Local author, former LA Times reporter publishes 9th book
Author Martin Smith will hold a book signing event beginning at 6 p.m. at the Granby Library on Nov. 9. Smith will offer a presentation on his book and the essays contained within it and will be available to sign copies.
From the beatniks to the Manson Family, from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, there is something about the American southwest that draws eccentrics of all stripes, which Grand County author and former Los Angeles Times reporter Martin Smith knows first hand.
Smith, who now resides in Granby after a 30-plus-year career as a journalist and magazine editor, published his ninth book on Wednesday. Titled “Mr. Las Vegas Has A Bad Knee” the books is a retelling of sorts; a collection of essays and articles Smith wrote during his many years of reporting on the unique characters and surreal events that often define California and the other states of the region.
In the introduction to his book Smith writes, “Does the region have more than its share of marginally delusional dreamers? Of course. Charles Manson was one of them, but then, so was Howard Hughes. So were William Shockley, who invented the transistor and paved the road to Silicon Valley, and gawky kid-wonks named Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.”
In explaining the inspiration to create his new book Smith put the effort in context of returning to stories that captured his imagination as a reporter.
“Journalism is kind of a first draft of history,” Smith said. “We don’t always get to tell the whole story. This was an opportunity to go back and revisit those people, and places and things; to update them.”
The title of the book is a reference to famed Las Vegas performer Wayne Newton. Other essays from the book cover artists who compete in duck painting competitions, guitarist Dick Dale who reemerged from the hinterlands of fame after the film, Pulp Fiction, was released, and a retired Long Beach podiatrist who, at 69, decided he wanted to perfect the basketball free throw.
Originally from Alabama, Smith started his career in journalism with a small community newspaper in Pennsylvania called the Eastern Express. He worked for the Pittsburgh Press during the 1980s as the regional steel industry went through a collapse. He left Pittsburgh to join the Orange County Register before going to work for the LA Times. He served as senior editor of LA Times Magazine for seven years before spending the last years of his career as editor of Orange Coast Magazine.
A little less than two years ago Smith moved to Granby, where he now resides full-time. This fall, Smith helped lead a series of eight writer workshops called Grand County Community Writers, held through the Grand County Library District. The group held four fiction workshops in September and four nonfiction workshops in October. Smith said the group plans to hold a few more workshops this winter and spring, though did not have any specific details, and added they hope to hold additional workshops next fall.
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