Three Delays

Charlie Smith, Author . Harper Perennial $14.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-185945-8

Poet and novelist Smith's latest foray into fiction (after poetry collection Word Comix ) is a moody love story (of sorts) in which a man and a woman seem destined never to find permanent happiness. Billy Brent, a former child preacher turned globe-trotting druggie, has been drawn to Alice Stephens since young Billy, acting as minister at Alice's Tom Thumb wedding, attacked the groom. They've been brutal together ever since. Whether he's traipsing around Europe with his friend Henry or working as a reporter in Miami, Billy can't get Alice off his mind, even though she's married to someone else. And though their troubled past does not bode well for a common future, they can't help themselves; amid trips on smugglers' boats, stints in jail, fistfights, and plenty of drugs, the occasionally violent lovers desperately try to figure out a way to be together without destroying one another. Smith's prose is the star: it's unruly, full of an agitated energy, darkly funny and generously dashed with lyricism. But the moments of enchantment diffuse into mystification, and the restlessness so apparent in the characters and prose infects the reader, leading to exhaustion rather than enlightenment. (June)

Reviewed on: 03/01/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-199260-5
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