Charlie Smith continues to turn out beautiful prose. This time its a lush homage to his own Key West (as well as other southern Florida environs: the Everglades, Miami, Cuba) through the desperate lens of a no-nonsense family/crime saga.— From Jason's Picks
In Men in Miami Hotels, Smith tells the story of Cot Sims, a listing Miami gangster who returns to Key West aiming to—among other things—save his fool-proof mother from homelessness after a recent hurricane. For love, for cash, and for the hell of it, he snatches a trove of emeralds that his boss, the relentlessly vicious Albertson, keeps hidden on a small island. And then trouble, which has been coiling around him for years like a snake, bites.
Cot has forty-eight hours to return the emeralds before items of equal or greater value—namely, the lives of everyone he loves—are repossessed by Albertson and his army of hired gunmen. Fleeing across the Caribbean, Cot blazes a trail of survival, skeltering between the narrowing walls of fate.
Charlie Smith has been called a novelist of "appalling brilliance" on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. Critics have praised his work with the fervor of converts. And his prose, as radiant and dynamic as it has ever been, "lands him in the ranks of America's greatest contemporary fiction writers" (Houston Chronicle).
About the Author
Charlie Smith is the author of eight novels and eight books of poetry. He has won numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including the Aga Khan Prize, the Levinson Prize, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the New York Times. Five of his books have been named as New York Times Notable Books of the Year or as Editors’ Choices. He lives in New York City.
“Smith’s prose is pitch perfect and fierce, and I’m always glad to find myself on a ride through his America, in the company of his Americans and the dark, absurd tumult of their passionate follies.”
— Philip Gourevitch, New Yorker
“Charlie Smith’s terrific new novel…walks a line between genre and something considerably wilder, a fictional territory where a character might lose his or her soul…where narrative arises out of language, and scenes are important less for what happens in them than for how they are described.”
— David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
“In Smith’s masterfully lyrical prose, what could have been a simple pulpy adventure becomes a rewarding, and even challenging, examination of time, fate and fatalism that recalls the best work of Denis Johnson or Robert Stone.”
— Nicholas Mancusi, Miami Herald
“[T]he perfect summer read, especially if you like your summer reads perfectly offbeat…Men in Miami Hotels reads like a suspenser by Elmore Leonard, if Leonard were having a fever dream….He writes like an angel, an angel...with a broken heart.”
— Kurt Rabin, Free Lance-Star
“Smith writes some of the most elaborately beautiful sentences of any writer living today, and in Men in Miami Hotels, these sentences coil dreamily around the lush Floridian landscape, the loved women wrinkling before Cot’s eyes, the undignified final breaths breathed in sudden bloodbaths.”
— Tracy O'Neill, L Magazine
“A mastery such as Smith’s is rare, and…the bounties furnished are great: pearls of understanding that circle some kind of holy instruction; the author’s gifts to us for better navigation in our own stories; and tools that we will access long after the precise arrangement of words has left us.”
— Kathleen Alcott, Los Angeles Review of Books
“What’s better for your poolside reading than a good old literary gangster novel? That’s what you’ll get and more from the always excellent Charlie Smith, who manages to spin a violent tale with uncommon poeticism and knockout sentences.”
— Emily Temple, Flavorwire
“Smith’s edgy prose is as arresting as Miami art deco, and the psychology at work here is as tangled and dark as a mangrove swamp….Smith turns a rogue gangster’s tale into a glimmering, sharply faceted, hauntingly philosophical tragedy of cosmic flaws, stunning betrayals, and bloody revenge.”
— Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Smith writes in a curious blend of registers that has the narrative drive of an airplane read and the mystical resonance of verse…The result is a haunting and starkly grim fantasia on love, mourning, and the alienation inflicted by time.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Charlie Smith fills language with so much life that his fictional worlds take on an uncanny substance. We can taste those mackerel fillets straight out of the old metal drum smoker, inhale the smell of starlight, and share the guilty exhilaration as Cot slips and slides his way toward survival.”
— Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me
“Charlie Smith is one of America’s top unsung heroes of literature…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.”
— Chris Offutt, author of No Heroes and The Same River Twice
“With exquisite nonchalance, Smith follows his smart, witty gangsters in this exciting novel of love, danger, and intrigue. He does something else as well: he incorporates the sheer joy of being alive. Bravo to him for this bold gift to us…This tale is his streetwise, life-affirming masterwork.”
— Paul West, author of The Tent of Orange Mist
“In the end I was too interested in the unexpected plot, too surprised by his characters, too taken with his turns of phrase, to reject him. I was also too seduced by the island sounds and scent of the coastal foliage, the softer, lovelier side of the Orientalist gaze.”
— Lydia Kiesling, The Millions