, but hearing him, was a gift. Magic Mike and his band of merry buddies will take you with him on an adventure that you really don't want to miss. Amazing storytelling and some really good food for thought too. I laughed a lot and a cried a little too. Totally great.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A terrific memoir read by its captivating author

I’ve been looking forward to this book for a couple months, and my excitement ramped up when I saw the beautiful spread, feature, and review in The New York Times in early 2021.

Michael Patrick F Smith is a Maryland treasure who takes intricate and fascinating notes of his travels, work, and the gritty world around him. And we get to see what he sees in an immersive and evocative language. His original music brought me to his writing, and the familiar twang of his guitar here and there throughout the audiobook remind me of sitting in a dark bar, hearing his weirdly cheerful guttural Americana and gnarly voice for the very first time.

Such a terrific read/listen whether or not you know one thing about the oil industry coming in.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I couldn’t stop listening, but I need sleep!

I’ve been trying to watch my own cursing so the first few minutes of the book took me back a little but I was drawn in and kept listening.

I had considered for one very brief moment of moving to North Dakota myself before I landed in Minnesota back in 2015. After listening to The Good Hand, I not only feel like I’ve lived in North Dakota during this time, I am also thankful I did not.

Thank you sharing your story.

Patti

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Great Listen, Excellent Storytelling

This is an excellent book, weaving together the author’s own story, the oil industry, history, climate change and a wide cast of characters both funny and tragic. Some chapters are reminiscent of a great Flannery O’Conner story. It is a special treat to listen to it read by the author. This would make a great TV series it is written so vividly.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

way to go magic!

thanks for your honesty
can't wait to see what you do next!
this is a story that needs to be shared

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

“Yeah buddy”

Living in Montana, I got to hear the real stories from “Magic Mike” about the Boom. I remembered all of his co/workers through out the book. He did such a great job of describing and imitated them. The narration was excellent. I hope he gets to narrate other books plus write! Yeah buddy! Very tough up bringing.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • JJ
  • 08-20-21

9 months?

I read this entire book. This book reads like a embedded reporter giving his opinionated piece with stereotypes, anti American propaganda, and trashing of every coworker around him. The author only worked 9 months in the patch, yet tries to portray himself as an expert. All his political beliefs that he chose to drop in were just annoying. I’m usually open to a variety of opinions but this book just felt like it was trying to force those opinions on every reader.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

not great

too much woke theology and virtue signaling. writers behavior he admits too is reprehensible. How many women has he used and thrown on the trash heap yet to him s racist slur is worse. Don't waste your time.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Memoir!

I have been working in the oil industry up in North Alaska for over twenty five years now and while listening to this book I felt that Michael was a coworker just having a conversation with me over a beer. He has captured all the dynamics of this type of lifestyle revealing all the emotions and feelings that go along with it such as humor, sorrow, fatigue, self doubt, self confidence, machoism and empathy. This is an excellent memoir I thoroughly enjoyed and could not get enough of!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I was sorry when it ended

I caught just part of an interview of the author on the radio show Marketplace and picked the book up on a whim. I was hooked immediately. Incredible storytelling by a guy with a lot to say. Ive recommended this book far and wide and am giving it as a gift to multiple recipients

2 people found this helpful