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Escape from Baghdad!

I love the novel Escape from Baghdad by Saad Z. Hossain so much that I talked to him when he came to visit Los Angeles from Dhaka.   Enjoy it at the Los Angeles Review of Books. 

Saad & Me.
Saad & Me.
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Ping pong with Geoff Dyer

It all gets explained at the Lit Hub.  

Balls
Balls
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Crazy Media Everywhere

Or at least that’s how it seems.   You can listen to me talk about the business of being naked on Marketplace.   Read a love letter to my research assistant at Salon.   Dig review from the Oregonian and Huffington Post  (who also named it one of “15 Beach Reads to Bask in this Summer“) and the Sydney Daily Telegraph said ““Hilarious insight into what makes people get together and strip off . . . William Burroughs’ 1959 Naked Lunch may win when it comes to sex and drugs but At Lunch pulls its pants down when it comes to barefaced laughter.”

There’s an excellent profile of me at the LA Weekly and at the BBC News Magazine or you can watch me on Australian television.   And my ass appears in Italy in the Corriere della Sera.

Media is exhausting.
Media is exhausting.
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Readers

I love my readers.  Here’s some photos they’ve been sending in from around the world.  And if you send me a photo, I’ll put it up here!

Edinburgh.
Edinburgh.
Oakland.
Oakland.
Atlantic Books marketing meeting.
Atlantic Books marketing meeting.
Lunch in the UK
Lunch in the UK
CKqrsHwWEAAYP0x
Alfresco picnic in England
MIami
MIami
10986568_10153098872246185_753193575583786091_n
Boston
Holland.
Holland
Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn, NY
Winston-Salem, NC
Winston-Salem, NC
Brazos Books, Houston Texas
Brazos Books, Houston Texas
Barcelona
Barcelona
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Boom

After more than two years traveling through eight countries and skinny dipping in the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean seas; after crossing the San Gorgonios, Pyrenees, and Alps and using nine cans of spray-on sunblock and numerous tubes of sunscreen, it’s finally here. Naked at Lunch is starting to appear in bookstores. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Naked at Lunch at Skylight Books in Los Angeles.
Naked at Lunch at Skylight Books in Los Angeles.
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Salty, the movie

Simon West gets salty.
Simon West gets salty.

Progress is being made on turning Salty into a feature film. Check out this article in the Guardian and keep your fingers crossed!

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The Muse

Every writer needs a muse!

 

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First Review for Naked at Lunch!

The nice people at Publishers Weekly gave Naked at Lunch a starred review.  That’s pretty sweet.

 

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Pre-Order Mania!!!

Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World, a book that J. Maarten Troost called “A strangely compelling, riotously funny traipse through the world of nudism.” is available for pre-orders from your local independent bookstore or at Barnes & Noble.  I don’t think I’ll be doing any bookstore events outside of Los Angeles, so if you’re interested… order early and often!

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Secret Summit in Puerto Rico

Recently I went to a “Literary Summit” hosted by the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dorado Beach Puerto Rico.  My hotel room at the Literary Summit.

I was invited, along with writers like Patrick deWitt, Jami Attenberg, Jonathan Evison, Neal Shusterman, Phil Caputo, Reza Azlan, and a few others to talk with publishing professionals about various book-related subjects of interest.  There were only 24 of us at the summit and the Ritz-Carlton made sure that there was always a mojito in our hands and some kind of delicious food nearby.

Patrick deWitt, Jonathan Evison, and Tyson CornellWe talked about Amazon vs Hachette, advances in enhancing  ebooks so that they sing and dance and perhaps perform sexual favors, the rise of hotshot young editors who actually edit like some kind of hipster Max Perkins and Gordon Lish (this we all agreed was a good thing) and other random topics of publishing, fan fiction, YA superstardom, etc. No one is really sure why the hotel so generously paid all our expenses, but then no one was complaining about it either.   I’m just marking it down as one of those happy mysteries that sometimes befall people.  And, seriously, if you ever win the lottery, go stay at this hotel for a few days.

I had never been to Puerto Rico, so I took a couple extra days and explored San Juan.  I ate massive amounts of mofongo (which long time fans will know I’m a long time fan of) and drank rum-based cocktails.

IMG_1473Puerto Rico: I recommend it.

