Smoke City
Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week.Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. He’s just seen a woman on a Los Angeles talk show claiming to be Joan, and absolution seems closer than it’s ever been... but how will he find her?When Marvin heads to Los Angeles to locate the woman who may or may not be Joan, he’s picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale, a self-destructive alcoholic painter traveling to his ex-wife’s funeral. As they move through a California landscape populated with “smokes” (ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout the southwestern US), each seeks absolution in his own way.

Smoke City Details

TitleSmoke City
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 23rd, 2018
PublisherMeerkat Press, LLC
Rating
GenreMagical Realism, Fantasy, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Adult, Paranormal

Smoke City Review

  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    Smoke City is a wonderfully unusual book that is a bit hard to pin down or categorize. It has underlying themes of guilt, redemption, penance, forgiveness, and despair. It has a story that spans centuries, beginning with the childhood memories of the executioner who lit the flame in 1431 when he burned the Maid of Orleans - aka Joan of Arc - at the stake. Though that was his career, what could come of killing the embodiment of goodness and light on Earth? What possible penance could ever be enou Smoke City is a wonderfully unusual book that is a bit hard to pin down or categorize. It has underlying themes of guilt, redemption, penance, forgiveness, and despair. It has a story that spans centuries, beginning with the childhood memories of the executioner who lit the flame in 1431 when he burned the Maid of Orleans - aka Joan of Arc - at the stake. Though that was his career, what could come of killing the embodiment of goodness and light on Earth? What possible penance could ever be enough? How he can he ever find forgiveness? For six hundred years, he has suffered the curse of his grievous sin and been reborn over and over again, never getting absolution. It’s also a buddy road trip story following in the wake of Kerouac and Neal Cassidy travels, seeing America in a broken van picking up Hitchhikers and stowaways. Marvin Dietz is the hitchhiker, a record store owner in Portland whose obsession with seeking Joan’s forgiveness for his sins in his past life earn him a seat on his psychiatrist’s couch till he sees a porn star on daytime tv declare that she’s posssed by Joan of Arc’s spirit. His erstwhile partner in crime is drunken loser Mike Vale, once the world’s most promising young artist, now condemned to asking customers if they’d like fries with that and on a mission to make peace with his ex-wife or her spirit perhaps.And, on top of this cavalcade of wounded spirits, we get apparitions or ghosts or smokes, appearing seemingly randomly along freeways and in vacant lots, scaring the crap out of people. Hollywood is now Smoke City.Smoke City is crazy. Not at all like what you’d expect. Many thanks to Meerkat Press for providing a copy for review.
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  • Keith Rosson
    January 1, 1970
    Hands down the best novel about Joan of Arc's remorseful and reincarnated executioner taking a road trip to LA with a downtrodden and self-destructive ex-art star that I'VE ever written, I can tell you that much.
  • Kristen Burns
    January 1, 1970
    4 StarsReview:*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*This was one of those books that called to me as soon as I read the blurb. And fortunately, this book was exactly what I was hoping it would be—strange, quirky, and offbeat, but also touching. The characters had depth and unique voices. The writing was rich. The plot was fairly slow, but that’s because the plot wasn’t really the point—this was all about the characters and their inner journeys.I 4 StarsReview:*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*This was one of those books that called to me as soon as I read the blurb. And fortunately, this book was exactly what I was hoping it would be—strange, quirky, and offbeat, but also touching. The characters had depth and unique voices. The writing was rich. The plot was fairly slow, but that’s because the plot wasn’t really the point—this was all about the characters and their inner journeys.I found Mike Vale, the alcoholic artist, to be the most interesting character. He seemed to be both awed at the beauty of all the life around him but also completely disenchanted with his own life and life in general. Above all else though, he was a mess. A perpetually drunk and hungover, battered, shameful mess. “Rolling chaos” he was called by one character. But, despite knowing he brought most of his problems on himself because of his drinking problem—which, just for the record, was not romanticized—and despite him being kind of a terrible person in some ways (e.g. cheated on his ex, drove drunk), I still pitied him and felt for him and found him likeable in an odd sort of way. In some ways, his disenchantment was relatable, and if not relatable, then entertaining. Haven’t we all fantasized at one point or another about punching some womanizing jerk talking loudly on his phone about his latest conquest? Or about dramatically quitting a dead-end job? Haven’t we all had one of those days where we figured we might as well jump into the next problem full-throttle since things couldn’t possibly get any worse? And his POV was written in a way that was almost poetic at times, but not in a fanciful, flowery sort of way. Kind of poetic but rough and gritty. Somehow it actually matched Mike’s simultaneous awe and disenchantment.Marvin was interesting in a different way because of his past as Joan of Arc’s executioner, his guilt and torment over that (and the other executions and tortures he committed), and his despair over the curse of being reborn over and over but having to remember every life. The book explored the emotional impact of remembering a bunch of past lives like that in more depth than I was expecting. There was also a lot about his life as the executioner. I can’t say how accurate any of that was, but the author didn’t skimp on the harsh realities of life during that time; it was terrible and disgusting and miserable.Even Casper turned out to be oddly lovable. He was just a young adult, fresh out of high school (I think), trying to get out of his small town and follow his dreams, and he was actually kind of sweet. He had Mike’s and Marvin’s backs, helped them out without even seeming to think about it, when they needed it.And these three men, they just got kind of thrown together by chance (or maybe not chance, if you subscribe to Marvin’s beliefs about signs), but they stuck together, out of some sense of loyalty or divinity or maybe just plain desperation. But it was sweet.I will say though that this book is not super fantasy/paranormal. There are the smokes, but, again, they’re not really the point. I’ve been told this book is kind of a cross between fantasy and literary fiction, so make of that what you will. It certainly didn’t stop me from enjoying it.So overall, this is a book about unique, touching friendships, flawed but oddly likeable characters just doing their best to get by, redemption, and a whole lot of character development, and I’m glad I read it!Recommended For:Anyone who likes character-focused books, flawed characters, uniquely poetic writing, and touching friendships. Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight ---------------------Initial Thoughts:Offbeat and touching with some really flawed but oddly likeable characters. Full review soon!
