Dr. Brinkley's Tower

Overview

A riotous tale of love and lust, valor and villainy on the Mexican frontier of the 1930s.

Robert Hough’s vivid and wildly imaginative novel takes us to 1931 Mexico and Corazón de la Fuente, a war-ravaged border town where the only enterprise is a brothel in which every girl is called Maria. Enter, from north of the border, Dr. Romulus Brinkley, inventor of a miraculous “goat gland operation” said to cure sexual impotence. When Brinkley decides to build a gargantuan new radio ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$13.00
BN.com price
(Save 23%)$16.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $6.95   
  • Used (8) from $1.99   
Dr. Brinkley's Tower: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price
(Save 35%)$16.99 List Price

Overview

A riotous tale of love and lust, valor and villainy on the Mexican frontier of the 1930s.

Robert Hough’s vivid and wildly imaginative novel takes us to 1931 Mexico and Corazón de la Fuente, a war-ravaged border town where the only enterprise is a brothel in which every girl is called Maria. Enter, from north of the border, Dr. Romulus Brinkley, inventor of a miraculous “goat gland operation” said to cure sexual impotence. When Brinkley decides to build a gargantuan new radio tower to broadcast his services throughout the United States, he chooses none other than Corazón de la Fuente for its site.

The town’s fortunes change overnight, but not all to the good – word of the new prosperity spreads, and Corazón is overrun with desperadoes and mercenaries itching to reopen old wounds. Worst of all, Dr. Brinkley has attracted the affections of the town’s most beautiful citizen, Violeta Cruz. But with the help of a motley band of allies, Violeta’s spurned fiancé, Francisco, decides to fight back.

Inspired by the monstrous shenanigans of a real life American con man and peopled with unforgettable characters, Dr. Brinkley’s Tower captures a young Mexico caught between its own ambitions and the designs of its wealthier neighbor to the north.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An impoverished Mexican border town languishes in the aftermath of the Mexican revolution in Robert Hough’s (The Final Confession of Mabel Stark) lackluster fourth novel. The residents of Corazón de la Fuente have had little to look forward to since revolutionary fighting tore their village apart. So when Dr. Brinkley, an American millionaire, chooses their town to build a radio tower, the villagers are delighted. Although some have reservations about Brinkley, who claims he can cure impotence with his goat gland implantation technique, the economic prospects change most of their minds. After all, the town’s steadiest earners thus far have been the madam and her working girls. As the tower goes up, “the worry so firmly etched into the faces of the townspeople eased, making room for expressions of gaiety.” Francisco Ramirez, a strong-willed teen, takes advantage of the upswing and begins to teach English in order to impress the beautiful Violeta with flowers and sodas. The cantina owner and the madam hire new help to keep up with demand, and the lightened atmosphere leads to strange romantic connections. However, the townspeople quickly learn that Dr. Brinkley might not be the savior they imagined, and that money brings problems as well as prosperity. Unfortunately, a scattered narrative and cardboard characters leave the novel sluggish and colorless. (Jan. 2)
From the Publisher
 "A wildly imaginative historical novel set in the Mexican border town of Corazon de la Fuente, with a nod to the shenanigans of a true-life con artist." – O Magazine

"Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, the inspiration for this folksy, ingratiating novel, was a real person, although his life was tailor-made for fiction. . . . Hough's tone recalls Mark Twain in tall-tale mode, but the story is also shot through with threats and portents. . . . In its own smart, seriocomic way, Hough's novel preaches the virtues of refusing to get screwed again." The Washington Post

“The prosperity an American doctor’s broadcasting service promises to bring a Mexican brothel town instead produces disaster in Dr. Brinkley’s Tower . . . There’s a dignity to the people in the town, despite their poverty, so readers care desperately when the tower brings its changes. We come to inhabit the town, walking its avenues and smelling the cooking . . . Fans of Gabriel García Márquez will recognize a touch of his lyricism, but this book is firmly grounded in reality. At the core of the richly interwoven stories is the search for the difference between false promise and real worth. Memorable historical fiction.” Booklist

"Hough take(s) all of these characters beyond stereotypes and invest(s) them with humanity and humor. . . . Hough slyly presents a cast of characters largely taken in by their own folly and gullibility." -- Kirkus Reviews

The Governor General's Award -- Finalist

"Hilarious and penetrating . . . Hough is a master storyteller." -- Globe and Mail

