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Three Delays: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, May 18, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (May 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061859451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061859458
  • ASIN: B005GNM3KG
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,666,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Poet and novelist Smith, a writer of narcotic, erotic, and cosmic intensity, has been showered with major awards and grants. In his sixth novel, his startling, rhapsodic descriptions are mind-blowing, as are his feral, weirdly smart, self-destructive characters, their lashing dialogue, and their insane, heartbreaking predicaments. This isn’t Smith’s first tale of toxic and nihilistic obsession, but it is his most ravishing, painfully funny, and wildly mythic. Floridians Billy and Alice have been making each other crazy since childhood. Billy was a boy preacher, and his gift for exalted, bewitching exhortation has made him a rogue journalist drawn to stories bizarre and disturbing, including that of his epic, terrible love for Alice. Both are mad phoenixes rising repeatedly from conflagrations of their own making. Alice tries to escape by marrying others; Billy relies on drugs, which lead him to deliriously risky escapades, jail, and death’s threshold in Venice and Istanbul, but nothing keeps them apart. Each cursed lover is a hurricane made flesh, their emotions amplified by coastal Florida’s swampy fecundity and steamy beauty, the secretive ocean, and the pitiless sky’s sudden conjuring of massive clouds. This is infernal romance––hallucinatory, wanton, noirish, terrifying, and magnificently tragic. --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

Charlie Smith, the author of seven novels and seven books of poetry, has won numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including the Aga Khan Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, Harper's, the New Republic, the New York Times, The Nation, and many other magazine and journals. He taught at Princeton University and was a Coal Royalty Chair holder at the University of Alabama. Three of his novels have been named New York Times Notable Books. His last novel, Three Delays, was a New York Times Editor's Choice. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

I just think they're losers.
Mark
It is funny (and I don't just mean the snappy dialogue Smith is known for) and full of heart!
J. Kleinschmidt
I am waiting for more......thank you for the excellent, inspiring work.
A Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Kleinschmidt on June 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Three Delays is Smith's sixth novel and as far as I'm concerned his best. I've read his previous novels and loved Shine Hawk, Lives of the Dead, and Cheap Ticket to Heaven--all works of brazen energy and soaring prose, filled with enough images of such originality and depth as to make other writers seem stingy with their imagination.

Three Delays has all that and more. It is funny (and I don't just mean the snappy dialogue Smith is known for) and full of heart! The narrator, Billy Brent, has a take on life that made me laugh out loud one moment and moved me to tears the next. Billy is comically (and tragically) misguided in his relentless pursuit of his love--Alice, and he is in need of regular infusions of various substances to make it through the day, but he is also immensely likeable. He's a tender soul, a sweet-talker, a conniver, a frightened boy, an escape artist reaching the end of his line.

When I reached the final pages of Three Delays, I felt saddened that soon I'd no longer be immersed in the world of Billy and Alice. I hope I won't have to wait another decade(plus) to read a new novel by this great American writer.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on June 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Buy this book if you're interested in a real-live master of American writing at work. I've read all of Charlie Smith's poetry--the books are all on the shelf and I reread them all the time--but this is his first novel for me. It's so well-written I'm stunned. It's lyrical and gorgeous, a collage of scene and energy and description. Charlie Smith can take you from small, intense, perfect detail to large, philosophical questions in the space of a few sentences. And he does this over and over. His ability to inject specific, appropriate vocabularly (nouns, adj., verbs, etc. the usual suspects) in the tiniest of paragraphs makes each scene rich and interesting. I love writing that makes me look up words. This is a linguistic genius at work. What I think as I'm reading this book is: Charlie Smith is a brilliant man who can also feel deeply, and he then puts that all into the hard work of his paragraphs. Charlie: please go back to your study and keep writing! I am waiting for more......thank you for the excellent, inspiring work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William B. Rodgers on March 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've read most of Charlie Smith's novels and as far as i'm concerned he has only hit one home run and that was a novella called Crystal River.

Three Delays is another strike out, not even close to a base hit.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Guckenberger on June 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
Well, this is his best. Alice is coming across as a human being, and this is good. I sometimes feel Smith's woman, his eternal flame, is just an alter-ego, someone he's projected as his female side. Love yourself, love a woman like you. But in THREE DELAYS, Alice becomes a stop, as in music. Smith sings, gorgeously, and Alice says, stop. She's contrapuntal, as the female soul should be. Bravo, Charlie.
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By Lyric Poet on January 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
No need for a long review. I second all the enthusiastic reviews above. I too came to the novel through his poetry. If you like the novel, you'll love the poems.
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