Smith, Peter Moore 1965-
SMITH, Peter Moore 1965-
PERSONAL: Born 1965, in Panama; married, wife's name Brigette (a graphic designer). Education: Columbia University, B.A.; Northern Arizona University, M.Ed.; University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, M.F.A.
CAREER: Short-story writer and novelist.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pushcart Prize, 2000, for "Oblivion, Nebraska."
Raveling, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2000.
Los Angeles, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to literary journals, including American Literary Review, Writer's Forum, and Greensboro Review.
SIDELIGHTS: A prize-winning short-story writer, Peter Moore Smith has proven himself to be a novelist with a taste for wounded characters struggling to fit in. In Raveling, the main character, Pilot Airie—his father is an airline pilot—is a schizophrenic haunted by memories of a younger sister, Fiona, who disappeared when he was a child. His mother is a medical specialist who is losing her eyesight and apparently her mind. By contrast, his brother Eric is a successful neurosurgeon with a know-it-all air. When Pilot returns home to help care for his mother, his psychotherapist, Katherine Jane De Quincey-Joy, accompanies him and soon begins an affair with Eric. As Pilot tries to "ravel" together the threads of his family's tragic history as part of his own healing process, his parents and brother are forced to confront their own memories. Katherine too is drawn into the mystery, as she tries to find the truth beneath her patient's delusions. For a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the "book is too disorganized and illfocused to be an effective thriller, and too determined to provide some lurid chills to be the imaginative literary fiction it aspires to." In contrast, Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher found the novel to be a "haunting blend of mystery and magical realism," and Library Journal contributor Craig Shufelt commended it as a "wonderfully simple, engaging, and well written story."
If Pilot Airie is a difficult and unreliable character, Angel Veronchek, the central figure in Smith's novel, Los Angeles, is positively unpleasant. As Joe Hartlaub put it in Bookreporter online, "Angel, who is in his early 30s, is not the kind of guy you're going to spend much time with." Not that it is entirely his fault. An albino with a strong sensitivity to sunlight and a chemical imbalance which is treated with various drugs, he spends his days sitting in an apartment in his underwear watching the director's cut of Blade Runner. While he is working on a never-finished screenplay, his wealthy producer father pays all the bills. Then one day, a beautiful exotic dancer named Angela moves in next door, and the two develop an unlikely friendship and even a romance. Then Angel gets a late-night phone call from Angela, who can only say his name before she is cut off, and with that, she vanishes from his life. Angel is forced to finally emerge from his apartment to search for the beautiful Angela, who becomes more and more elusive the more he discovers about her. He even comes to doubt her very existence, wondering if he invented her in a drug-fueled haze. For a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the resulting "moody and atmospheric psychological thriller embraces the noir aesthetic that's so much a part of the city's history." MBR Bookwatch contributor Harriet Klausner concluded, "this deep look at reality is a two-edged sword that makes Peter Moore Smith's tale compelling albeit with a warning label that the 'star' is as gloomy a protagonist as one will find."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of Raveling, p. 559; November 1, 2000, Nancy Spillman, review of Raveling, p. 559; November 1, 2004, David Wright, review of Los Angeles, p. 469.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Los Angeles, p. 936.
Library Journal, May 1, 2000, Craig Shufelt, review of Raveling, p. 155; February 1, 2005, Susan Clifford Braun, review of Los Angeles, p. 70.
MBR Bookwatch, February, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Los Angeles.
Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2000, review of Raveling, p. 72; October 25, 2004, review of Los Angeles, p. 25.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (April 14, 2005), Somer Robb, review of Raveling; Jack Goodstein, review of Los Angeles.
BookReporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (April 14, 2005), Joe Hartlaub, review of Los Angeles.