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    In the near future, ghosts referred to as “smokes” have started appearing in southern California and northern Mexico, with Los Angeles as smoke central. These ghosts don’t go ‘boo’; they do not interact with people at all. They just show up, do their thing, and disappear. Mike Vale lives in Portland, OR. Once the most highly praised young artist in the US, for years he’s been a self-destructive drunk who hasn’t painted a thing. Upon getting word that his ex-wife has suddenly died, he feels he mu In the near future, ghosts referred to as “smokes” have started appearing in southern California and northern Mexico, with Los Angeles as smoke central. These ghosts don’t go ‘boo’; they do not interact with people at all. They just show up, do their thing, and disappear. Mike Vale lives in Portland, OR. Once the most highly praised young artist in the US, for years he’s been a self-destructive drunk who hasn’t painted a thing. Upon getting word that his ex-wife has suddenly died, he feels he must get down to LA for her funeral. He begins a guilt driven road trip. Marvin Deitz owns a vintage record store, and is being evicted by the mob connected landlord. He is on a short leash with his therapist, because he’s been open about his belief that he is the reincarnation of the executioner who lit the fire that killed Joan of Arc. He also figures he’s about to die, since not once in his many, many lifetimes has he lived past 57- and his birthday is in a few days (he remembers every one of his lives). When he sees a woman on a TV talk show who claims to be the reincarnation of Joan of Arc, he feels he must talk with her and maybe, at long last, be forgiven for what he did. He needs a ride to LA. Casper is a nerd who dreams of being a ghost hunter. He figures that the smokes are a great opportunity to become one and have his own reality show- but he has no car. So this odd trio ends up on the freeway heading south to LA. Everything that can go wrong, does. While all three are on quests, it’s pretty much a character driven book. It’s sort of like a grail quest mashed up with “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. I really enjoyed this book. For all the grim story lines dealing with guilt and alcoholism, it was amusing. I ended up liking all the characters (even Mike), and was happy with how the story turned out. This is only the second book by this author, and I see he’s grown since the first one (which was also very good). Four and a half stars.
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  • Barb (Boxermommyreads)
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes you just read a book that's hard to explain but which also really clicks with you. Smoke City is that book. So basically Marvin, one of the three MCs, believes that he is personally responsible for executing Joan of Arc many many years ago and that because of doing so, he is cursed to be reborn over and over again. He also believes that his time is up in a few weeks. Suddenly Marvin sees an individual who claims to be Joan of Arc reincarnated, and he is on a mission to find her and apo Sometimes you just read a book that's hard to explain but which also really clicks with you. Smoke City is that book. So basically Marvin, one of the three MCs, believes that he is personally responsible for executing Joan of Arc many many years ago and that because of doing so, he is cursed to be reborn over and over again. He also believes that his time is up in a few weeks. Suddenly Marvin sees an individual who claims to be Joan of Arc reincarnated, and he is on a mission to find her and apologize. Marvin end up teaming up with Mike, a down-on-his luck alcoholic and once famous artist whose ex-wife just died. California is being overpopulated with ghostly apparitions called "smokes" so the third member of our crew is a wanna-be paranormal investigation named Casper - yes, you can snicker - Casper the ghost hunter!So all three are on a road trip to Los Angeles for their own reason and honestly, it's been a long time since I've met such a likable group of unlikable characters. These people are flawed - REALLY REALLY flawed, but man, are they fun to read about. Smoke City is a very character driven book and I really became invested in what happened to Marvin, Mike and Casper.This book may not be for everyone. In fact, every time I look at the cover I think "That book must be really out there." And it is, but man is it a fun trip to an unknown destination.
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  • Shomeret
    January 1, 1970
    Smoke City by Keith Rosson is my second literary encounter with this author. My first was in Behind The Mask: A Superhero Anthology. Both books were sent to me by the publisher, Meerkat Press, as ARCs for review.Near future Los Angeles is having a huge epidemic of spectral appearances in Smoke City, but we don't become aware of them until the characters arrive there. That's because this fantasy isn't primarily about ghosts. It focuses on the characters. There are two major viewpoint characters w Smoke City by Keith Rosson is my second literary encounter with this author. My first was in Behind The Mask: A Superhero Anthology. Both books were sent to me by the publisher, Meerkat Press, as ARCs for review.Near future Los Angeles is having a huge epidemic of spectral appearances in Smoke City, but we don't become aware of them until the characters arrive there. That's because this fantasy isn't primarily about ghosts. It focuses on the characters. There are two major viewpoint characters who are central to the narrative.The first is Michael Vale, a former artist who has become a self-destructive alcoholic. He is somewhat sympathetic because he was cheated out of the rights to his work by his agent. Marvin Deitz is far more interesting and compelling. He is the latest incarnation of a 15th century Frenchman who lit the fire that burned Joan of Arc. He has been cursed to a continuous cycle of violent death and rebirth since then, and is consumed with guilt. Marvin also remembers every detail of his past lives without any need for past life regression therapy.For Vale and Marvin, their journey to Los Angeles turns out to be transformative. Vale experiences character growth, and Marvin has some extraordinary experiences with ghosts that change everything for him. I was glad to see the much improved Vale, and a happier Marvin. Readers who like their urban fantasy with a focus on characters, and a historical dimension will probably like Smoke City a great deal.For my complete review see http://shomeretmasked.blogspot.com/20...
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  • Courtney
    January 1, 1970
    I received this ARC for free in exchange for my honest review.Wow. Just...wow.I had no idea what to expect when I got this book and even after I started it, I still wasn't sure what to expect. There were so many individual and interesting pieces happening all at once but there was never a single time that the story drug on. The writing was brilliant, the story was great, and I definitely shed a few tears. Tears usually mean 5 stars.Mike Vale was a young and insanely famous artist once upon a tim I received this ARC for free in exchange for my honest review.Wow. Just...wow.I had no idea what to expect when I got this book and even after I started it, I still wasn't sure what to expect. There were so many individual and interesting pieces happening all at once but there was never a single time that the story drug on. The writing was brilliant, the story was great, and I definitely shed a few tears. Tears usually mean 5 stars.Mike Vale was a young and insanely famous artist once upon a time but his life quickly went down hill and he was never really able to find his footing again until the death of his ex-wife, the only woman he ever loved, forces him to take a good hard look at his life on his way to her funeral in LA. On his way there he picks up Marvin; Marvin has lived a thousand lives and carries his guilt (and a curse) around with him for being the one who dropped the match on Joan of Arc's pyre. Meanwhile, ghosts, or 'smokes' as people have started calling them, are popping up all over the city of angels and no one can seem to figure out the why, where, or how of them. Off topic: I'd just like to add the fact that the CDC being the ones to deal with the smokes was hilarious to me in ways that I cannot explain. It's such a messed up American government thing to do that I believe 1000% that if we ever got smokes for real, this is exactly how it would play out. Above all though, I loved that this was a story about redemption. It really stuck with me and I just loved how it all wrapped up. I am so glad that I got the chance to read this book. Honestly, I don't think that it would have been something I'd bought on my own just because it's not my usual thing but it was such a great read. I cannot stress that enough.
