By Tim Coursey
In this brilliant fiction debut from a legendary visual artist, thirteen interconnected stories explore friendship and intimacy, loneliness and dislocation, and the physical contours of a dilapidated American landscape.
Publication Date: June 14, 2022
These stories, which first appeared as part of Coursey’s solo exhibition at The Pollock Gallery of SMU's Meadows School of the Arts, demonstrate the artist’s fascination with the broken-down and discarded relics of industry and labor. Coursey’s stories are laced with humor, conspiracy, paranoia, and compassion, exploring the ripple effects of violence, the mystery of a car found in a well, house-boat culture, Texas landscapes of machinery and dust. Objects possess a totemic importance as Coursey catalogs the detritus of American culture.
These ornate vignettes present a colorful cast of characters and vivid scenery, demonstrating the author’s eye for detail both inanimate and human. Coursey spotlights work and deeds done by hand, and the artful, sculpted sentences reveal the writer’s care and facility as a linguistic craftsman.
Tim Coursey has lived in Dallas, Texas, since 1948. He studied art under Roger Winter at Dallas College and later at SMU Meadows School of the Arts, where his teachers included Otis Dozier, Jerry Bywaters, Mary Vernon, Larry Scholder and James Surls. Coursey’s practice is influenced by his connection with fellow writers, machinists, teachers and past day jobs. These have included janitor, bus driver, professional jeweler, foundry hand pourer of enormous one- piece bronzes, antique Japanese sword fitting replicator, and producer of tiny furniture. Driving Lessons is his first work of fiction.
“There's a forensic sort of elegance, precision, to these narratives, descriptive of an inelegant and mystifying and generally threatening world, that holds your attention as to a crime scene. So meticulous an obscurity that you cannot look away—exactly because you can't quite see, or can't yet see, some ominous thing. Some larger issue out there looming… No one writes like this. There's no one I know captures the emotional precision of such accidental passages in accidental lives—all at the edge of some precisely indeterminate destruction.” —David Searcy
"This enigma, this mystery, this public menace of a novel that goes by the name of Driving Lessons is, in a word, brilliant. Out of the uncertainties of now and future and the long tail of the anything-went 1960s, Tim Coursey—I swear he's witnessed it all, past, present, future—has conjured a novel that captures the peculiarly grayscale darkness of the times, circa 1966-????, and along the way gives us more that's authentic and genuine about human experience than you'll find in the sum wisdom of several hundred recent novels. Driving Lessons rings true, every line of it, every sigh and glance. And it might be the apocalypse, that too." —Ben Fountain