Place Published: Braddock, PA
Publisher: Braddock Avenue Books
Date Published: March 2018
Eli was right. The act of kindness he envisioned as a lesson to his young son Mark would have serious consequences. Just not the ones he imagined. In carefully modulated prose, Curtis Smith takes us on a journey into one family’s encounter with love, betrayal, and ultimately the hard-earned reward of self-discovery. When Eli, a social worker, husband, and father encounters the roiling waters beneath his conventional life, he bonds with his remarkable son in ways he never expected. But nothing is easy in Lovepain, and this newfound relationship comes at a high cost. Watching his wife, Kate, descend into drug and alcohol abuse, Eli turns increasingly to Zoe, a client who gives him a sense of order and renewed purpose as he struggles with the destruction of his once-secure assumptions. As Eli’s act of generosity exposes the fissure in his own life—his wife’s indiscretion, his own uneasy relationship with his son, and the possibilities and limits of personal relationships—Smith's novel bears witness to our difficult victory over the tangled world of love, hurt, and responsibility.
Praise for Lovepain:
In his graceful pun of a novel, Lovepain, Curtis Smith’s exquisite prose vies for space on the page with incomparable sadness…and if the sadness prevails, it’s only because, well, why shouldn’t it? A peculiar, warm-hearted boy obsessed with birds, his stunned cuckolded father, their days a brew of school plays and children’s angel costumes with a nightly underworld of sinkholes, escaped zoo animals, and drug addiction—this is Big Little Lies, Richard Russo-style…except the lies are all true and Curtis Smith plies his own kind of tradeoff—love for pain, pain for sorrow, and both, finally, for the clunkiest pair of angel wings to ever take flight. This spellbinding father-son tale might not keep you up at night, but it will certainly populate your dreams.
—Abby Frucht, author of The Bell at the End of a Rope
Curtis Smith writes like Hemingway and Denis Johnson’s love child—that is to say, he writes men in need, strong and yet wanting, and with a compassion for the broken people that serve not as the margins but the centers of their stories. And all in lean, elegant prose that kills with kinetic energy and beauty.
—Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World and Other Stories
A breathtaking kaleidoscope of fractured thoughts, images, and emotions, Lovepain portrays in powerful language existing somewhere between the fluid beauty of poetry and the economical clarity of prose the world through the eyes of Eli, a man whose heart has been shattered. The shards are held together, just barely, by the love he bears for his strange, otherworldly son and the boy's troubled mother, who has disappeared without a trace, leaving the two in a tailspin both heartbreaking and heartwarming to behold. A work of poignant truth, subtle art, and quiet genius, Lovepain smooths life's sharpest corners with the simple, excruciating truth of love. It will stay with you long after you put it down.
—Tawni Waters, author Beauty of the Broken and The Long Ride Home
Curtis Smith has published over one hundred stories and essays, and his work has been cited by or appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The Best American Spiritual Writing, The Best Short Fictions, and in the Norton anthology New Microfictions. He's worked with independent presses to publish two chapbooks of flash fiction, three story collections, four novels, two essay collections, and one book of creative nonfiction. He lives and works in Pennsylvania.