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  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    5 starsIn this novel, we meet Mike Vale who was once a world-famous artist whose works sold for millions of dollars. Some years later he has become an alcoholic who hasn’t painted in years. We also meet Marvin Dietz who is in the process of being evicted by his suspected mob-connected landlord. His therapist is worried about him and he is delusional and imagines that he is the reincarnation of Geoffroy Therage. Geoffroy is the man who met Joan of Arc only once – on the day he executed her in Fra 5 starsIn this novel, we meet Mike Vale who was once a world-famous artist whose works sold for millions of dollars. Some years later he has become an alcoholic who hasn’t painted in years. We also meet Marvin Dietz who is in the process of being evicted by his suspected mob-connected landlord. His therapist is worried about him and he is delusional and imagines that he is the reincarnation of Geoffroy Therage. Geoffroy is the man who met Joan of Arc only once – on the day he executed her in France. Mike is on his way to Los Angeles to attend his ex-wife’s funeral when he picks up Marvin. Marvin wants to journey there to meet a woman who calls herself Joan of Arc. He finds Mike’s picking him up as a portent. As they drive through California on their way to LA, the landscape is being populated with “smokes” ghost-like apparitions that have begun to appear all over the Southwestern US. This is a story about friendship and two men looking for redemption. The reader is sent on an empathic journey as they make their way to Los Angeles. Keith Rosson draws pictures with words. His use of the English language is beautiful. The reader was in the car with Mike and Marvin – literally. I liked the characters in all their tortured glory. They were heroes in their own way. This book was so differently written that at first I had trouble thinking about what exactly to write about it. But it is wonderful, engaging and uniquely interesting. I was drawn to it. This book is very different from the other book of his that I’ve read, Mercy of the Tide. I want to thank NetGalley and Meerkat Press, LLC for forwarding to me a copy of this most remarkable book to read and enjoy.
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful...sad...horrific...funny...incredibly enjoyable read spanning 600 years in the life of the executioner of Jean D'ArcReview to follow
  • TheReadingLawyer
    January 1, 1970
    Smoke City drew me in instantly. Keith Rosson's writing is fun and engaging with the perfect amount of irony and sarcasm. From first person to third person, present day to flashbacks, multiple viewpoints, this book really has it all. The reader learns to love all of the characters for all of their flaws, of which they have many.The way in which the different stories come together to form a cohesive and beautifully absurd plot keeps the reader turning page after page. This was by no means a myste Smoke City drew me in instantly. Keith Rosson's writing is fun and engaging with the perfect amount of irony and sarcasm. From first person to third person, present day to flashbacks, multiple viewpoints, this book really has it all. The reader learns to love all of the characters for all of their flaws, of which they have many.The way in which the different stories come together to form a cohesive and beautifully absurd plot keeps the reader turning page after page. This was by no means a mystery but I found myself in a state of delightful suspense during many parts of the book. Underlying all of the drama and backstory lies a tale of friendship and empathy.I will refrain from comparing Keith Rosson to other great authors as I never find that helpful in a review, so do yourself a favor and just pick this book up and set aside some time to enjoy it. If you're looking for a wild ride, lively characters and a story that conveys. among other things, that regardless of age, people can change and grow, then look no further than Smoke City.I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. This does not affect my review, my opinion of the book or any such related content.
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  • Fanna
    January 1, 1970
    Smoke City is a character-driven road trip that individually brings two guilt-ridden men under a spotlight to win a mission of their own. This story was insane because the characters were insane and all in a good way. Each character's ark is evidently well worked upon and makes them not only come alive to me, but I can sympathise with them too (not literally, just as a nineteen-year-old reader, LOL). Marvin is a 57-year-old man who sets out to apologise a woman who claims to have been possesse Smoke City is a character-driven road trip that individually brings two guilt-ridden men under a spotlight to win a mission of their own. This story was insane because the characters were insane and all in a good way. Each character's ark is evidently well worked upon and makes them not only come alive to me, but I can sympathise with them too (not literally, just as a nineteen-year-old reader, LOL). Marvin is a 57-year-old man who sets out to apologise a woman who claims to have been possessed by Joan of Arc's soul, because he was the executioner who had lit the killing fire for the French woman. Also, all through the trip, he's worried about his fast-approaching birthday because he has never, in his past lives, ever lived past the threshold of fifty-seven years. Speaking of past lives, he remembers all of them, unfortunately.Mike Vale is different from Marvin but still in almost the same boat. He was once an admired artist who dropped down a hole of alcohol (metaphorically) and followed a path of self-destruction from there on. Having done quite a few disagreeable works, he's now on his way to LA to attend his ex-wife's funeral because maybe that can be a start to his repentance for a number of deeds. In addition to these two, there's a fresh out of high-school guy, Casper, who has his own dreams he wants to accomplish and tagging along the two would be his best chance at the moment. The plot is centred around the two but there's a hint of fantasy with ghosts roaming the streets who are called smokes. Though this gives a fine side-story to care about for a while, it wasn't the highlight—and I liked it that way. The character development is amazingly executed and definitely makes you feel sad or angry or frustrated when they recount their past decisions and experiences. This road trip is a journey that the readers takes alongside them and while the pacing can sometimes be a bit too slow, it doesn't bore anyone to the brim and let's you stay a while longer. The writing is another great aspect of this story. Both third-person and first-person narrations are used to tell Mike and Marvin's story, respectively. In fact, there are newspaper articles, journal entries and even radio interviews to get the story across, and I don't know what could be more impressive. There are descriptive words and staggering emotions to the mix that made the entire trip more fun...and emotionally tiring. The book brings across all the poignant lines effectively. Overall, this was a really good read that I (truly, unexpectedly) enjoyed! I would recommend this to all those who are enthusiastic about utterly flawed characters who slide down their redemption arcs in a wonderful way, all the while emotionally reaching out to the reader. Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via a promotional blog tour but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you XpressoBookTours, Meerkat Press and Keith Rosson! Blog | Twitter | Tumblr
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  • Birdie O
    January 1, 1970
    In his new novel, Smoke City, Keith Rosson takes you on an unbelievable journey, not just through physical impossibilities, but also through an emotional realities.  Unlikeable characters are likeable, to the point where your heart breaks for them in their self-inflicted tragedies.  Mostly, this story is about 3 men, all trying to make it to Los Angeles for varying reasons, annd mostly those reasons have to do with redemption and forgiveness.Mike Vale really hits you in the gut.  His story is on In his new novel, Smoke City, Keith Rosson takes you on an unbelievable journey, not just through physical impossibilities, but also through an emotional realities.  Unlikeable characters are likeable, to the point where your heart breaks for them in their self-inflicted tragedies.  Mostly, this story is about 3 men, all trying to make it to Los Angeles for varying reasons, annd mostly those reasons have to do with redemption and forgiveness.Mike Vale really hits you in the gut.  His story is one we see over and over in the tabloids and on the news.  We lament that celebrity ruined a person, and watch from afar while holding ourselves separate.  But Rosson is able to write that tragedy in such a way that it breathes new life into it because he is able to drag you into the demise.  You feel the loss and the despair, the hope, and the pain of defeat.  And you keep hoping, just like everybody around him, that Mike will find his redemption...that he will be saved from himself and his addictions.Marvin is more likeable, but still seems to be a rather frustrated and sad man, resigned to his fate of never being able to move on from this plane.  The snippets of his past lives and obvservations about them heading each chapter are amazingly well-done and lend credibility to what is a seriously incredible story. I started the story wondering if he was delusional, but ended it with the firm belief that he was not.  Such is the power of the journey the men embark on.There is a lot of coincidence vs. divine intervention...or even The Curse, as Marvin calls it.  So many things that seem minor come up again later, proving that nothing in this story can be discounted.  Rosson makes a point to tie up almost all the loose ends.  I wish I knew what happened to Candice.  I wish I knew why the smokes started showing up when they did...and why it took so long for Marvin to find his purpose.  The ending, however, was more than satisfactory.  After the heaviness of the work, Rosson throws you a bone...one that is sorely needed.There isn't a lot that I didn't like about this book.  Excellent bouts of humor interspersed with searing moments of sadness keep you moving through the murk that is a world turned inside out.  As smokes become more and more frequent, it becomes more and more apparent that Marvin is linked to them, somehow.  His roller coaster ride through hope, despair, and fear is something that must be experienced, if only because it is so very real.  Rosson paints a very real picture of what it means to be flawed and still believe that you must have a purpose.If nothing else, read this because for the first time in a long time, I spent the last 15% of the book sobbing and laughing as the search the characters set themselves on culminates in sometimes surprising ways.  I very highly recommend this book.
