Arkansas

Arkansas

3.5 2
by John Brandon
     
 

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Originally published by McSweeney’s in hardcover and met with wide acclaim, Arkansas is a darkly comic debut novel written by John Brandon about a pair of drug runners, Kyle and Swin, set in the rural southeast. Drawing comparisons to a striking range of storytellers, from Quentin Tarantino and Mark Twain to Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy,…  See more details below

Overview

Originally published by McSweeney’s in hardcover and met with wide acclaim, Arkansas is a darkly comic debut novel written by John Brandon about a pair of drug runners, Kyle and Swin, set in the rural southeast. Drawing comparisons to a striking range of storytellers, from Quentin Tarantino and Mark Twain to Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy, John Brandon—an MFA graduate of Washington University who worked an array of odd jobs while writing the novel, including at a rubber factory and a windshield warehouse—delivers a tightly written, bitterly funny story that chronicles the monochromatic landscape of the American southeast and gives a glimpse into the mindset of his wildly troubled yet seemingly real characters.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Brandon introduces his main characters gradually in his quirky debut about a bunch of rootless drifters who form an unstable drug-distribution network in Arkansas: Swin Ruiz, who pulls his first scam before dropping out of college; Kyle Ribb, a shoplifter who stumbles on a job as a courier; and mysterious Ken Hovan (aka "Froggy" or "Frog"), who begins with bootleg tapes but graduates to run the shadowy organization. Tangential characters include a middleman, Pat Bright, who oversees Swin and Ruiz in their nebulous and phony cover jobs in a state park, and a black woman known only as "Her," who passes packets and instructions to the couriers. As Swin and Kyle try to puzzle out how to survive in a crumbling organization, their futile attempts to create some semblance of a normal life evoke only pathos. Not evil as such, these unsympathetic people simply fall into a rut that leads inevitably to violence and death. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Brandon's first novel details the grim misadventures of two young drug runners, Kyle and Swin. With boss Pat Bright, they work for a mysterious man named Frog out of a neglected Arkansas state park, as dead bodies pile up in more and more gruesome ways. Bright, whose past is littered with despicable activities, suffers a ghastly death at the hands of Nick, the nephew of a drug customer. After Kyle kills Nick, they dump his body in a swamp and take charge of Bright's operation. The only positive influence in their lives is Swin's girlfriend, Johnna, a nurse who adds a woman's touch to their dumpy trailer. After Johnna gets pregnant, Swin realizes there is no future in what they've been doing and dreams of something better. But as Kyle says, the world has no intention of offering them worthwhile lives, and the distressing conclusion bears him out. Some readers may have difficulty with the violence-others may not care about the misfits crowding out the story-but this uncomfortable book will find an audience in most large public libraries.
—Donna Bettencourt

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802196293
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
06/23/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
663,586
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

JOHN BRANDON was raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. During the writing of this book, he worked at a lumber mill, a windshield warehouse, a Coca-Cola distributor, and several small factories that produce goods made of rubber and plastic. His favorite recreational activity is watching college football. This is his first book.

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