Mark Haskell Smith: Moist

Smith’s racy, fast-moving crime novel is a little difficult to pigeonhole. The characters take their internal lives and external situations too seriously for broad comedy — even a scene, for instance, in which a straight character accidentally pulls up a gay porn web site just as a police detective enters to question him is more about emotional tension than yuks. But the coincidence-heavy situations Smith knits his oddball clump of characters — a pathology lab worker, a b-list TV cook, a sex therapist, a detective, and assorted hoods — into are a little too outré for serious noir (the MacGuffin here is a missing arm with a prominent erotic tattoo). And there’s a mild pomo sheen over everything — Smith is clearly aware of crime genre conventions; he selectively chooses to honor some and flout others. He also elides a few significant scenes, not from the common motive of setting up surprises for the reader, but because the reader can easily fill in their details, rendering them less interesting to read (and to write, probably).

I liked it enough to read more from Smith.

Since I wondered: Moist, published in 2002, uses a plot element that the The Sopranos first explored in 2000 (and then largely dropped until Season 6). Given what I know about the incubation period of novels and screenplays, it seems unlikely that one influenced the other.

needs more demons? I’ll go with “no.”

Published by therealsummervillain

likes: equality, making things easier to use, biking, jangle, distortion, monogamy dislikes: bigotry, policies that jeopardize people, lack of transparency

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