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  • Milos Mojsilovic
    January 1, 1970
    “Los Angeles, California. Home of Hollywood’s extravagant entertainment industry, where fortunes are made and dreams come true. But that’s not all that makes up Los Angeles. Not anymore. Ghosts— visions and specters— now haunt the city."Imagine if you will....the year is 1431. & you are Geoffroy Thérage, the executioner who set Joan of Arc on fire. After that you live out the rest of your life believing that you will be condemned for that act. And then, few decades later, you die. But that i “Los Angeles, California. Home of Hollywood’s extravagant entertainment industry, where fortunes are made and dreams come true. But that’s not all that makes up Los Angeles. Not anymore. Ghosts— visions and specters— now haunt the city."Imagine if you will....the year is 1431. & you are Geoffroy Thérage, the executioner who set Joan of Arc on fire. After that you live out the rest of your life believing that you will be condemned for that act. And then, few decades later, you die. But that is not the end. You are reborn.. again, and again, and again. For centuries. Always with a birt defect and always with perfect recollection of all your past lives. And never able to get absolution for the act you committed almost 600 years ago. Until now.As he's making his way to L.A. to meet a person who's claiming to be Joan, he is picked up by Mike Vale. Once a promising painter, now just a drunk on his way to his ex-wife's funeral. With air travel banned due to "ghost" appearing & scaring people shitless, they are driving through California in search of absolution. Each for their own reasons. Faith has brought them together, and they're about to find out why.WOW. Keith Rosson. All those great writers that have the ability to capture your attention, not just with a single page but just with their names written on the cover. You pick them up and you know you're about to read something good. Their writing can transport you to the pages, stir emotions inside of you in a way you didn't know a book can. You read and even if the work is fictional it's tangible, it becomes real & it's relatable. Cause we've all been there or know someone who has. It doesn't shy away from the realistic; from the gritty and the dirty. It's free flowing, it's a string of thoughts put on paper so easily, so fluidly. It's a current that will sweep you away & you won't mind. Cause it's something beautiful, something exquisite, something you only hear about, not something that happens to you, so when it does, you get caught up in its beauty. The brush of an artist, the word of a writer. Something magnificent, something to behold and something to get lost in.Well Keith is one of those writers. Or at the very least he's in his way there. And this book, this book man. Read it, cause its worth getting lost in.
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  • Lynda Dickson
    January 1, 1970
    Mike Vale is a brilliant artist who has fallen from grace into drunken obscurity. When his ex-wife dies suddenly, he feels compelled to travel to Los Angeles for her funeral. He picks up hitchhiker Marvin Deitz, who has been reincarnated and forced to die again and again as penance for executing Joan of Arc. Marvin is due to die again soon and is headed to Los Angeles in a last-ditch effort at redemption. Along the way, they pick up another hitchhiker - the ironically named Casper - a ghost hunt Mike Vale is a brilliant artist who has fallen from grace into drunken obscurity. When his ex-wife dies suddenly, he feels compelled to travel to Los Angeles for her funeral. He picks up hitchhiker Marvin Deitz, who has been reincarnated and forced to die again and again as penance for executing Joan of Arc. Marvin is due to die again soon and is headed to Los Angeles in a last-ditch effort at redemption. Along the way, they pick up another hitchhiker - the ironically named Casper - a ghost hunter on his way to Los Angeles to make a reality show about “smokes”, the ghostly figures whose appearance in LA is becoming a regular occurrence. When these three lost souls come together, their lives will be changed forever.The story is told from the points-of-view of Mike in the third person and Marvin in the first person, including entries from the journal he has been keeping over the centuries. Their accounts are interspersed with excerpts from newspaper articles, religious pamphlets, CDC pamphlets, and even a radio interview. The characters are perfectly flawed, and you will come to love each of them. And the way their stories converge is nothing short of amazing. The author sure has a way with words; his descriptions of Mike’s filthy apartment are so real that I am practically gagging right alongside Mike himself. His drunken bouts are also all too real, as are his hangovers. Full of heartbreak and despair, this tale of friendship, love, and forgiveness is highly original and ultimately uplifting. Brilliant.Warnings: coarse language, alcohol abuse, drug use.I received this book in return for an honest review.Full blog post (29 January): https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.co...
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  • Annette Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    An unusual and interesting book , and one that is difficult to pin down, but definitely one that I enjoyed reading. Beginning with two very disparate story threads , it is a testament to the skill and imagination of the author that by the ending of the book, they have been woven together completely seamlessly, The central character of the first story thread is Mike Vale, an alcoholic who thew away his marriage and incredibly successful art career, and is now reaching rock bottom, while in the ot An unusual and interesting book , and one that is difficult to pin down, but definitely one that I enjoyed reading. Beginning with two very disparate story threads , it is a testament to the skill and imagination of the author that by the ending of the book, they have been woven together completely seamlessly, The central character of the first story thread is Mike Vale, an alcoholic who thew away his marriage and incredibly successful art career, and is now reaching rock bottom, while in the other thread we follow Marvin Deitz, , record store owner, though not for much longer if his landlord has his way, who also just happens to be the reincarnation of the executioner responsible for the burning of Joan of Arc. As punishment for this crime he has been reincarnated over the centuries , suffering many horrific injuries and deaths, and now he feels like the time has come to redeem himself. When both men find themselves on the road to LA both stories wind together in a wonderful, if unexpected way. I read an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own. It is difficult to pin down the genre of this book, there are some wonderful chapters of historical fiction as we lean about Marvin's original life in medieval France and an element of fantasy in the hints of a ghost story but ultimately this is a book about redemption and is largely driven by the two different but equally intriguing characters.
