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Views that inspire, that calm, or that terrify – all come at some cost to the viewer. In Views Cost Extra you will find a New Jersey high school preppy who wants to inhabit the “perfect” cowboy movie, a rural mailman disgusted with the residents of his town who wants to live with the penguins, an ailing screen writer who strikes a deal with Johnny Cash to reverse an old man’s failures, an old man who ponders a young man’s suicide attempt, a one-armed blind blues singer who wants to reunite with the car that took her arm on the assembly line -- and more. These stories suggest that we must pay something to live even ordinary lives.

About the Author

L.E. Smith lives in Vermont, writes books and teaches English, has tried to make it as a tennis pro and as a recording artist for Columbia Records, has trained guard dogs, worked as a security guard for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, delivered mail on the back roads of Vermont, worked as head chef in a restaurant, and for one day sold Fuller Brushes door-to-door in Los Angeles.

Reviews & Interviews

L.E. Smith Spends Time Alone with His Characters on The Story Prize Blog

Meet the Authors: Six local writers you may not have read yet — but should” Seven Days 2012 Winter Reading Issue


“A new breed of story-teller is loose in the land: heedless and headstrong, enraged by the fey and the unambitious, dismissive of the wan and merely well-mannered. L. E. Smith is a member of that good and necessary tribe. His are the stories that result when the imagination is blasted from the ancient ice of convention and effete tradition. Views Cost Extra is made of rubble and shards and splinters and infernal dreams and splintered hopes--all of it less typed than shouted on to the page." 

—Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once, Professor of English, Ohio State University

“The rich stories in Views Cost Extra are filled with rocketing confrontation. L.E. Smith is a ventriloquist with many different voices and dramatic visions.” 

—Alexander Theroux , author of Darconville’s Cat and Laura Warholic 

Views Cost Extra is a fine addition to the exacting art of the short story. Within diverse emotional and geographical settings, L. E. Smith offers a kaleidoscope of color, choosing his words carefully to match, nuance for nuance, his sometimes-gritty, sometimes-atmospheric subject matter. Clearly, Smith relishes both our sumptuous language and life’s contradictory, ambiguous – and wondrous – moments.”

—David Kaslow, author of Living Dangerously with the Horn: Thoughts on Life and Art, Horn Professor, Emeritus, Denver University

“It was Stanley Elkin who taught us that ‘the great gift of fiction . . . is that it gives language the opportunity to happen.’ L.E. Smith, in Views Cost Extra, has taken that opportunity and given us a remarkable collection of short stories, fiction that exploits the miracle that is the English language. He torques it, turns it upside down and inside out, maims it into brilliant particulars that ask us to downshift and pay fresh attention. Smith knows his world, its physical make-up ‘Peel an apple skin with a knife, go all around in one unbroken ribbon, it’s like that—driving roads that hug the mountains of New Hampshire.’ And he understands the human heart in its mythical quest for ‘the quick of significance.’ Often hilarious, always original, these are astonishing stories that reshape the known world.”

—Darrell Spencer, author of Bring Your Legs with You and One Mile Past Dangerous Curve, Professor in Creative Writing at Ohio University

“The language of L.E. Smith's stories is pumped up from long hours in the gym to a hard muscularity that can't be mimicked — it is real, hard won, and brutal. These are not stories for the pale or flighty, but heavy voices: blood, dirt, rotgut, and weariness, in language that grasps that massive weight and lifts, more than you thought humanly possible. And you can't help yourself; you gasp.”

—Ted Pelton, author of Malcolm and Jack, founder of Starcherone Books