Smoko - Reviewed by Kerry Lee | Regional News Connecting Wellington


Written by: F.E. Beyer

Sandfly Press

Reviewed by: Kerry Lee

If you could describe just one novel as having a ‘fly-on-the-wall perspective’ Smoko by F.E. Beyer would have to be it.

Many years ago, I worked for Sky City first as a waiter, then as a bartender. The hours were long, the pay was bad, and the supervisors and managers were insufferable (from my perspective). But it was my first job, so what could I do but grin and bear it? Reading Smoko brought me back to those days when I was a fresh-faced kid who just needed a job.

The book follows a newly minted postal worker named Ed as he navigates the perilous world of mail couriers. From putting up with a power-mad supervisor to avoiding the perils of office politics, Ed encounters it all, and all I could do was nod my head and smile the whole way.

One of the reasons I loved Smoko so much is that Ed is someone we can all relate to. Essentially, he is us – all of us. We see ourselves in him and understand what he is going through. We have all had to suffer through that one boss who rules over us like a tyrant, or that one workmate who drones on and never stops. Beyer pulls no punches. There are no airs and graces here; he tells it like it is, and it is precisely that kind of writing that keeps the story grounded and relatable.

And while Beyer’s writing is great, for me, it is the characters who bring the book to life. From Mavis the aforementioned tyrant, to Ross the outspoken rebel, all the way to Johnno the company veteran, each character made an impression and I cared about all of them.

These elements all add up together to make Smoko a must-read title that I think everyone will relate to. A quick little read that took me back to my early working days, and a great start to 2024.

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