Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week.
Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. He’s just seen a woman on a Los Angeles talk show claiming to be Joan, and absolution seems closer than it’s ever been . . . but how will he find her?
When Marvin heads to Los Angeles to locate the woman who may or may not be Joan, he’s picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale, a self-destructive alcoholic painter traveling to his ex-wife’s funeral. As they move through a California landscape populated with “smokes” (ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout the southwestern US), each seeks absolution in his own way.
In Smoke City, Keith Rosson continues to blur genre and literary fiction in a way that is in turns surprising, heartfelt, brutal, relentlessly inventive, and entirely his own.
Reading a second time through is really fascinating, so much more of the ‘is fate real, and anyone can recompense’ message seeps through. Still one of my top 5 recommended books. A thought provoking read.
You read that blurb, and look at that cover, and still you’ll have no idea that journey you’re about to embark on. Smoke City will make you book drunk. Having finished it, after not being able to put it down, I am still basking in the book drunk feeling. The message that Smoke City delivers is profound, and loud & clear by the end of the novel. If you are questioning whether or not to read this book, just do it. It’s worth the read.
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