Hostile City or Bust: By Phil Irwin (aka The Whiskey Rebel), 105 pgs. By Sean Carswell

Apr 15, 2011

This is the second book by Phil Irwin, and it deals with the move that he and his family made from Portland to Philadelphia. In one sense, it reads like a journal or something written for a personal zine. It’s very honest and personal, and it gives a raw insight into Irwin’s character. In another sense, this follows the longstanding literary tradition of the odyssey story. The characters have to undergo various tests and tribulations in their journey to return home. Unlike, say, Homer’s Odyssey or even Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, the obstacles the characters face aren’t great ones. They’re mostly things like dirty hotel rooms and slow vans. Still, Irwin manages to keep you reading and manages to make his day-to-day adventures somewhat interesting. After reading both Hostile City or Bust and Jobjumper by Irwin, I’ve come to realize that, much like the Philadelphia Phillies’ John Kruk wasn’t an athlete, he was a ballplayer, Irwin isn’t a writer, he’s a storyteller. This can be a good thing, and, throughout Hostile City or Bust, it usually is. – Sean Carswell (Steel Cage, PO Box 29247, Philadelphia, PA19125)