A MILLION HEAVENS
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.
For the McSweeney’s Books Preview of A Million Heavens, check out the Tendency. And the McSweeney’s Author Q and A is right this way.
Check out John Brandon’s interview on the Rumpus celebrating the paperback release of A Million Heavens.
Listed as one of 2012’s most anticipated books by The Millions
Praise for A Million Heavens:
“John Brandon’s novels are choral compositions in the voice of marginal Americans… 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
“[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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“‘A Million Heavens,’ [is] 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.”
“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
“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 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