Tom Spnabauer is one of the few living authors whose books I personally consider to be modern day classics. He’s somewhere in that zone between prose and poetry, and he broke that myth about less always being more.

In the City of Shy Hunters tells the story of Will Parker from Idaho who escapes to New York in search for the love of his life, and the story goes back and forth as the secrets of his childhood unfold, and he encounters people who are, much like himself, different, vulnerable, but not afraid to admit it.

Although the language is simple and the flow is steady, the book wraps the reader with barbed wire. It’s personal, visceral, and it goes to those places most writers refuse —or are too scared— to go to. Spanbauer’s art of Dangerous Writing, as he explains in this video, is summed up in the word Unpacking. He’s not a mirror reflecting the characters and events in the book, what he paints is not a picture but a feeling. Through the minor details and perfectly timed repetition, he tunes the mind of the reader to that of his characters. As painful as it is, it’s oddly comforting.

Every page, every paragraph of this book is a lesson on how to write, and I believe that all writers should read a Spanbauer book at least once in their lives. There are books that break the rules, and there are books that break your heart. This one is guaranteed to do both.



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