"Dr. Brinkley’s Tower moves like an extremely well-oiled machine, juggling and nudging forward all kinds of subplots without ever drawing attention to the muscularity required to do so." --  National Post

"A smooth, entertaining and entrancing [read]." -- Toronto Star

"A tapestry-rich, almost magical narrative with dozens of fully realized characters and a vividly detailed world ... [Dr. Brinkley's Tower] is a thing of wonder." -- Edmonton Journal

"An entertaining page-turner" -- NOW Magazine

"With ingenious characters and striking scenes, Hough reveals a love of Mexican culture and has crafted a story that convincingly illustrates the emotions of men and women."  -- FFWD

Kirkus Reviews
Hough fictionalizes the real-life exploits of charlatan Brinkley, known both for his radio broadcasts from Mexico (across the U.S. border) and for his goat-gland implantation procedure to cure male impotence. It would be hard to make this stuff up, and fortunately Hough doesn't have to since Brinkley is a larger-than-life character, oozing the American entrepreneurial spirit in a way that is simultaneously entertaining and disgusting. Ironically, he's somewhat at the periphery of this novel, for Hough centers his work in the sleepy Mexican town of Corazón de la Fuente, where we meet the sweet and hapless Francisco Ramirez. He's besotted with love for Violeta Cruz, a village coquette, though Brinkley eventually seduces her away from Francisco by giving her a job at his radio station. He claims to see in her the makings of a seer, so he sets her up with her own radio show, where she tries to help callers with their personal problems. Along the way we meet a variety of small-town characters, like cantina owner Carlos Hernandez, who develops a problem with impotence; Madame Félix, owner of the local bordello, "The House of Gentlemanly Pleasures"; and Miguel Orozco, the mayor of Corazón de la Fuente, who senses Brinkley chipping away at his political power. Hough manages to take all of these characters beyond stereotypes and invest them with humanity and humor. Eventually, Brinkley impregnates Violeta and then takes it on the lam back to North Carolina, leaving her both seduced and abandoned. Hough slyly presents a cast of characters largely taken in by their own folly and gullibility.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586422035
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 984,455
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Hough is one of Canada’s most critically acclaimed writers and has been published to rave reviews in fifteen countries. His debut novel, The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and was a New York Public Library Best Book . His second novel, The Stowaway, was a finalist for the IMPAC Dublin Award and chosen by the Boston Globe as one of the top ten fiction titles of the year. His most recent novel, The Culprits, was a finalist for the Trillium Book Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. He lives in Toronto.
 
More information about Dr. Brinkley’s Tower and Robert Hough can be found at www.roberthough.ca

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

{ 1 }
Francisco Ramirez stood fretting before an antique full-length mirror framed in strips of shellacked mesquite. It was a fine piece of craftsmanship, hand-built and intricate with detail; if you looked closely, you could see deer heads carved into the frame, each one gazing bemusedly in a different direction. The mirror, one of the family’s few notable possessions, had come to the Ramirez clan almost a century ago, when Francisco’s great-great-great-grandfather presented it to his reddening fourteen-year-old bride on their wedding night. Mi querida, he’d reportedly told her, you are growing lovelier each and every day. Now you can watch it happen as well.
 
It was now 1931, the long, bloody years of the revolution still a fresh wound. The mirror, meanwhile, had been put to daily use by five generations of the family. While it had generally been well cared for, the passage of time had nevertheless taken a toll. There was a spidery hairline crack near the bottom, the result of its having been dropped during one of its many relocations, and the surface was beginning to undulate slightly, not unlike the Coahuilan desert itself. The glass had also started to acquire a dull copper patina, such that it now cast reflections of a slightly seaweed hue. As a result, more than one Ramirez had looked at his or her reflection and erroneously concluded that the carne seca served at dinner had somehow been tainted.
 
The mirror’s real dissolution had occurred during the revolution, when government soldiers were continually requisitioning goods for the war effort, only to spend the proceeds in houses of ill repute. In an attempt to save the mirror, Francisco’s father had placed it in an old municipal grain hopper, where it was hidden beneath a mound of wheat that had been deliberately left to ferment, thus repelling tax collectors with its ammonia reek. When the family finally retrieved their cherished artifact, the wood had permanently absorbed the aroma. No amount of scrubbing, they soon discovered, could stop it from emitting the sour, vinegary odour of a gringo scouring product.
 