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  • Irene Adam
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free advance e-copy of this book and have chosen to write an honest and unbiased review. I have no personal affiliation with the author. ‘Smoke City’ starts out at a slow pace and seemed to be a little confusing at the beginning as the author backgrounds the story and develops the characters in order to familiarize the reader with each character. Stick with it as once the story gets going the different stories of each character come together and merge into a very unique and interest I received a free advance e-copy of this book and have chosen to write an honest and unbiased review. I have no personal affiliation with the author. ‘Smoke City’ starts out at a slow pace and seemed to be a little confusing at the beginning as the author backgrounds the story and develops the characters in order to familiarize the reader with each character. Stick with it as once the story gets going the different stories of each character come together and merge into a very unique and interesting plot. A little strange, a little offbeat, a little quirky but a satisfying adventure as they travel to LA, a land of smokes (ghosts). One character is looking for Joan of Arc and he has been reincarnated into several lives. He thinks he is dying again and he discovers he has a unique talent that he is able to develop into a career. They are all a bunch of misfits but in the end each character has redeeming qualities. This book is something different from what I usually read. ‘Smoke City’ is a unique story and well worth the read. I look forward to reading more from Keith Rosson in the future.
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  • Atsuyo
    January 1, 1970
    I remember reading Smoke City's synopsis and thinking that it reminded me a little bit of Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim: The L.A. setting, the supernatural elements, a middle-aged man drinking his sorrows and kicking ass... and getting his ass kicked more often than not. This book ended up being so much more.Marvin Deitz is the latest reincarnation of Joan of Arc's executioner, Geoffroy Thérage, and he looks for redemption any way he can. He is about to lose his store, and his therapist just bro I remember reading Smoke City's synopsis and thinking that it reminded me a little bit of Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim: The L.A. setting, the supernatural elements, a middle-aged man drinking his sorrows and kicking ass... and getting his ass kicked more often than not. This book ended up being so much more.Marvin Deitz is the latest reincarnation of Joan of Arc's executioner, Geoffroy Thérage, and he looks for redemption any way he can. He is about to lose his store, and his therapist just broke the tacit understanding between them that she should not openly call him delusional. But it's O.K., he is soon going to die and be reincarnated again, anyway. That's his curse.That is until he sees a young woman on TV pretending to be the reincarnation of Joan of Arc, sending him on a race against the clock towards Los Angeles. He is picked up by an old van driven by Mike Vale – former world-renowned painter who hasn't touched a brush in years after spiraling into alcohol, bad decisions and depression –, himself on his way to L.A. for his ex-wife's funeral. Meanwhile, ghosts (or “Smokes”) appear all around the world and seem to be stuck in their own time loops. Why are they here, what do they want, do they even want something ? We don't know, we may never know. So, how does Keith Rosson manage to juggle with so many plot-points without it looking like a mess? Beautifully, I'd say. Smoke City is a strange road-trip with alternative POVs, mostly between Marvin and Mike (I really like the use of different pronouns, “I” for Marvin's POV and “He” for Mike's), as we follow and learn more about the characters and where they're coming from.It is also a book about sorrow, grief, redemption, friendship and forgiveness. Most of all, I love how real and raw the characters feel, it's hard to describe but let's just say that many tears were shed while reading this book.Plot-wise, it's definitely the craziest book I've read in 2017. But it's also one of the best, the kind of character-driven book that really makes you feel beyond the craziness. What a drive!Thank you Keith Rosson, Meerkat Press and NetGalley for providing this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kathy Shin
    January 1, 1970
    9.5/10 - Review at PBTVSI'm speechless. I came into this book expecting something interesting and thought-provoking based on the cover and the blurb, but what I got exceeded my already-high expectations in every single way. I cried and laughed and cried. If you read one book this year, make it Smoke City. It is a dizzy melting pot of genres and subgenres--history, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary road trip. It had every potential to go off the rails. Instead, Rosson has nailed every single 9.5/10 - Review at PBTVSI'm speechless. I came into this book expecting something interesting and thought-provoking based on the cover and the blurb, but what I got exceeded my already-high expectations in every single way. I cried and laughed and cried. If you read one book this year, make it Smoke City. It is a dizzy melting pot of genres and subgenres--history, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary road trip. It had every potential to go off the rails. Instead, Rosson has nailed every single element and given us an unforgettable story that brims with humour, hope, and the small and large truths of our lives. We are often told that we only get one life in this world, so make the best of it. Live without regrets. But what if we do get more than one life? And what if our regrets follow from one life to the other? These are questions that haunt Marvin Deitz. Marvin is on the cusp of his 57th birthday. He's the owner of a small record store in Portland, and, apart from his eyepatch, looks like nothing more than a nondescript office clerk. He also happens to be the most recent reincarnated form of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner of Joan of Arc. Yeah, you read that right. He believes he's cursed to be reborn again and again, presumably until the end of time, as penance for the sins of his first life. The Three Parameters of the Curse:1) I will die sometime between infancy and my fifty-sixth birthday. I have never, ever lived to my fifty-seventh birthday, in any of my lives.2) I will always suffer some significant disfigurement or physiognomic alteration sometime between infancy and my first two decades of life. Generally pretty early on. The disfigurement will be something that, to some degree, alters and dictates the pathway of my existence. Loss of limb, birth defect, etc. Losing an eye, as I did in this life, is actually somewhat mundane.3) When I die, I will without fail die a violent death. No going peacefully in my sleep for this guy.Marvin retains all memories of his previous lives, all of which are fraught with pain and horror. His past actions haunt him--the prisoners he tortured and the innocent lives he ended. And the heaviest burden of them all: the burning of Joan. Life has become a blur of greys and all he wants is to wait for the next violent death to claim him.Michael Vale was once a young rising rockstar of a painter. The next big thing in the art world. But he burned too bright, too fast, and got too arrogant. One mistake led to another and another, and before he knew it, his career and personal life were taking a nose-dive. He's neck deep in assault charges, bottles of alcohol, and no longer has the will to paint. Now he works as a cashier at a taco joint, dealing out hatred to himself and to others.As these two men meet and journey their way to Los Angeles, we alternate between their viewpoints, each chapter short and digestible. We also get flashbacks to Vale's early life and Marvin's many lives, including that of Thérage. The latter provides a fascinating and bleak glimpse into the life of an executioner in the Middle Ages. Short, but told with so much pain, they make up some of the best parts of the story. Vale and Marvin are a brilliant pair of contrasts and similarities. One mild-mannered and empathetic, the other perpetually brimming with energy and anger. Both wrapped up in regrets and bitterness. Both lost and fractured--shackled by the weight of their past and the off-handed cruelty of life. You would think that in a story featuring the reincarnation of Joan of Arc's executioner, said reincarnation would be the main draw. And it was, at first. But there was something about