If you listened to Think yesterday, then you heard an interview with author Daniel Simpson, former New York Times correspondent in Serbia. Simpson is in town this week promoting his new book, A Rough Guide to the Dark Side: Or why I quite my job at the New York Times, to get myself mixed up with Balkan gangsters. It’s a tricky volume. On the one hand A Rough Guide is about his time reporting from the often sureal post-war landscape of Belgrade. But the book is also a deeply personal, sometimes self-effacing account of the author’s slide into drug-hazed disillusionment with journalism that found Simpson inventing alter-egos, fabricating quotes, and blowing off his day job to pursue the madcap dream of starting a musical festival.
I happened to bump into Simpson last night at third night of the four-week video art retrospective currently going on at The Power Station. He described his attempts at launching the musical festival, which aspired to inspire a Serbian Summer of Love, but was co-opted by mafia forces and nefarious security goons who transformed it into something closer to Altamont. Want to hear more? You can read excerpts from the book here, and on Sunday at 2 p.m., Simpson will be appearing at Lucky Dog Books on Garland Road as part of a reading in conjunction with The Writers’ Garret.