A Year in Reading: Mark Haskell Smith

December 18, 2009 | 5 books mentioned 3

coverI had never been knocked out by a book – literally rendered unconscious – until a 4.2 earthquake dislodged my copy of 2666 by Roberto Bolaño from the top of my bookshelf. I was stunned by the fearlessness of the author, the sheer total awesomeness of the writing and by the weight of the volume. It’s a big book. Like seven or eight pounds.

Sitting in the waiting room of the neurologist’s office – the CAT scans were inconclusive as to why I had suffered from double-vision since the Bolaño book clobbered me – I read China Mieville’s The City and The City. That isn’t a typo, that’s the title of a novel that shocked me with its originality.

coverI was told to stay in bed until my vision cleared. My editor said he felt sorry for me, and yet somehow I got the impression that he believed I deserved to get whacked upside the head for reading an author published by another house, so he sent me Blood Safari by South African writer Deon Meyer with the cryptic note: “I think you’ll enjoy this.” I also enjoyed tomato soup, watermelon juice, Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo, You Must Be This Happy to Enter by Elizabeth Crane, a grilled cheese sandwich, and Other Resort Cities by Tod Goldberg.

More from A Year in Reading

is the author of four novels, Moist, Delicious, Salty and the forthcoming (August 2010) Baked.


  1. Have you read the rest of Izzo’s trilogy? I think Total Chaos is my favorite, but I loved the others too.

  2. I loved TOTAL CHAOS but haven’t gotten around to reading the other books in the trilogy. I have them in a stack in my living room waiting for me to make some bouillabaisse, open a bottle of wine, and crack them open.

  3. You’ve got to read the rest – ‘Solea’ is one of the most relentlessly intense pieces of fiction I’ve ever read.

    Loved the genre-bending weirdness of ‘The City & the City’, also.

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