Mid-American Review fiction staff selected “Some Kinds of Drifter” by Justin Thurman for publication in Volume XLII.
Thurman’s piece was selected for its overall strength but particularly for its nontraditional use of form and genre. The piece takes the form of an ethnography, detailing the different spiritual and cultural norms common amongst different groups of drifters. Drifters, in this piece, are homeless individuals distinguished from hoboes, who are mentioned but not examined, by the element of choice. “Hoboes are proud of their vagrancy…. Drifters do not suffer from wanderlust to the degree that hoboes might. Drifters have no choice.” The piece also makes use of a cartesian graph upon which individual drifters might be placed to complete the aesthetic of an academic report.
This notion of choice, and its absence, is an undercurrent throughout the piece that helps to ground it and bring a balance to the absurd sense of humor present throughout. Thurman’s narrator has a strong voice that reads almost as a mix of Ken Burns and Raoul Duke.
The further details of “Some Kinds of Drifter” are best experienced firsthand, but suffice it to say that the story is one that we on the MAR staff will still find ourselves talking about long after the selection process has ended.
-William Walton, Mid-American Review