Michael Vale and his self-destructive ways that I found equally fascinating. Vale is an unrepentant alcoholic, he's quick to anger, and would sooner pull a punch than talk his way out of a confrontation. Seemingly plucked straight out of a grimdark novel, he's someone you would give a wide berth at parties. Yet his story is one that invites sympathy and sorrow. Because it's so very human. It's mired in self-hatred and a lost love of life that so many of us can relate to. Marvin is the more likeable of the two, and his story is, if anything, even sadder--a string of , of hope dared and crushed. He is a complicated mesh of history and fiction that you won't be able to take your mind off of. Their quest to find purpose and redemption is one that I was rooting for super hard.The side characters that orbit these two are all very engaging and I chalk that up to the author's touch for colloquial dialogues. They flow perfectly and they shift effortlessly from funny to moving. Gems like this, for example: "So what is it that's going to keep you afloat in Kodiak chew and ironic shirts when you're in Los Angeles? Huh, my new friend Casper?" Casper peered down at his chest. "What do you mean, ironic shirts?" Vale's eyebrows arched up. "I mean your shirt, man. The bald eagle holding the beer? Driving the truck? It's ridiculous." "How is it ironic?""You mean it's not ironic?"Casper shrugged. "I don't know. I like trucks. I like beer. Eagles are cool. I like it." The setting plays as equally an important role as the characters. I think the best road trip books are the ones that take mundane places--a parking lot, a motel, a stretch of farmland--and infuse them with a sense of both the familiar and the strange. Rosson does just that. He has a knack for distilling the heart of a location, a person, a scene, and transcribing them into words. His descriptions of the cityscape and its people are apt and so, so beautiful. Speaking of strange, the author apparently thought that having the reincarnation of a 14th century executioner for a protagonist wasn't weird enough, so he decided to add ghosts into the mix. In this version of America, smoke spirits (ghosts that resemble smoke, basically) have begun to appear in California and New Mexico. No one quite knows what they are, though plenty of theories are thrown around--everything from Russian scams to signs of the apocalypse. For most of the book, these ghosts exist in the background. It's not until near the end that they merge with the main plot, and the result is well worth the wait.Smoke City is a story of how much power we give to our pasts. Of how the choices we make too often dictate how we see ourselves for years down the line, sometimes the rest of our lives. How we punish ourselves for our actions, tell ourselves we don't get to have happiness, that it's too late to fix things. How we get trapped in an endless cycle of self- recrimination. And when life beats us down, we tell ourselves we deserve it. But we are more than the summation of our mistakes. The past can be wielded by its hilt, not the blade.And it's never too late.
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  • Alison C
    January 1, 1970
    Mike Vale was once the hottest young artist in an over-heated artistic world; now he’s a raging, self-destructive alcoholic who has pushed away everyone and everything that he ever loved. When he learns of his ex-wife’s death, he resolves to drive from Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles for her funeral. He picks up a passenger, Marvin Deitz, who has troubles of his own: aside from losing his record store, he’s plagued by memories of his life as Geoffroy Therage, the executioner who burned Joan of Mike Vale was once the hottest young artist in an over-heated artistic world; now he’s a raging, self-destructive alcoholic who has pushed away everyone and everything that he ever loved. When he learns of his ex-wife’s death, he resolves to drive from Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles for her funeral. He picks up a passenger, Marvin Deitz, who has troubles of his own: aside from losing his record store, he’s plagued by memories of his life as Geoffroy Therage, the executioner who burned Joan of Arc to death. Marvin believes he’s found Joan’s reincarnated spirit, in a woman who happens to be in LA, and he sees Mike’s offer of a ride as a portent. So these two strangely damaged men go on a road trip, one that also involves the increasing presence of “smokes,” ghosts of ordinary people doing ordinary things in extraordinary times….I was given an ARC of this novel, to be released in January 2018, by Meerkat Press, and I’m very glad they chose to send it to me. Quite profane for much of the time, our two anti-heroes are not the most likable of characters, but they’re compelling and, in the end, beautiful in their own ways. I found "Smoke City" to be a highly original and deeply human novel of barely controlled chaos and the surprising power of human connection and love. Look for it when it arrives in January of 2018!
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  • Linda Hepworth
    January 1, 1970
    Marvin Deitz is struggling: his landlord is trying to evict him from his record shop; his therapist is concerned about his sanity and his heart is being broken by the suffering he sees on the children’s oncology ward where he volunteers for four hours a week. If all of that wasn’t enough he knows that he won’t live beyond his imminent fifty seventh birthday. He knows this for a certainty because he is the reincarnation of the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431 and, for over si Marvin Deitz is struggling: his landlord is trying to evict him from his record shop; his therapist is concerned about his sanity and his heart is being broken by the suffering he sees on the children’s oncology ward where he volunteers for four hours a week. If all of that wasn’t enough he knows that he won’t live beyond his imminent fifty seventh birthday. He knows this for a certainty because he is the reincarnation of the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431 and, for over six hundred years, he has lived countless other lives, many of which were very short but none has ever lasted beyond fifty seven, the age he was when he lit the fire. Then a chance viewing of a woman on a Los Angeles chat show, claiming to be a reincarnation of Joan, fills him with hope that he will finally have an opportunity to make reparation, to rid himself of the guilt he has lived with for more than six hundred years. He just has to go and track her down so he immediately sets off to hitch a lift to Los Angeles. Within minutes of sticking his thumb up he is picked up by Mike Vale, a previously successful but now alcoholic, non-productive artist who is fighting his own demons and is on his way to the city for his ex-wife’s funeral. Along the way they give a lift to Casper, a young man who is also desperate to get to the city because he wants to make a show about the “smokes”, ghostly apparitions which have been appearing throughout Southern California and New Mexico. Who are they? Why have they suddenly started to appear? What are they looking for? Keith Rosson has created three flawed but memorable characters in this compelling novel – even his more minor characters felt fully-formed and convincing. The story switches from the present day to past events, from first to third person; it combines history with magical realism and the paranormal; it is full humour often deliciously dark, reflections on the meaning of life, of the search for forgiveness and redemption, of political satire – and much, much more. There are so many genre-defying elements to the story that when I first started reading I wondered how it could possibly be translated into a convincing whole but, in a quite brilliantly inventive way, the author has managed to do just that. From the powerful opening introduction to the final sentence I felt totally engaged, with both the storyline and with the characters, so much so that I felt a real sense of loss when I had to leave them behind as I turned the final page. The author’s writing is so evocative that, not only did I feel a strong sense that I was accompanying these characters on their journey, but I also felt that I could see the countryside they were travelling through and felt caught up in their experiences of the ethereal and compelling “smokes”. There was never a moment when I didn’t believe in the developing story and I think this is a reflection of the author’s skill in creating such multi-layered characters who seem to leap off the page to make themselves known. I loved the way in which he explored their developing friendship as they travelled towards