Tyler Stoddard Smith

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Tyler Stoddard Smith’s writing has appeared in: UTNE Reader, McSweeney’s, Esquire, The Best American Fantasy, The Beautiful Anthology, Tin House, The Morning News, and The Nervous Breakdown, among others. He is also an associate editor of The Big Jewel. His first book, Whore Stories: A Revealing History of the World’s Oldest Profession was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012. He has just completed a dark comic novel set in Houston, TX, for which he is seeking representation.



BY Tyler Stoddard Smith • POSTED ON July 18, 2012

Everything—and everyone—seems to be for sale in these riotous biographical sketches of famous and infamous prostitutes.

Like his subjects, humorist and The Nervous Breakdown contributor Smith wants to offer a good time. In these nuggets of smarmy gossip, he rambles across the whole history of whoredom, from the Roman empress Messalina, who was said to have gone to work in a brothel for kicks, to latter-day strumpets Heidi Fleiss and Jeff Gannon, the online escort who moonlighted in the White House press corps. He toasts brainy 17th-century courtesans, like the Chinese poetess Liu Rushi and the French philosophe Ninon de L’Enclos, and modernist littérateur Jean Genet, who peddled himself to British sailors for sardines and bread. His favorite category of prostitute is the kind you’d never imagine, among whom he numbers Malcolm X, Hollywood he-men Steve McQueen and Clark Gable, and The Brady Bunch’s adorable Maureen McCormick. Smith wouldn’t be caught dead drawing sociological insights from any of this data; he’s strictly out to regale readers with lurid anecdotes, chortling color commentary—“Hell hath no fury like a whore cheated out of her opera tickets”—and miscellaneous zingers. For instance, Bob Dylan’s dubious claim to have sold his body in his salad days makes the author wonder why anyone would pay for sex with “a jaundiced gnu.” Despite his assertion of a nonjudgmental stance, Smith is furiously judgmental toward anyone who cops a moralistic attitude: Televangelist (and secret john) Jimmy Swaggart is “a loathsome pig too tainted even for the abattoir,” and Nancy Reagan is a “hypocritical charlatan.” There’s nothing too edifying between these covers—even the digressions on Diogenes and Hegel are lightweight—but Smith’s caustic wit and bawdy exuberance will keep readers amused.

Loads of good, dirty fun.

Pub Date: July 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1440536052

Page count: 256pp

Publisher: Adams Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

Awards, Press & Interests


Austin, TX

Favorite author

Edith Wharton, John Steinbeck, Jennifer Egan, Charles Portis, Michael Ondaatje...

Favorite book

Blood Meridian, Catch-22, House of Mirth, Coming Through Slaughter, A Visit From the Good Squad

Day job

The salt mine.

Favorite line from a book

"All right, then, I'll go to hell."

Favorite word

albondigas (meatballs in Spanish)

Unexpected skill or talent

I can fold a napkin to resemble a Marian apparition, or a swan.

Passion in life

To run only when chased.


Rap Battles with Emily Dickinson

RAP BATTLES WITH EMILY DICKINSON is a satirical and often hysterical look at history that takes us to the brink of reality but spares us the pain, shame, and frustration of falling in. Smith takes the reader on a journey through an alternative anthology of history's defining moments. Along the way, we meet Rainer Maria Rilke through his lesser-known "Letters to a Young Plumber"; Jean Paul Sartre, working nights as the world's worst 911 operator; Edgar Allan Poe, during an embarrassing brainstorming session involving some of his unfinished stories; Johannes Brahms' notes on some of his more problematic lullabies, and much more. History, art, literature, politics, science, newsmakers -- Smith aims his irrerevently satiric arrows at all of them in RAP BATTLES WITH EMILY DICKINSON; it's revisionist history at its best.


Zurich is a dark, comic novel that revolves around an affluent community (Zurich) nestled inside of Houston, TX. The year is 1999 and the Zurich Little League baseball team has made it to the Southwest Regional Tournament for the first time since 1988, the year when Oliver Rigg enjoyed his career peak--at the age of 13--as a little league baseball star for the community, a place where,"the boulevards were all painted International Klein Blue and named for prestigious artists, thinkers and universities. PhDs staffed the elementary school; children at the vanguard of achievement all hung from massive Chinquapin oaks like blissful baboons in expensive socks." In 1999, Oliver, along with his longtime friend Q, are both 25, "working" as little league umpires and desperately trying to carve out some grace in their lives when Q's grandmother Plumper McCanick, the doyen of Zurich, asks the young men to fix the little league tournament in Zurich's favor. As fears over Y2k terrorize this otherwise docile town into a frenzy, one will say "yes" to Plumper's offer, the other will say "no" and what follows is a compelling and often hilarious look at friendship, death, family and how one high-achieving community comes to grips with the end of the world Holding to the axiom laid down by Nathanael West: "In America fortunes do not accumulate, the soil does not grow, families have no history....You only have time to explode," Zurich follows the town from its founding to its demise, an event which coincides with the little league championship game.