New Release! Smoke City, A Novel by Keith Rosson - Guest post: What kind of magical realism can we expect in my upcoming novel?. - Giveaway

Smoke City
Keith Rosson
Published by: Meerkat Press
Publication date: January 23rd 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.

What kind of magical realism can we expect in my upcoming novel, you say? 

Why, so glad you asked!

In my upcoming novel, Smoke City, one of the main characters is a man named Marvin Deitz. Marvin, among other things, is the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. Marvin’s lived numerous violent, heartwrenching lives in the interim since his death as Geoffroy. This ceaseless reincarnation is taken at face value to be the truth (at least to Marvin, who’s grown weary of these stutter-start lives, if not necessarily the reader.)

There’s Part One of the magical realism here.

Then there’s also the appearance of “smokes”, ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout vast swaths of the Southern US and Northern Mexico California. These smokes seem to come from all eras of history, all walks of life. They appear, half-transparent and seemingly lost. They wander around. They don’t (or can’t) interact with the living. And then, after a moment, they vanish.

Magical realism, Part Deux.

I’m fascinated by elements like this – I consider myself a literary author for the most part, but I also grew up on a constant diet of Stephen King and Marvel comics as a kid. So all of my work is infused with this sort thing, this kind of quiet, low-grade magic or wonderment of oddity. It’s not entirely world-altering – in the sense that it’s not serious fantasy or sci-fi - but it’s enough to throw a kink in the order of the world.

Yet Smoke City is still, to me, a novel written about people. It’s about how people navigate heartache and regret and guilt, and the things that we do in an attempt to forgive ourselves. But it also plays around with genre – historical fiction, magical realism – because I seem wholly incapable of writing something without putting a ghost or robot or monster in it. For better or worse, it’s just the type of writer I am.


About the Author

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

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