So Fast, So Close by William R. Soldan is a modern-day poetic eulogy to the forgotten white male voices of middle America that have been left to forge a path of greatness without preparation and devoid of the mythical racial privilege. With this poetic outing, Soldan has created a future award winning Kerouac-esque portrait of a world where classism has left our protagonist searching for the meaning of life and his importance in it, since the life he saves will be his own.
Roads and Cities starts our journey with the protagonist, who is actively traveling across America and Canada. It’s a sobering perspective of life lived at truck stops, dive bars, and shithole diners that span second and third tier cities and the mundane middle of the road no name towns that litter between them. The genius of this section is the ambiguity of our protagonist; we don’t know anything about him except tidbits of what he slips and tells us in reflection. We can’t tell if he works exclusively, drifts mostly, is running from his past, running from his future or both. What we do know is he is just as in the moment as we are, soaking up the sights and smells as a stranger in his own land. Trying to find purpose in new surroundings, our protagonist, like the readers, are conscientious objectors trying to stay out of the way of the locals, hoping we get to the next destination without being a casualty of the present.
So Fast, So Close takes us off the road and into the throes of interpersonal relationships of close family and friends. More often than not these fragile moments are wrought with compromised expectations as our protagonist reflects on the struggles of his childhood while figuring out who he is as a man, son, and father. He’s damaged, having lived a hard knock life in middle America that media implies on a regular basis only inner-city Black Americans are destined to wallow in. He’s vulnerable, understanding that he is part of a generational curse that has a good success rate. This section is an uncomfortable look at the dysfunctionality of the white American family dynamic that is not riddled with white trash stereotypes. The striking blow is that our protagonist is smart enough to know the people of his own race won’t even believe him should he talk about some of his experiences within it.
Fathers and Sons gives us a sobering conclusion as we follow our protagonist hashing out memories and comparisons between the dynamic of his father and him. It’s at this point where this poetic musing becomes very real and we’re forced to deal with our own memories of our interpersonal experiences with our dads. It’s uncomfortable at times, it’s hard to swallow reveling in our own flashbacks, and we’re just as vulnerable as our character by the time we get to the end. All of us know these raw, uncensored feelings and the questions that go along with them that rarely get answers.
Whimsical, melancholy, and frightening at times, So Fast, So Close allows us to breeze through our protagonist’s burden as he figures out life on his own terms and his questionable future making something of himself. Our protagonist wants more as we all do but circumstance and bad governance hasn’t given him many options. We feel his pain and relive it ourselves with our own memories when it comes to family; we know all too well that romance without finance leads to dysfunctionality down the line. Life’s definitely dealt him a bum deck of cards as he is in a constant rotation staying one foot up from poverty yet condemned to stay put within its reach. But we know him as we know ourselves as his struggle is the new normal of our struggle.
This poetic collection should be on everyone’s must have list, and dare I say a Pulitzer Prize nominee in literature. We should revere Soldan’s powerful testament on the realities of white American men being born after Vietnam and the country this government’s bad policies have left them to slumber in. These are not the white men of old donning bed sheets and slaves on the plantation. These are boys that become men who are punished as casualties in a never ending Manifest Destiny policy this country has indoctrinated on its people since Reconstruction solely for the unfortunate luck of being born white without money. Regardless of race, we’re rooting for our protagonist because he’s our hero, testifying to our generational congregation that America is eating its white young in a way never seen before. And we’re okay with that because if we put aside our personal prejudices and political talking points we know they and their future generations have been left as collateral damage or spoils of war in a politically correct America with no recuse.
Now do yourself a favor, read the book, and let William R. Soldan take you away like Calgon to the real world most Americans are stuck in today.
So Fast, So Close is currently available on Amazon, released by Close To The Bone Publishing.