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I am so excited that Smoke City is available now and that I get to share the news! If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Keith Rosson, be sure to check out all the details below. This blitz also includes a GIVEAWAY for a $25 Amazon Gift Card! So, if you’d like a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
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Smoke City by Keith Rosson
Published By: Meerkat Press
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism
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.
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Excerpt from Smoke City:
He drove without purpose, his anger wavering like smoke, and everywhere he looked saw neon signs that clamored OPEN in red, blue, white, yellow. Could not unsee them. Bars and taverns and liquor stores seemingly on every avenue he passed, places that suddenly appeared to make up the bulk of the city.
Everywhere he looked he saw placards and posters in windows, fluttering above awnings: airbrushed, hyper-detailed photos of chilled bottles of beer, pint glasses kissed with frost, bottles of liquor backlit with golden light, as if imbued with holiness. Women reclining on beaches wearing bikinis and sea-foam, bottles of beer suggestively placed between breasts. He drove, turned, drove, saw tavern windows dark as eyes.
He passed a shuttered movie theater, its marquee proclaiming SMOKE CITY—ALL YE ROUND HERE ARE DEAD. WE PRAY FOR THEE!
He reached a stretch of roadway where left turns were not permitted and so he circled the same five block stretch a half dozen times, biting the inside of his mouth until he finally found street parking between a cell phone store and a take-home pizza place, both with their entrances shuttered.
He took a wad of bills from his shoebox, shoved the box under his seat and walked into a bar he’d seen around the corner. Thinking the entire time that he should go back to the parking lot, to the cemetery, go find them. Go apologize. The bar seemed to have no name, but above the door, a martini glass tilted left and then right—more neon—and Vale stepped inside.
It was dark and cool and the foot of the bar was lit in runners of lights. On a large television he saw a clown punch a horse in the face and then jump over a fence. The bartender sat below the television, reading a book. A scattering of bar vultures sat on their stools, their shoulders hunched toward their ears as if they expected blows to start raining down at any moment. Wood rot, beer, decades of cigarette smoke embedded into the ceiling. No one spoke and the only sound was the wet rattle of the air conditioner.
The bartender stepped over and raised his eyebrows. He was a thin man in a button-up shirt, pale as something pulled from beneath rotted wood. Mustache as narrow as a pencil lead.
“Whiskey and a beer back,” Vale said.
“It doesn’t matter. Sure.”
The drinks arrived and the whiskey went down burning and Vale exhaled like a movie monster. The other men eyed him sourly. The beer helped settle things a little.
He raised his bandaged hand and ordered another round and drank the whiskey. It sloshed around hot and searing in his guts. Minutes later, and the problem was his hands were still shaking and yet he seemed suddenly drunk, stunningly drunk, more drunk than he had possibly been in years. His legs kept wanting to slide out from under him, spill him out on the floor. What was happening to him? What was this?
An old man a few stools away lifted his craggy head as if on some swivel and gazed at Vale, a look as if he knew exactly what was happening. He had a yellowed bandage on the side of his neck and Vale, weak-kneed, touched the scab on his own forehead. The man belched then, a sound so wet and horrific and possibly internally damaging that Vale felt his gorge rise. Vale opened his mouth and the whiskey and beers came back up on top of the bar, a burning, foamy mess that he tried to cover through his cupped hands. Tears poured from his eyes.
An explosion of cries from the vultures, hands slapping the bar top in merriment, caws and laughter and mockery directed at the bartender to mop it up, Jonesy, mop it up, here’s a fella can’t handle his drink anymore.
Vale held up his hand, gestured uselessly. I’m sorry.
“Get your ass out of here,” the bartender snarled, and Vale left on shaking legs.
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Keith Rosson is the author of the novels The Mercy of the Tide (2017, Meerkat Press) and Smoke City (2018, Meerkat Press). His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at keithrosson.com.
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