Bomb Magazine: Charlie Smith

John Reed with Charlie Smith


Long talk with Charlie Smith for Bomb Magazine.  With audio clip.

Another summer in the city. It’s a heat wave—as bad as it used to be, but a month early. Nowadays, August cools off, and in July, we’re still new to this new summer—and better able to withstand the heat. Maybe it’s the sense that material stuff doesn’t have quite the same hold on us, maybe it’s that the rents have gone down, maybe it’s the accumulation of happenstance that makes for fate, but this summer, the city is smiling, almost enlightened. Charlie Smith arrives at my office dressed for a divine day anywhere in the world: white linen and jeans.

Smith, the recipient of numerous accolades and the author of six novels and seven books of poetry, distinguishes his prose with precise metaphor, and insight that bridges lyricism and candor. His most recent novel, Three Delays (Harper Perennial), chronicles the deep love and bumpy journey of Billy Brent and Alice Stephens. Istanbul, Florida, Italy, Mexico—the geography is global, but the cartography is internal, and one of dissolute sameness. Through multiple partings and reconciliations, the lovers can never entirely leave one another—but nor can they find one another.

Smith and I discuss the best seating arrangement, move the table closer to the air conditioner, and hunker down. I nervously deploy the space-age digital recorder. …

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