Brian Smith yaks Spent Saints with Denver Westword

Westword: You've spoken about how a love for music led you to writers. Which writers do you think you’ve learned the most about writing from?

Since I didn’t go to school, I had to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Early on, as long as I can remember...I always wanted to be a writer, even if it was journalism. Flannery O’Connor was a big one. And then there were the obvious poets, like Bukowski and Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. Charles Bukowski gets kind of a short shrift; I mean, I read him before Hemingway. He taught me that simplicity and writing about the little brutalities of daily life could be super-entertaining. He taught me that the first and foremost thing about writing is being an entertainer.

My favorite contemporary authors are Bonnie Jo Campbell — and she blurbed my book, even, which was real flattering — and Dorothy Allison. A lot of female writers. I like Donald Ray Pollock and Patrick deWitt...but being self-taught, I zeroed in on the things I wasn’t getting in literature, like sustaining a metaphor and understanding scene and style. At 21 and 22, when I was first putting this together, I was in a band, too. I’m sure my bandmates thought I was a pretentious little fuck [laughs], but they put up with me. [Read here]


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