IMG_1471
The end of the mofongo

In Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World news… we have sold publication rights in Australia and the United Kingdom.  And we’re still waiting on a cover to be designed that everyone likes.   Stay tuned!Dorado BeachOld San Juan

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Long-overdue update — now with blurbs!

I’m living in “the South.”  Doing a visiting professor gig at the University of North Carolina School of Arts in Winston-Salem. That could explain why I haven’t posted in a while; busy finding a place to live, buying a bicycle, getting my classes up and running.  Or it could be the bourbon.  I even had some moonshine brewed by a “neighbor” of a guy who owns an apple orchard up in the Blue Ridge mountains.

 

Cherry-flavored moonshine in a Mason jar
Cherry-flavored moonshine in a Mason jar

The moonshine was surprisingly smooth and tasty.  And it seemed to kill any insect that landed on the jar.  Evidence, apparently, of high-octane home brew.

I’ve also been waiting until we had a pub date — June 2015 — and a cover for Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing Optional World to dazzle you with.  But because of the nature of the jacket… well… you’re just going to have to wait.   But I do have a couple blurbs I can share.

“Hilarious, absorbing  and  –  to adapt Blake’s  comment on Milton  – a sustained  celebration  of  the invention of clothing.” — Geoff Dyer

Naked at Lunch is a total joy. Mark Haskell Smith is a fine reporter, a trenchant cultural observer and a spectacular writer. He’s the best kind of participatory journalist; one who stands proudly with his subjects even as he stands apart from them. The naked cruise chapter is a tour de force and a worthy addition to the canon of great cruise writing. Even if you’ve never been nude in your life and have no plans to be in the future, this book will thrill you with its hilarious and outrageous stories and move you with its essential humanity.”  — Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

“A strangely compelling, riotously funny traipse through the world of nudism. Mark Haskell Smith is a worthy heir to the George Plimpton school of journalism. He’s not there to mock; he’s there to experience humanity in all its full-monty complexity.”  —J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals

“Mark Haskell Smith turns out to be an ideally curious point man into the bizarre and complicated world of modern-day nudism. If there’s a funnier, more interesting book about being naked, I’d very much like to read it.” — Tom Bissell author of Magic Hours

“Naked at Lunch is insightful, brave and inspiring. With extraordinary honesty and humor, Haskell Smith faces down social and personal inhibitions to experience both a fascinating subculture and a moving personal transformation.” — Jillian Lauren, author of the NY Times bestseller Some Girls: My Life in a Harem.

 

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Korea gets Moist

I’m extremely pleased to announce that you can now read Moist in Korean.   Although they did retitle it to: The Man Who Fell in Love with the Girl in the Tattoo.  Which, I admit, is kind of catchy.  Check out the groovy cover!

 Moist is Seoul-ful.
Moist is Seoul-ful.
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Summer Reading 2014

I was asked by my good friend, Norman B, host of WMNF 88.5 Tampa public radio program Life Elsewhere, to come on his show and suggest some summer reading.  (Follow the link and you can find a podcast of the show which airs Monday, July 7th)

As you know I’m a big fan of books that are fun and entertaining all year round, not just the summer, but I actually put some thought into what makes a great beach read.   A good book is a companion, it’s similar to the people you’d go on vacation with.  You don’t want some bimbo or boy toy, and you don’t want some pretentious know-it-all or pompous blowhard; you want someone fun, sexy, and intelligent.  So here are some titles that are fun, sexy, and intelligent.

Here’s what I came up with:

Euphoria by Lily King

9780802122551

Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush by Geoff Dyer

The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax

Listen to the show and hear other great recommendations!

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Bingo

After three sets of revisions based on notes from my editor, Naked at Lunch has finally gone into “production.”   That means I’m now looking at the copy edit, my editor and I are scribbling what’s called “jacket copy” and we’re hitting up fancy writers for blurbs.  If that doesn’t sound strange, somewhere, a beleaguered graphic artist is looking at a naked photo of me and trying to figure out how to turn it into a book cover that will make people want to buy the book and not turn away, repulsed.  Good luck with that.

My editor, Jamison Stoltz, doesn't get to yell "bingo!"
My editor, Jamison Stoltz, doesn’t get to yell “bingo!”

But, after two years of intense work, the end is near for this project.  Which means I’ll turn my attention to important things like watching the World Cup.

