Originally posted on Goodreads.com.
Subtle Man Loses His Day Job is a book of short stories written by author of Apocalypse TV, Thomas Allbaugh. Comprised of both standalone vignettes and other stories loosely connected through the Michigan setting of Side Step Tavern, the book incorporates themes of grief at past loss, the inner life of characters who worry they’ve missed their chance, and the tension between past faith and current lack (or processing) thereof.
Set at the midpoint between steeple-laden neighborhoods and the slums, Side Step becomes the meeting place for those halfway through whatever it is life has dealt them—and it often provides the setting for the ridiculous burlesques into which they find their way. In their hijinx, reflections, and discoveries, Subtle Man’s characters find hidden and often humorous realizations that bring light and hope to their worries and humblings, all of which make them both absurd and uniquely relatable.
Ultimately a set of comedies, Subtle Man does not shy away from the tragedies that form its characters’ backdrops; approaching such things with introspection without pretension, the characters find their way out of their troubles—or at least to a place where they might possibly see the way out.
Full disclosure: I personally know and have worked with the author. Nonetheless (or perhaps therefore), I was able to find much in Subtle Man that is worth reading and rereading, and the book makes me look forward to more from Thomas Allbaugh.