A Million Heavens

( 3 )

Overview


On the top floor of a small desert hospital, an unlikely piano prodigy lies in a coma, attended to by his gruff, helpless father. Outside the clinic, a motley vigil assembles beneath a reluctant New Mexico winter?all watched by a disconsolate wolf on his nightly rounds. To some the boy is a novelty, to others a religion. And above them, a would-be angel sits captive in a holding cell of the afterlife, finishing the work he began on Earth, writing the songs that could free him. ...
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A Million Heavens

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Overview


On the top floor of a small desert hospital, an unlikely piano prodigy lies in a coma, attended to by his gruff, helpless father. Outside the clinic, a motley vigil assembles beneath a reluctant New Mexico winter—all watched by a disconsolate wolf on his nightly rounds. To some the boy is a novelty, to others a religion. And above them, a would-be angel sits captive in a holding cell of the afterlife, finishing the work he began on Earth, writing the songs that could free him.

A Million Heavens brings John Brandon’s deadpan humor and hard-won empathy to a new realm of gritty surrealism—a surprising and exciting turn from one of the best young novelists of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Wondrous… More than once I handed A Million Heavens to a friend and watched the rhythms compel him or her into the thickness of a paragraph, then onto the next page…. I had to stop reading to actually pace, marveling at what one writer can imagine, what a novel is capable of holding.”
—Charles Bock, New York Times Book Review

“John Brandon’s novels are choral compositions in the voice of marginal Americans…Mr. Brandon channels many influences while always sounding like himself. At his best, which he’s at with some frequency here, he writes in a crackling way about small hopes and larger despair. He gravitates to the kind of regional misfits who drew Flannery O’Connor’s eye, and his dialogue is snappy and eccentric, like a combination of two masters of the craft, Elmore Leonard and Charles Portis. [His] strengths — assured prose, well-timed wisecracks and a convincing crew of pilgrims just waiting for directions — are quickly becoming Mr. Brandon’s trademarks."
The New York Times

"A surreal exploration of the origin of inspiration, of what connects humans to each other and to their surroundings. ...Brandon’s gift for conjuring a powerful sense of place has never been stronger as the high-desert sands invade every nook and cranny of the lives of his characters."
Booklist

“Brandon deftly orients his readers to the level of his characters by perfectly evoking the everyday emotions, urges, and annoyances that are relatable despite the uncommon situations they are born of.”
ZYZZYVA

"'A Million Heavens,’ a book that practically shouts from the rooftops its refusal to put on airs, its desire to strip down the prose and get out of its own way. Brandon's unadorned style and disdain for anything ‘fancy’ belie what a good (and sometimes fancy) writer he is, as well as how much he loves playing with the reader's expectations, interrupting and upending traditional elements of the novel even as he claims to want to be the deliverer rather than the composer."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"A surreal exploration of the origin of inspiration, of what connects humans to each other and to their surroundings. ...Brandon’s gift for conjuring a powerful sense of place has never been stronger as the high-desert sands invade every nook and cranny of the lives of his characters."
Booklist

"[John Brandon] deftly renders a desert wilderness where human hearts are compelled to seek isolation from the pains of the world, but tend to find connectedness despite themselves."
Publishers Weekly

“A theologically engaged book, salted with hope, as well as blistering insight.”
The Plain Dealer

“Something of a genre-buster: in alternating beats a bittersweet comedy about the law of inertia and a plaintive serial-killer thriller on the laws of the wild. … The crisscrossing roads of A Million Heavens bustle with luminous prose that carries only good news for lovers of original fiction.”
The Boston Globe

“The brilliant thing about A Million Heavens is the way it juggles humanity, wilderness, and a new element for Brandon—the supernatural.”
The Portland Mercury

“Leaves one swift note of humanness ringing in your ears, reminding you that people overcome things, subtly or powerfully, and in the end that it is all right to have questions.”
The Oxford American

