Monday, December 2, 2013

Mark Haskell Smith

Mark Haskell Smith is the author of five novels, Moist, Delicious, Salty, Baked, and Raw: A Love Story, as well as the non-fiction book Heart of Dankness: Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup.

Last month I asked the author about what he was reading. Smith's reply:
I always juggle a couple of books, alternating somewhat randomly between fiction and non-fiction. Right now I’m reading Nigerians in Space, the debut novel by a writer named Deji Olukotun. It’s one of the first books published by Ricochet Books, a boutique publishing startup in Los Angeles. (The book is officially available in January 2014.) It’s a strange and entertaining ride, kind of a spy thriller -- if Nigeria had a spy agency like MI-5 -- that involves stolen moon rocks, abalone smugglers, and rebel fighters all swirling around in the African diaspora. The characters are great and it’s a fast and funny read with sharp political subtext about identity and exile. I’m really digging it.

For my money, Canadian Lisa Moore is -- along with Jess Walter, Tom Drury, and Elizabeth Crane -- one of the most interesting writers working right now. Her novel Alligator was, on the surface, about the collision between an amateur environmental activist, a filmmaker, a psychopath, and a hot dog vendor set in a small Newfoundland town, and yet it was narratively bold, soulful, strange and beautifully written. Pretty much all the things I look for in a book, with the added bonus that she subverted my expectations. So I was very excited to get an advance reader’s copy of her new book, Caught, which is about an escaped convict on the run. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do with something that might be called a “thriller.” (Caught comes out in February 2014.)

For non-fiction I have Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto sitting on my desk. I spent a lot of time in Amsterdam writing my non-fiction book Heart of Dankness and I’ve developed a real fondness for the city. This will be my way of going back for a visit without having to sit on a KLM flight for ten hours.
Learn more about Raw at the author's website.

--Marshal Zeringue