I am thrilled to introduce the following guest post from our esteemed editor Michael Signorelli on the subject of Charlie Smith and his new book Three Delays, which goes on sale today. This violently romantic book is one of my favorites of the season, with one of my favorite covers ever (though I still miss a rejected one that had a guy who looked like a young Al Pacino on it), and one of my favorite quotes: ““If you left me, I would fade out like a dying Indian tribe. I’d disappear like the ivory-billed woodpecker. They’d see me, near the end, standing down on Calle Cinquo wearing one of your nightgowns, explaining things to the traffic.”
Take heed! Today is the on-sale date for Three Delays by the great Charlie Smith. Some of you may be fans of his poetry (Word Comix, Heroin, Women of America, etc) or remember his novels from the 1980s and early 1990s (Shine Hawk, Cheap Ticket to Heaven, Chimney Rock, etc) or may not know him at all, whatever the case, the fact remains, this is Charlie Smith’s first novel in a good, long while—almost fourteen years, in fact. Why the wait? Good things take time is all. Rick Moody in the current Believer calls Charlie “one of the very best prose writers in contemporary letters” and says that “Three Delays is so stunningly composed, so wildly, implausibly written, that it makes the entire shelf of novels from the last generation superfluous.” I couldn’t have said it better or with more righteous effusion.
Rick wasn’t the only reviewer moved to passionate hymns of praise. Donna Seaman wrote in her starred Booklist review that “This isn’t Smith’s first tale of toxic nihilistic obsession, but it is his most ravishing, painfully funny, and wildly mythic….This is infernal romance—hallucinatory, wanton, nourish, terrifying, and magnificently tragic.”
Their spirit is in keeping with that of Billy Brent, the novel’s male lead, who was a famous child preacher of the Floridian swamps. The pulpit’s fire never seems to have left him as he pursues his childhood love, Alice Stephens. Together they are star-crossed like all great lovers. Their need for each other drives them from Istanbul to Miami, Venice to Mexico. Only after years of encounters and escapes do they lose themselves deep in a desert wilderness for what may be their final adventure of the heart.
Charlie’s “rebel-angel prose” carries the day here and leads the reader from one sumptuous, practically phantasmagoric setting to the next. But let me stop right there. The book deserves to be read and Charlie celebrated. It’s an honor for HarperPerennial to publish his work.
Five randomly selected readers who respond in the comments will receive a free copy. Everyone else who doesn’t make the cut should follow one of the links below to purchase a copy. I know the blog doesn’t normally make direct pleas for purchase, but I rarely write here so figured I’d make it plain. Thanks for listening!