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Odds and Ends at the End of April

I have been head down, nose-to-grindstone, flat-out pedal-to-the-metal cranking on Naked at Lunch.  For your enjoyment…. here’s the first paragraph.

First paragraph, first chapter, first draft.
First paragraph, first chapter, first draft.

I should have a finished first draft turned in to my editor by the end of the week.  Then I will do something to celebrate.  Maybe eat spicy noodles.

In addition to that, I got the happy news that Heart of Dankness had been chosen by the Daily Beast as one of the “10 Best Books on Pot.”  You can read the piece here.

And in movie news, Salty has been optioned by Simon West.   I wrote the script for Simon a few years ago (in exchange for a bottle of Patron tequila) and he’s somehow managed to raise the funds to make the film.  They’ve begun casting and I’ll keep you posted.   I’m really excited about this because I think Simon will make a fucking great version of the story.  Turk Henry lives!

With a draft of my book turned in, I will endeavor to enjoy Negroni week to the fullest.

Negroni week at my house.
Negroni week at my house.
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Festival of Books

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has passed and, as always, it was a mega-fun laugh riot of authors and people who like to read getting all smart around each other.

Jamie Quatro and Margaret Wrinkle in the greenroom
Jamie Quatro and Margaret Wrinkle in the greenroom

One of the panels I was on got written up in the Times and you can read about it here.

David L. Ulin and Annabelle Gurwitch and some granny panties.
David L. Ulin and Annabelle Gurwitch and some granny panties.

 

 

 

 

After the festival, I ate spicy noodles at Chego.  Which I highly recommend.

Cheego in Chinatown.
Chego in Chinatown.
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The Big Nude Cruise

Ahoy!  I have returned from a research trip aboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam.  That’s a boat.  Or a ship.  I had never been on a cruise ship before and, if I’m being totally honest, I’ve never really had any desire to go chugging around on the ocean.   It just seems kind of dangerous.  But this cruise was different.  It was a week long clothing-optional bounce around the Caribbean.  So, yeah, like, everyone was naked on the ship.   Except the crew.

author at work
author at work

I was lucky that my wife joined me so we could re-enact that iconic scene from Titanic only as two middle-aged people in the nude.  Good times!   Why did I do this?  Because the deadline for my new non-fiction book Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in an Anti-Textile World is looming.   Where else can you get a total immersion in nudist culture than on a boat full of nudists?

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The Pressure Cooker as Transcendence

A fun conversation between myself and LA Times Book Critic David Ulin is up at the Believer Magazine’s blog.    We talk about writing, reality, and other stuff over a few beers which is pretty much something we do on a regular basis, only this time we recorded for posterity.   Enjoy.

Now that the publication hullaballoo over Raw: A Love Story has died down it’s time for me to get back to work on Naked At Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in an Anti-Textile World.   Wish me luck.

Naked at Lunch in Austria
Naked at Lunch in Austria
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Publication Day Cometh

Today is the day!  Raw – A Love Story is officially on sale at a bookstore near you!   The book has been getting a lot of nice attention.    Amazon named it one of the “Best Fiction and Literature Books for December” and The Wrap called it “One of 12 Must Reads.”    The Daily Beast put it on the hot list (and wrote a really nice review) and Pop Sugar Love Sex named it to their December Book Club list.

If you’re interested, I created a playlist for the book at Large Hearted Boy music blog and was asked to recommend some books.

And a fun interview with me at Los Angeles Magazine and a very thoughtful review in the  Los Angeles Times. 

So, I’ve been busy.   I’m looking forward to getting back to work on Naked At Lunch even if it means that I’ll be naked at lunch.

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Events!!

Here are two book events scheduled for Raw – A Love Story.   

San Francisco – December 2nd @ 6:00pm at Book Passage in the Ferry Building.  You can find more info here.

Pasadena – December 4th @ 7:00pm at Vroman’s Bookstore where I’ll be “in conversation” with David Ulin.  We will talk writing, books, sex, and the ultimate nature of reality.  There will also be cookies and wine.  More info here.

I’m also going to be taking part in the Authors-volunteer-in-Bookstores program on November 30th.   I’ll be helping out at Vroman’s from 11am-1pm and then working a 3-5pm shift at Skylight Books in Los Feliz.   Come down and let me handsell you a book! More info here.

Come out and say hi!