Further Joy

Further Joy

by John Brandon
     
 

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In eleven expertly crafted stories, John Brandon gives us a stunning assortment of men and women at the edge of possibility—gamblers and psychics, wanderers and priests, all of them on the verge of finding out what they can get away with, and what they can't. Ranging from haunted deserts to alligator-filled swamps, these are stories of foul luck and strange…  See more details below

Overview

In eleven expertly crafted stories, John Brandon gives us a stunning assortment of men and women at the edge of possibility—gamblers and psychics, wanderers and priests, all of them on the verge of finding out what they can get away with, and what they can't. Ranging from haunted deserts to alligator-filled swamps, these are stories of foul luck and strange visitations, delivered with deadpan humor by an unforgettable voice.

The New York Times praised Brandon's last novel for a style that combined Elmore Leonard and Charles Portis, and now Brandon brings that same darkly American artistry to his very first story collection, demonstrating once again that he belongs in the top ranks of contemporary writers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/21/2014
In his first collection of short stories, Brandon (A Million Heavens) puts forth 11 satisfying portraits of small-town American life and the complex lives of the people who inhabit those communities. With sprightly precision, he chronicles familiar scenes: a couple sitting on the front porch, strangers conversing at bar, neighbors chatting over the balcony. Yet behind these quaint images of quotidian life exists a common human desire for excitement, purpose, and passion. In many of the stories, characters go to extreme ends to maintain their images, create new ones, or realize their imagined lives. Some indulge in illegal schemes to regain lost wealth ("The Favorite"); others simply reflect upon the lives they've made for themselves ("The Picnickers"). While Brandon's language is accessible and humorous, at times it cannot relieve the drabness of the circumstances he's portraying. The collection does have stories that contain mysterious happenings—strange objects appear out of nowhere in one character's home in "The Differing Views," friends go missing in "Palatka," and in "The Inland News" past murder cases resurface—but these stories are less successful. Brandon is at his best when transforming the unremarkable into something worth giving a second glance. (June)
From the Publisher

"An impressive collection, cleareyed and penetrating." —Kirkus Reviews

"Intensely readable, and enormously entertaining.” —Booklist

"John Brandon's debut short story collection Further Joy is darkly entertaining, the stories poignant and remarkably accessible."
Largehearted Boy

“Beautifully crafted stories” —Tampa Bay Times

“With his subtle portrayals of anxiety, through characters haunted by failure, Brandon has made a strength out of all those limitations and obstacles.” —Creative Loafing Tampa

“Brandon’s command of resonant frustration and fear is precise. These are stories abounding with images and situations that tap into emotional and economic anxieties, and do so with style.” —Minneapolis StarTribune

“Brandon has continued to hone his ear for the poetry of American talk.” —Boston Globe

Kirkus Reviews
2014-05-07
Following three novels (A Million Heavens, 2012, etc.), Brandon offers his first story collection: 11 offbeat, open-ended tales in which unmoored people make impulsive decisions."Palatka" is representative. Pauline and Mal are neighbors in a ratty rental building. The 17-year-old Mal dates recklessly, and the somewhat older Pauline feels a motherly concern, especially when Mal goes missing. But here's the twist: Envying Mal's free spirit, Pauline suddenly emulates it with a questionable bar pickup, leaving us in enjoyable suspense. Even more captivating is "The Picnickers." Kim is visiting Rita in Chicago for a week. They're old friends, mid-30s, but when Rita organizes a group of women to visit an outlet mall, Kim, who's single, prefers a field trip with Franklin, Rita's teenage son. Franklin is a supersmart loner, and the two hit it off; he drives them to an actual field, Kim faint with desire, which is inappropriate perhaps but feels wonderful. Stories that don't quite work are "The Midnight Gales" and "The Differing Views," both of which dabble in the surreal. In the former, members of a community are randomly abducted; in the latter, a guy in a condo, devastated after a breakup, sees seven human brains on the floor, presumably projections of his angst. What to do? Brandon seems at a loss about how to make use of those brains. He's at the top of his game with "The Inland News," taking a familiar storyline (police chief uses psychic to solve murder) and beautifully rearranging it. Sofia, done with college, lives with her adoptive uncle Tunsil, a kindly cop. Sofia has psychic powers, and to help her handle them, Tunsil arranges supervised interviews with suspects in a murder case. Sofia "sees" the murder, but that's far from the end, as Brandon embeds the extraordinary in an otherwise ordinary life.An impressive collection, cleareyed and penetrating.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781940450568
Publisher:
McSweeney's Publishing
Publication date:
06/03/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
828,758
File size:
507 KB

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Meet the Author

John Brandon's three novels are Arkansas, Citrus County, and A Million Heavens. He has spent time as the Grisham Fellow in Creative Writing at University of Mississippi, and the Tickner Writing Fellow at Gilman School, in Baltimore. His work has appeared in Oxford American, GQ, Grantland, ESPN the Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Believer, and numerous literary journals. He now lives in St. Paul, and teaches at Hamline University. This is his first story collection.

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