their respective “destinations”, and how he made even their most deviant behaviour understandable and worthy of empathy. I enjoyed the way in which he creatively wove historical events into the story, his use of allegory and I appreciated the hint of the Jungian concept of a collective unconscious, of patterns repeating themselves down the generations and an ongoing search for resolution. The passages where he described methods of torture in 14th century Europe made for very disturbing reading, not only because they captured the degrading nature of man’s inhumanity to man in such a powerfully visceral way, but because they served as a reminder that men are still capable of similar outrages. Keith Rosson tackles so many themes in this book that it feels impossible to do justice to all of them but some of the major ones focus on the nature of guilt, shame, despair, forgiveness, absolution, redemption, addiction, the search for salvation, our inter-dependence as human beings and a need to make the most of the life we lead. At times, there is an almost Kafkaesque nature to the writing which makes the story-telling not only convincing in our increasingly complex world but, for this reader, even more compelling. There is so much in the story that is thought-provoking, full of ironical observations and which challenges corruption and complacency. Yet, ultimately, this felt like a story about hope, about love and about the essential decency of people. This was a hugely satisfying, cohesive and enjoyable personal read and it would make an ideal choice for reading groups, not only because of the varied themes, but also because the literary quality of Keith Rosson’s writing is truly remarkable and, at times, quite breath-takingly beautiful. This is his second published novel (although he has written lots of short stories) and I find myself hoping that his third won’t be too long in coming! A final point, but one which added to my enjoyment because it somehow set the scene for the “quirky” nature of this story, I must mention the author’s own design for the book jacket – it feels perfect! I cannot praise this book highly enough but I hope that what I have written will convince you to buy yourself a copy and discover for yourself what a remarkable writer Keith Rosson is and what a unique, highly imaginative voice he has as a story-teller.I received my copy of this book from Library Thing, in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Simon
    January 1, 1970
    Keith Rosson's debut novel "The Mercy of the Tide" was a creepy and heartbreaking mystical thriller about life in a small, run-down town. So this was definitely not what I expected from the sequel. I mean, to go from a dramatic horror to an insane magical realism on-the-road book is quite a departure. Which makes Rosson's absolute triumph in this all the more amazing.The premise here is so wild that it's kind of hard to believe that it actually works. Ghosts of people from the past turning up al Keith Rosson's debut novel "The Mercy of the Tide" was a creepy and heartbreaking mystical thriller about life in a small, run-down town. So this was definitely not what I expected from the sequel. I mean, to go from a dramatic horror to an insane magical realism on-the-road book is quite a departure. Which makes Rosson's absolute triumph in this all the more amazing.The premise here is so wild that it's kind of hard to believe that it actually works. Ghosts of people from the past turning up all over the USA, Joan of Arc's executioner getting reborn over and over and dying in horrific ways, a has-been painter, there are as many plot points at the core of this book that it's tough to imagine how Rosson got the balls to put them together. Let alone had the gall to make this sing.What makes this all run smoothly is that the novel never stops to do elaborate explanations or question the events that fall onto the character's heads. The heroes never doubt each other and manage to mesh even despite being radically different people, the journey is rocky and entertaining with some non-predictable turns, though it never stoops to the tired cliche of crazy twists. You can easily guess the nature of the "smokes", you can guess how the road will end for the Executioner, and it is not tough to see just how easily this could go wrong if the writing was less restricted.Rosson knows how hard to push his protagonists, how much of an asshole to make out of Mike Vale . And he pinpoints the exact amount of drama, of, forgive me, shmaltz that is needed to make this not just a story about a martyr, a dumbass, and an idiot. Putting a heart inside this somewhat cynical tale makes it that much more readable and gives it a chance to stay grounded.There are flashbacks scattered throughout, breaking the downbeat antics to talk about the old France, the life of Marvin as a jazz-loving junkie etc. And despite the fact that they appear frequently and stop the main plot, they still manage to be engaging and pull you in.I've been putting off writing this because I really don't know how to properly articulate why this works because I just really have no idea why it does. It just does, it's one of those books. And it's easy to enjoy, and it's even easier to start anticipating whatever the hell Rosson plans to do next. Hopefully, it's no less insane.
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  • Sara Codair
    January 1, 1970
    I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. And I’ll admit, after the first couple chapters, I didn’t think I’d be giving it five stars, but I read on, and was won over the by the characters, subtle magic and tightly woven plots. The end to this book left me feeling pretty good -- in fact, this one was one the rare occasions where the book ended almost exactly how I hoped it would. Something that started our grimy and depressing had a surprisingly happ I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. And I’ll admit, after the first couple chapters, I didn’t think I’d be giving it five stars, but I read on, and was won over the by the characters, subtle magic and tightly woven plots. The end to this book left me feeling pretty good -- in fact, this one was one the rare occasions where the book ended almost exactly how I hoped it would. Something that started our grimy and depressing had a surprisingly happy ending. But enough about the ending. It took me a little while to engage with this. The protagonists were two middle aged men who were more or less a wreck, way more of a wreck than I am now, but as I read and thought about how they were the kind of wreck I could be if I wasn’t careful, I found common ground with the characters. Meanwhile, the gritty, grimy realism was being seasoned with the paranormal. I was intrigued by the smokes and specters and the snippets of Marvin’s past lives. There were lots of threads in this novel, but they were also tightly knit together. It’s a hard novel to describe ( if you want a better idea of the premise, read the back cover copy that comes with book). However, if I had to compare it to other books, I’d say it’s a strange blend of Breakfast of Champions, Cloud Atlas and American Gods. It may have a slow build, but Smoke City is worth it in the end.
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  • Tracey
    January 1, 1970
    *This ARC was received in exchange for an honest review*This is the story of Marvin Deitz, who it seems maybe the re-incarnation of Geoffrey Therage, the executioner who lit the flame on Joan of Arc's pyre.He is so guilt ridden that he goes in search of the woman claiming to be Joan of Arc on a Los Angeles talk show.On his journey to LA he is picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale who is heading to his ex-wifes funeral. Joining them both on this journey is Casper (no not the friendly ghost) but a wa *This ARC was received in exchange for an honest review*This is the story of Marvin Deitz, who it seems maybe the re-incarnation of Geoffrey Therage, the executioner who lit the flame on Joan of Arc's pyre.He is so guilt ridden that he goes in search of the woman claiming to be Joan of Arc on a Los Angeles talk show.On his journey to LA he is picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale who is heading to his ex-wifes funeral. Joining them both on this journey is Casper (no not the friendly ghost) but a wannabe ghost hunter.But on their travels to LA they enter "Smoke City" known for this as the ghosts, apparitions have taken over the freeways of Hollywood.This was a good story with how the guilt and alcoholism was dealt with and I found the ghostly road trip very amusing.Lets see what comes next by Keith Rosson.
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  • Mrs.
