His books include And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Humor Writers About Their Craft and (co-writer) Sex: Our Bodies, Our Junk.
His new book is Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason, which contains pieces from The New Yorker, Esquire, Time, Vanity Fair, McSweeney’s, and other publications.
Earlier this month I asked Sacks what he was reading. His reply:
I'm currently reading The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith.Visit Mike Sacks's website.
Patricia Smith has always been a favorite of mine. From what I've read, she wasn't the nicest of people, which usually doesn't matter, especially when it concerns solitary writers, but I wonder if this is why she was able to so accurately capture the emotional nuances of her disturbed, damaged characters. It seems to me that each character is, if not a jerk, than a bit of a sociopath--capable of murder or emotional devastation with a flick of a knife or a (well) sharpened remark. It's incredible how well she digs into these characters' minds. If a reader doesn't necessarily like these characters, at the very least they'll come to know and understand them, much as they would a troubled relative or friend.
I know very few writers able to capture the madness of males as well as Smith does; the jealousies, the feelings of inadequacy, the desperate hopelessness of a life that didn't pan out as expected. She really manages to do this better than practically any other writer I know, perhaps with the exception of Richard Yates or John Updike.
What I also find impressive is how each of her stories truly feels like a nightmare; they're claustrophobic and come circling back to various emotional or plot points at strange times and bizarre angles--and yet they always hold true to our realistic world. This is very difficult to pull off in books; it's much easier to accomplish in film, but there have been times when I've finished a Patricia Smith novel and wondered if I had even read it. Perhaps I dreamt it all?
Buy her books. She will not disappoint.