Latest News:

Feb

10

2014

 

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I'm jumping off walls with excitement to announce that I'll be writing another book. "Brat Pack America" a look at the locations you know and love from 80s teen movies, will be published by the incredible people at Rare Bird Books in Los Angeles. I start working this month with a publication date in Fall 2015. 

Here's the official announcement...

Kevin Smokler's BRAT PACK AMERICA, a backwards and forwards trip to the places made iconic by 80s teen movies; arcades, malls, neighborhoods and entire towns, these are the places we remember from the last great era of movies about teenagers and where they met up, worked, fell in love and broke each other's hearts, to Tyson Cornell at Rare Bird Books, for publication in February 2015, by Amy Rennert at The Amy Rennert Agency (World).
julia@rarebirdlit.com 

I'll expand this post with questions as they come in. 

See you online and with any luck on the roads of Back Pack America then and now. 



Feb

6

2014

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My next piece for BuzzFeed Books is a look at (mostly terrible) video games adapted from classic works for literatre. The image comes from the Great Gatsby Video Game which you can play onlne for free



Jan

15

2014

The year is 1998. Filmmaker Spike Lee is ten movies into his career but things have hit a snag.  The writer/director’s last three movies have all been adapted from other people’s material and have done so-so with both audiences and critics. The harsher among them say that Lee–successful, admired, and a long way from earlier films (like Do The Right Thing) which have his stamp on every frame–is now phoning it in. For his next project, Lee thinks, he’s got to bring the “Spike Lee” back to “A Spike Lee Joint.” He’s got to write and direct. This story has to be both untold and recognizably his.

He calls the movie He Got Game. The premise: a father-and-son story about basketball. Untold? Not really. But then Lee jukes:  basketball is not just any sport, he’s argues, but more than football or baseball,  America’s Game.  To prove it, Lee opens with slow motion footage of hoops being shot in urban playgrounds and suburban driveways, by high school girls’ teams, across amber waves of grain. The music underneath, in case we didn’t get the message, is “John Henry” by Aaron Copland, a less-recognized piece by the most recognizably “American” composer of them all.  Copland, eight years dead at the time, even gets an onscreen credit.

Music by Aaron Copland

My newest piece for Salon97 on Movies and Classical Music



Jan

8

2014

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I'm going to be doing some writing for BuzzFeed Books. First up: "11 Great Bookstore Names and How They Got Them."  The above photo is from Entry #10: "Murder By the Book" in Houston whose tagline is "Where a Good Crime is Had By All!" 



Jan

8

2014

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

--Alfred Tennyson (via The Writer's Almanac)


Dec

13

2013

Road-Ahead

After 10 months, 16 cities and many thousands of miles, my touring for my book Practical Classics has come to an end. It has been a grueling but immensely rewarding year one I would never trade. But as Andy Richter told Conan O'Brien at the end of the Can't Stop tour.

"Touring is summer camp. And you can't be at summer camp forever. Life calls." 

It's unlikely I'm ever going to be in a band. Nor ejected rudely from the host chair at The Tonight Show. So this is the closest I'll come to going "on tour." And since book tours for authors are now a rare thing unless your last name is Tan, Chabon or New York Times Bestseller, I count myself very lucky. 

This doesn't mean I'm going to looking the other way if a great speaking opportunity comes up (I've got a few on deck for next year already). I'll just be turning my focus to the next thing.

 There will be next book. I'll tell you more about that early next year when the announcement rolls off the line. But I'm very excited to share it with you. I think you'll get a different kick of kick out of this one but a big kick all the same. 

Until then I'll be taking a few weeks off to rest and spend time with friends and family. 

Thank you to everyone who read Practical Classics, invited me to come talk about it, argued and wrestled with it, encouraged me to keep going. It meant everything to have you along on this adventure with me. 

See you on the next one. 



Nov

15

2013

Finishing tour for Practical Classics and a big announcement coming up. Stay tuned...



Oct

10

2013

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"A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men." -- Roald Dahl



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Sep

17

2013

Library

 I'm speaking tomorrow at the Walnut Creek Public Library (here) about Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, the choice for Walnut Creek's citywide book clubEvent is free if you'd like to come. 

Topics I've been thinking about:
  • What censorship means when, putatively at least, everyone has an internet connection? 
  • How Ray Bradbury both imagined the future and feared it. 
  • Is facism different when largely practiced by ordinary people rather than mandated from authority? 
  • Censorship as a class issue. 
Will share complete presentation afterwards. Speak then. 

 

 



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Sep

4

2013

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This is the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL. I'm here as a writer-in-residence until Sept. 10th working on a bunch of next stuff. My room is the one with open shutters in the upper right hand corner of the house. 


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