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hostile city or bust cover
Phil Irwin (aka The Whiskey Rebel) is an author, a columnist, a musician, a former chess prodigy and has worked a myriad of jobs more wide ranging than most people will encounter in a lifetime. In his second book, Hostile City or Bust, Irwin once again focuses the spotlight on himself, detailing his family's move from Portland, Oregon to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and taking the reader through every step as they uproot their lives and make the arduous (and occasionally hysterical) cross-country journey.

108 pgs * 5 3/8 X 8 3/8

Ordering: $14 ppd US / $18 ppd elsewhere


Reviews: Moving is generally hellish and a huge pain in the ass. Hell, just moving across town can make most folks swear it off for years. Times that hassle by a thousand, and you have the long distance move. This is the sometimes nightmarish and often hilarious tale that Phil Irwin tells in this great book. "Hostile City Or Bust" is the real life story of a cross country move from Portland, OR to Philadelphia, PA ("Hostile City, USA"), told with wit and humor. Oftentimes realizing that he is the heel in the story, Irwin has done a great job covering the trials and tribulations of moving cross country in this excellent follow up to his great first book, "Jobjumper" (also on Steel Cage Books). From the last minute insanity trying to finally get out of town to the horror of having your slow moving vehicle nearly blown off the road by passing 18 wheelers, this book just nails it. My favorite part and the part I most relate to is Irwin's stories of how his family's "friends" in Portland react when they realize they are really moving away. Just like crabs in a bucket, I tell ya. With a cynical outlook and a real love of Mid-Western Americana, Phil Irwin (Thee Whiskey Rebel) and Steel Cage Books have unleashed another fine book.
—Mike Frame, Tablet Newspaper

It’s a minor American nightmare, moving. Try to pack the family and a lifetime of crap into a trailer and head out cross-country, and you’re asking for a stressor the size of divorce or major surgery. And on a cautionary yet ultimately triumphant note, Hostile City or Bust brings forth the saga of the Irwin family (the Whiskey Rebel himself, wife Marla, and son Elvis) and their Eastbound escape from the self-righteous hidey-hole of Portland, Oregon, to the one and only Hostile City, U.S.A. (Philadelphia, PA). Defying fair-weather friends, ill advice, and even death itself at times, Irwin and family scope out the new homeland, box up the household, unload the cats, and set out in the “War Wagon” for a new life in the cheesesteak capitol of the world. And you can literally feel Irwin’s muscles tense and his nerves twitch as he deals with travel and accomodation aggravations, both real and imagined, each and every mile of the way. Every hassle and hazard conquered seems to lead only to an exponentially greater series of grievous encounters, or at least the expectation of such, as Irwin tests the limits of vehicular tolerance and human endurance with a running stream of bitching and grieving that reaches epically comedic proportions. Braving narrow wind-swept bridges, tornadoes, flaming tires, mountains, and national monuments, the War Wagon creeps across the nation underneath the speed limit as the family deals with beershits, crowds, unscrupulous servicepeople, stress, and even the infamous disappearing pizza. And after facing countless tiny terrors the Irwins reach South Philly only to have to deal with the grief of storage, new native customs, home rental, shifty employers, and Catholic prejudice. One thing and one thing only helps the Whiskey Rebel stay the course: booze, and plenty of it. “Ah, the power of positive drinking!” And cursing, of course. Lots of cursing. But it ain’t all a bad time, as Irwin’s honesty and humor conveys all of the journey’s small victories and comforts to the reader as well, and the book ends with everything working out better than expected, along with a positive note about the noble pioneer spirit. Just don’t pick it up right before your next move…

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