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Russell Smith's 'Confidence' shows darker side of city life

05/06/2015 03:13 EDT | Updated 05/06/2016 05:59 EDT
Russell Smith's writing is known for pulling no punches when it comes to taking digs at the darker side of urban life, something he says comes from a complex love-hate relationship he has with city life.

"The countryside is terribly boring to me. I like density. I think it's because I didn't grow up in a big city," Smith, who grew up in Halifax, told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"I still feel a bit of wonder and marvel when I walk down the street on a Sunday afternoon and it's packed with people — that's something I always missed growing up.

Smith's latest book, Confidence, is a collection of short stories that shows a darker side of urban dwellers, including mommy bloggers, PhD students, and experimental filmmakers, but he said people shouldn't take offence to how they are portrayed.

"Satire always works that way. Satire is always making fun of something that a person comes from, a scene that a person knows, is an insider in, and that person is making fun of something that that person really, really loves."

Smith said he's trying to portray urban life through the good and the bad, creating characters that are confident and sophisticated on the surface, but unhappy and insecure beneath.

"They all have a secret of some kind — a dark secret. There are guys who are taking care of mentally ill wives who seem to be a real rock and yet they are seeing prostitutes and have a drug addiction. That kind of thing," he said.

"I'm obsessed with secrets because that's where I think story comes from. That's where drama comes from, but I also think that everybody does have a secret."

Russell Smith speaks at the Vancouver Public Library tonight at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Vancouver Writer's Festival Incite series.

To hear the full interview with Russell Smith, listen to the audio labelled: Russell Smith tackles darker side of city life in "Confidence."

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