Brandon is a recovering English major. He's also an Italophile and '80s heavy metal enthusiast. He thinks Andrei Rublev is the greatest film ever made, but derives his greatest cinematic pleasure from this scene from KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.
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Vagabonds!: A Novel By Eloghosa Osunde Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780593330029
Published: Riverhead Books - March 15th, 2022

"Every page throbs with energy in this exhilarating novel about queer people loving each other in a country where their existence is literally outlawed, where spirits and the living commingle, where even the city itself—the volatile, many-eyed godhead of Lagos—has much to say. Kaleidoscopic, polyphonic, unapologetic, Vagabonds! is a ferocious debut." —Brandon

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Small Things Like These By Claire Keegan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802158741
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - November 30th, 2021

"What Claire Keegan manages to evoke in so few pages is a kind of miracle to me. Every word matters, nothing out of place, and at the end there were tears standing in my eyes. The final scene in particular stirred huge emotions, but so quietly, soft as snowfall. I love this novel and will read it again, likely every wintertime forever. An instant classic." —Brandon

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History of Wolves By Emily Fridlund Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802125873
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - January 3rd, 2017

A punch to the heart lies at the center of History of Wolves—a punch readers may not see coming until some critical point when they look up from the page and realize what Fridlund has been doing to them all along: setting them up to knock them down. Hard. In this tremendous debut, she writes with unbelievable craft and depth of feeling about girlhood, sexual awakening, guilt, belief, and above all the shattering limits of faith. The result is a novel of huge power, one destined to be among the most talked-about of the season. —Brandon

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Green Island: A Novel By Shawna Yang Ryan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101872369
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - January 10th, 2017

Green Island is a triumph. It's got everything going for it — epic historical setting, multi-generational sweep, insight after lacerating insight, gorgeous sentences that will thrill lit snobs but won't alienate more casual readers, and plot, plot, plot. Things happen in this novel. Important things. Devastating things. Hopeful things. Things I'll never forget. I love this book. —Brandon

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Woke Up Lonely: A Novel By Fiona Maazel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555976729
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Graywolf Press - April 1st, 2014

Fiona Maazel writes like an angel—and prods and stabs like a devil. Woke Up Lonely is a torrent of narrative energy, rich with observation and incident, all of it shot through with a sad, savage humor that had me laughing and wincing at the same time. Maazel brilliantly taps into the sinking feeling that, even in wired and socially networked America, we're all in this together, alone. —Brandon

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Union Atlantic: A Novel (Lambda Literary Award) By Adam Haslett Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307388292
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Anchor - February 8th, 2011

Much has been made of Adam Haslett's zeitgeist-capturing prescience in Union Atlantic (the New York Times, for example, noted an "eerie overlap of its narrative with current events in the American economy"), but ultimately this is a story about people. Wealthy businessman Doug Fanning is a despicable but compelling protagonist, Charlotte Graves and her unusual dogs are unforgettable, and Nate Fuller's emotionally brutal coming-of-age story ends on a grace note whose poignancy is among the most heartbreaking I've read. Highly recommended. Brandon

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American Pastoral: American Trilogy 1 (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (Vintage International) By Philip Roth Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375701429
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - February 3rd, 1998

Roth gives us two of his greatest novels in his so-called “American Trilogy.” I Married a Communist is a good book (good enough, anyway), but American Pastoral and The Human Stain—both of which were singled out by the New York Times as contenders for the best American novel of the last 25 years—are masterworks. If you’re familiar only with Portnoy’s Complaint (the book that made Roth a superstar), do yourself a favor and pick up the American Trilogy. The eloquence of Roth’s prose and the sagacity of his endlessly fascinating and agile mind are electrifying. Each is a stand-alone novel, so I recommend starting with American Pastoral, then The Human Stain, and finally I Married a Communist. Brandon

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Last Night (Vintage International) By James Salter Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078417
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - March 14th, 2006

A stunning collection of stories by a writer whose supple, understated prose is among the finest I know—all the more so for its ability to quietly set up one electrifying revelation after another. These are masterful stories about men and women, memory and loss, but above all they are stories about desire—how unfulfilled longing defines and dismantles us. Grab a copy and find a quiet spot in the bookstore. Open to the first story and read. I’m confident you’ll be unable to forget it. —Brandon

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Dark Water: Art, Disaster, and Redemption in Florence By Robert Clark Cover Image
ISBN: 9780767926492
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Anchor - October 6th, 2009

An impressively researched book not only about the flood that inundated Florence in 1966, but about the city’s dizzying collection of Renaissance masterworks, the men who created them, and the volatile river Arno that has routinely attempted to carry them off. Clark also tells the story of the angeli del fango, or "mud angels," who traveled to the devastated city to help however they could, and the art-besotted Life photographer who recorded it all for posterity. He reveals the struggles and triumphs of the men and women who labored for years to restore the work of Florence’s greatest sons -- Giotto, Michelangelo, Donatello and, most dramatically, Cimabue, whose Crosifisso, the painting that touched off the Renaissance, was found severely damaged in the church of Santa Croce. —Brandon

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The Zero: A Novel By Jess Walter Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061189432
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - August 7th, 2007

Jess Walter has written a 9/11 novel of darkly comic genius that is plot-driven, suspenseful, heavy on the dialogue (for which he has a remarkable ear), and above all, funny. Sadness, astonishment, absurdity and an exhilarating gallows humor easily coexist in The Zero, all of it rendered in prose that at times will take your breath away. Brandon

Speak You Also: A Survivor's Reckoning By Paul Steinberg, Linda Coverdale (Translated by) Cover Image
By Paul Steinberg, Linda Coverdale (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780312420451
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - December 7th, 2001

Forgoing the graphic litany of atrocities that characterizes so much Holocaust literature, Auschwitz survivor Paul Steinberg instead focuses on the lingering effects of having survived—the fifty-plus years of sleeplessness, strained relationships and brutal self-recriminations that haunted him until his death in 1999. An unapologetic rejoinder to fellow prisoner Primo Levi—who recast Steinberg as “Henri,” the ultimate survivor, in If This Is a ManSpeak You Also asks the terrifying question, At what price survival? The answers tormented Steinberg all his life, but there is peace amid the turbulence of this astonishing little book. “A delivery,” Steinberg writes, “no matter how long overdue, is still a deliverance.” Brandon


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Haroun and the Sea of Stories By Salman Rushdie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780140157376
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - November 1st, 1991

Zembla, Zenda, Xanadu:
All our dream-worlds may come true.
Fairy lands are fearsome too.
As I wander far from view
Read, and bring me home to you.

Like all good children’s fables—and this is among the best—Haroun and the Sea of Stories is dense with allusion and adult themes, in this case the vital role of storytelling and unrestricted speech in a healthy democracy. Mostly, though, you'll delight in the adventures of young Haroun and his friends Iff the Water Genie, Butt the Hoopoe, the glumfish Bagha and Goopy, and Haroun’s storyteller father, the famous Shah of Blah. (By the way, if you can find it, pick up the audio version, read by Rushdie himself. It’s one of the most joyous recordings I know.) —Brandon