Given these shortcomings, the mirror had been relegated to the bedroom used by Francisco, who was now assessing himself in the turbulent, hypercritical way of all adolescents. It was mid-afternoon, and the thin chambray curtains over his bedroom window, drawn to keep out the brutalizing heat, glowed orange.
 
The problem, as he saw it, was his nose. Three years ago, in a game played on the municipal pitch out by the old Spanish mission, Francisco had inadvertently used it to stop a drive by a muchacho known for the lethality of his right foot. While doubled over in a pained, breathless silence, Francisco had grabbed the appendage, which now extended laterally from his face, and instinctively pushed it back into place. The other players looked on, amazed that he was still on his feet.
 
The accident had rendered the bridge of his nose somewhat lumpy in appearance, not unlike the backbone of a spiny armadillo. It was the mildest of disfigurements, and one that had not bothered him in the ensuing years. (In fact, if you asked the majority of the town’s young women, they would tell you that the accident had only added to Francisco’s rugged appeal.) In recent months, however, the equanimity with which he regarded his appearance had vanished, along with his ability to concentrate, sleep soundly, or generate anything resembling an appetite.
 
Ay, he thought to himself. You need the help of an expert.
 
He took a deep breath, crossed the room, and left the dank, crumbling row house in which he lived with his father, his grandmother, and his two young brothers. Walking with his head down, a means of avoiding the many pits and chasms in the street, he moved along Avenida Hidalgo, which formed the southern border of his native town, Corazón de la Fuente. He then bisected the town’s arid main plaza, causing several neighbouring busybodies to wonder where Francisco Ramirez might be heading. Upon reaching the east side of the plaza, just beyond the town’s pitiful church, he entered a narrow side street that led to Corazón’s second, smaller plaza. Little more than a mounding of dry, sun-baked earth, it was surrounded by a traffic circle that serviced a trio of similarly dry and sun-baked laneways.
 
Facing this plazita was the home and business of an eighty-eight-year-old Casanova named Roberto Pántelas. For decades he had made his living by grinding corn, wheat, and coffee beans, and for this reason was referred to by most as the molinero. Yet he was best-known for his understanding of the fairer sex, having bedded somewhere between seven and eight thousand specimens during his long, virile life. Francisco found him sitting on a low wooden bench. Feeling the cool thrown by Francisco’s shadow, the molinero lifted his craggy, age-weathered face.
 
— Francisco Ramirez, he croaked. — My young compadre. You startled me.
 
— Hola, Señor Pántelas.
 
— Please, sit down. Keep an old man company.
 
Francisco lowered himself, a comfortable silence settling between the two. Finally, Francisco felt compelled to speak.
 
— Señor . . . I was wondering if you might help me.
 
The molinero slowly looked in the teenager’s direction.
 
— Help you? How?
 
— Could you tell me . . . How do I . . . win the affection of a young woman? A young woman who is showing no signs of interest?
 
The old man thought for a moment. — By any chance, are we talking about the lovely and serious-minded Violeta Cruz?
 
Francisco nodded, for some reason feeling foolish. In a town with only eight hundred or so residents, all it had taken was a few indiscreet glances, along with an ill-timed blush or two at the mention of her name, and the understanding that Francisco Ramirez was yet another young man who had fallen for Violeta Cruz now followed him wherever he went.
 
— Sí, he answered dejectedly.
 
The molinero chuckled warmly. — Nothing like setting your sights high. She’ll be a tough nut to crack, that one. Of course, if my old eyes are still working as they should, it’ll be worth the effort.
 
Francisco couldn’t help himself. He grinned and nodded.
 
The molinero pondered, his milky eyes gazing into the middle distance, his spotted hands quivering in his lap. His breath slowed so considerably that Francisco feared the old man had chosen that moment to enjoy one of his several daily siestas. Yet just as Francisco was about to touch the molinero on the shoulder, he turned slightly and began to speak.
 
— Why not invite her to tomorrow’s festivities?
 
— I was thinking of that. You think she might accept?
 
The molinero shrugged his shoulders and grinned. — Ay, Francisco, she’s a woman. How would I know?
They’re as unpredictable as desert fire. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be worth the bother.
 
Francisco chuckled, thanked the old man, and prepared to take his leave. Just as he was rising to his feet, the molinero spoke up.
 
— There is one other thing you could try.
 
— And what is that?
 
— A little prayer wouldn’t hurt.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)