Long into a much-praised career as a poet, Smith has returned to fiction and his gift for language, his eye for nature—both human and the rest of it—is everywhere evident. This new book is a noir novel about stealing from the mob, so expect guns and gangsters. Less expected is that it’s also the story of a grown man searching for his mother’s love.
The hero of Smith’s latest venture into poeticized genre fiction is Cot Sims, a Miami gangster with a fondness for Virgil’s Georgics who returns to Key West to visit his estranged mother. Hoping to help her out of financial difficulties, Cot makes the fatal misstep of stealing precious emeralds from his ruthless boss…Dodging bullets and outwitting assassins, Cot struggles with his tempestuous love life and family relationships, all while fighting off a sense of existential homelessness. A poet as well as a novelist, Smith writes in a curious blend of registers that has the narrative drive of an airplane read and the mystical resonance of verse…[Smith] deserves credit for demonstrating that clichéd grindhouse plots are not incompatible with ravishing sentences. The result is a haunting and starkly grim fantasia on love, mourning, and the alienation inflicted by time.” – Publishers Weekly
“Charlie Smith is one of America’s top unsung heroes of literature. His new novel evokes the atmospheric mood of Key West and Havana. The action is casually explosive as career criminal Cot Sims confronts his past, his true love, and his true nature. Come for the character and the story, but stay for the beautiful prose-intricate and lyric and startling. I loved this book.”
— Chris Offutt
Men in Miami Hotels (9780062247278) Charlie Smith. $14.99 trade paper original. 7/2/13 on sale.