The New York Times
Mr. Brandon channels many influences while always sounding like himself. At his best…he writes in a crackling way about small hopes and larger despair. He gravitates to the kind of regional misfits who drew Flannery O'Connor's eye, and his dialogue is snappy and eccentric, like a combination of two masters of the craft, Elmore Leonard and Charles Portis…The shortcomings of A Million Heavens are those of a confident young author trying new things, which is no crime and may even pay dividends. Its strengths—assured prose, well-timed wisecracks and a convincing crew of pilgrims just waiting for directions—are quickly becoming Mr. Brandon's trademarks.
—John Williams
The New York Times Book Review
More than once I handed A Million Heavens to a friend and watched the rhythms compel him or her into the thickness of a paragraph, then onto the next page, deeper toward where Brandon wanted the reader to go, though he never tipped too much about where that might be…A Million Heavens is nothing more—or less—than a sweet ride, smooth traveling for both the mind and heart.
—Charles Bock
Publishers Weekly
Brandon explores strange territory in his third novel (after Citrus County), artfully braiding the narratives of several souls wandering the desert around Lofte, N.Mex. A college girl named Cecelia, who “felt off the grid, away from herself even,” begins hearing songs she suspects her dead band mate Reggie is sending from the great beyond. At night, she holds vigil with strangers beneath the hospital window of Soren, a young boy who, during his first piano lesson, had played an impromptu masterpiece heretofore unheard, and then had fallen into a sudden coma. His father sits patiently by his bed, awaiting his awakening. A wolf, hungry for knowledge and losing its instinct, slows his nightly rounds to listen beneath Cecelia’s window as she channels Reggie’s songs. Even in death, Reggie holds a vigil of sorts where musical instruments are provided, but reasons for his life and death are not. Though Brandon occasionally verges on cloying fabulism, he deftly renders a desert wilderness where human hearts are compelled to seek isolation from the pains of the world, but tend to find connectedness despite themselves. Agent: Amy Williams, McCormick & Williams. (July 24)
Library Journal
Brandon (Citrus Country, Alabama) well deserves his role of indie literature's rising star. His southern drawl bleeds through into his sparse but lyrical prose, at times reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy; his plots pack a punch. His new novel is a bit of a departure from his crime fiction tendencies and forays quite literally into the great unknown. It is told in rounds by a wide cast of characters, from a wolf to the mayor of Lofte, the small town in New Mexico where the book is set. The dying town attracts numerous visitors when a local boy falls into a coma and a young musician with a cult following dies in a car accident. These two, as well as the other characters, find themselves inextricably connected. VERDICT Brandon is a master at spinning a yarn. Be prepared to stay up late with this one!—Kate Gray, New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781938073342
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/16/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 937,722
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


John Brandon was raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. His favorite recreational activity is watching college football. This is his third novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 28, 2014

    Interesting

    quiet story with interesting characters in unusual situations

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    It took me a while to get into A Million Heavens. It constantly

    It took me a while to get into A Million Heavens. It constantly shifts perspectives, always remaining in the third person. Some characters are never referred to directly by name, even after we learn their names. The narrative will simply read, "the gas station owner" or "the music teacher" over and over. Once I got to know the characters and could keep them straight, I settled into the style and hardly wanted to put the book down.

    The book itself is beautifully made. A glorious cover with shiny silver and gold against a grey and black background. The pages are nice and heavy; sometimes I thought I was turning two pages at once. This book felt good in my hands. This coming from someone who prefers e-books!

    There's a surrealism in A Million Heavens that is conveyed through its more tangible situations. I couldn't determine where things were headed, but toward the end I started to make vague connections, though they were difficult to hold on to. As things became more and more clear, I still wasn't sure how it would finish up. I appreciate a story that keeps me wondering like that.

    I liked seeing each character's own personal journey unfold. This is a book I could see myself reading again and again, just to discover what new perceptions and details I'd find.

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher after winning a giveaway on the BookSnob blog. There was no obligation to read or review the book; this is my honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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