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.Smoke City was completely different from every book I have ever read!!! It was definitely gripping and difficult to relinquish—even for short periods of time. Once I became involved in the plot of Martin, in particular, I NEEDED to know the outcome of his destiny. Until all of the main characters had been introduced, it was a bit confusing at first, but the plot was so interesting that it was certainly worth the time and effort. This novel I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.Smoke City was completely different from every book I have ever read!!! It was definitely gripping and difficult to relinquish—even for short periods of time. Once I became involved in the plot of Martin, in particular, I NEEDED to know the outcome of his destiny. Until all of the main characters had been introduced, it was a bit confusing at first, but the plot was so interesting that it was certainly worth the time and effort. This novel is a difficult one to categorize, however, because it blends a few different genres together and made its own new format. I was skeptical at first that this might be awkward, so I was pleasantly surprised that it totally worked! (I am trying not to spoil anythjng here, so you should just read it yourself to see what I mean!) Cool book!
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    This book brought out so many feelings in me. As pretty much anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not a religious person. Despite the emphasis on spiritual principles of sin, redemption, atonement, and sacrifice, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Rosson crafted an incredible case of relatable, human characters that were so real that, I found myself forgetting that this was fiction. A truly inimitable blend of fantasy and mundane that I found truly enjoyable, Smoke City is a book that I would re This book brought out so many feelings in me. As pretty much anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not a religious person. Despite the emphasis on spiritual principles of sin, redemption, atonement, and sacrifice, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Rosson crafted an incredible case of relatable, human characters that were so real that, I found myself forgetting that this was fiction. A truly inimitable blend of fantasy and mundane that I found truly enjoyable, Smoke City is a book that I would recommend to absolutely anyone. A bit slow at the beginning in terms of plot, Rosson's gorgeous prose will keep you hooked until the plot catches back up to a climactic and overall humbling and cozy ending.
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  • Blythe
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of those books you pick up simply because the description is so bizarre you have to see how this is going to come together. Those books are usually train wrecks, but this one...this one is remarkable.“Smoke City” isn't a book that pulls punches. Its characters start at low points, and you follow them on the way to the bottom. Rosson is painfully honest about what that journey can look like, and I found I had to take a couple of breaks from this along the way. It's not going to be a b This is one of those books you pick up simply because the description is so bizarre you have to see how this is going to come together. Those books are usually train wrecks, but this one...this one is remarkable.“Smoke City” isn't a book that pulls punches. Its characters start at low points, and you follow them on the way to the bottom. Rosson is painfully honest about what that journey can look like, and I found I had to take a couple of breaks from this along the way. It's not going to be a book for everyone, but I found it to be incredibly imaginative and vivid (some of the description is just breathtaking), and ultimately, touching without being trite or preachy. It's hard to go into detail without ruining some of the surprises, so I'll settle for saying: if the description has piqued your interest, give the first couple of chapters a try. If you like what you read, you're in for quite a trip.Disclaimer: I received a free advance copy from LibraryThing. (Hopefully, the typos have been caught in the transition from advance to final!) An honest review was requested in exchange, but not required.
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  • Dianah
    January 1, 1970
    If someone told you to braid together three disparate story lines (let's say, the reincarnated soul of Joan of Arc's executioner, a washed-up alcoholic artist, and a sudden rash of ghost appearances), could you do it? Could you do it without sounding like an idiot? Keith Rosson can -- magnificently.Rosson's characters are so layered and so well defined, they absolutely hum with realism, even when they're talking to ghosts, or remembering the lives they've lived since 1375.Joan of Arc's execution If someone told you to braid together three disparate story lines (let's say, the reincarnated soul of Joan of Arc's executioner, a washed-up alcoholic artist, and a sudden rash of ghost appearances), could you do it? Could you do it without sounding like an idiot? Keith Rosson can -- magnificently.Rosson's characters are so layered and so well defined, they absolutely hum with realism, even when they're talking to ghosts, or remembering the lives they've lived since 1375.Joan of Arc's executioner, Geoffroy/Marvin, has been caught in a curse since the day he lit the fire under Joan and saw her soul escape in the form of a dove. He's reborn again and again, with full memory of his previous lives, and knowing that he'll die before his 57th birthday. Mike Vale lit the art world on fire at the tender age of 19, producing work that was both critically acclaimed, and sold for millions. Since then he's spent two decades drunk and penniless. Everywhere, seemingly, ghosts are appearing. They suddenly manifest: everyone sees them, they stay for a few minutes, and then disappear. Who are they? Why are they here? What does it mean?Rosson tackles the big life questions in this book; picking apart themes of purpose, redemption, suffering, forgiveness, addiction, passion, talent, guilt, the unknowable nature of life and death, the ways in which we help each other and the ways in which we hinder, the joy of living and the anticipation of death, and the absolute necessity of an examined life. Rosson's talent is staggering, his craft is meticulous, and his story is one of the quirkiest, but most heartfelt I have ever read. He will clench your heart, and by it drag you through his landscape of both horror and bliss. You'll be so utterly grateful for it.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Received an ARC via NetGalley. Much like Keith Rosson’s previous novel, The Mercy of the Tide, I don’t know how to rate or categorize this. His novels hover around 3.5-stars for me, too well-written to be mediocre, but kind of hard to get into and a little oddball once you do. I think it’s the oddball quality that I enjoy about his stories. How does something so out there feel so grounded in reality at the same time? I’m also a sucker for stories about people forming unlikely friendships and fin Received an ARC via NetGalley. Much like Keith Rosson’s previous novel, The Mercy of the Tide, I don’t know how to rate or categorize this. His novels hover around 3.5-stars for me, too well-written to be mediocre, but kind of hard to get into and a little oddball once you do. I think it’s the oddball quality that I enjoy about his stories. How does something so out there feel so grounded in reality at the same time? I’m also a sucker for stories about people forming unlikely friendships and finding redemption. Super odd but alright in the end.
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  • Christa
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely a great read!Author Keith Rosson created three richly diverse characters in the form of Mike, Marvin and Casper whose only common denominator seemingly is being male. Their individual storylines even appear to belong to different genres so much so that you can't help but wonder how in the world is Rosson going to tie them together into one cohesive plot. The answer is, masterfully! In Smoke City Rosson has set the perfect pace to keep the reader engaged in a unique and intriguing plot Absolutely a great read!Author Keith Rosson created three richly diverse characters in the form of Mike, Marvin and Casper whose only common denominator seemingly is being male. Their individual storylines even appear to belong to different genres so much so that you can't help but wonder how in the world is Rosson going to tie them together into one cohesive plot. The answer is, masterfully! In Smoke City Rosson has set the perfect pace to keep the reader engaged in a unique and intriguing plot with characters that are easy to feel invested in their personal outcomes. I highly recommend Smoke City to readers of any type of fiction who ultimately enjoy,a great book versus staying in a particular genre.
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  • Sabetha
    January 1, 1970
    You read that blurb, and look at that cover, and still you'll have no idea that journey you're about to embark on. Smoke City will make you book drunk. Having finished it, after not being able to put it down, I am still basking in the book drunk feeling. The message that Smoke City delivers is profound, and loud & clear by the end of the novel. If you are questioning whether or not to read this book, just do it. It's worth the read.
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