A THOUSAND MILES FROM NOWHERE
Fleeing New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Henry Garrett is haunted by the ruins of his marriage, a squandered inheritance, and the teaching job he inexplicably quit. He pulls into a small Virginia town after three days on the road, hoping to silence the ceaseless clamor in his head. But this quest for peace and quiet as the only guest at a roadside motel is destroyed when Henry finds himself at the center of a bizarre and violent tragedy. As a result, Henry winds up stranded at the ramshackle motel just outside the small town of Marimore, and it's there that he is pulled into the lives of those around him: Latangi, the motel's recently widowed proprietor, who seems to have a plan for Henry; Marge, a local secretary who marshals the collective energy of her women's church group; and the family of an old man, a prisoner, who dies in a desperate effort to provide for his infirm wife.
For his previous novels John Gregory Brown has been lauded for his "compassionate vision of human destiny" as well as his "melodic, haunting, and rhythmic prose." With A THOUSAND MILES FROM NOWHERE, he assumes his place in the tradition of such masterful storytellers as Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy, offering to readers a tragicomic tour de force about the power of art and compassion and one man's search for faith, love, and redemption.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
“This is a deeply humane look at the vulnerability of black lives, the changing contours of the New South and the restorative potential of literature in the aftermath of catastrophe.” — The New York Times
“Populated by likable and believable characters, an affectionate, understated approach to questions of sanity, survival, and redemption.” — Kirkus Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, Audubon’s Watch is “a brazen performance” (New York Times Book Review) inspired by a brief journal entry made by the artist and ornithologist John James Audubon. This richly atmospheric novel traces the paths of two men whose lives are inextricably linked by the tragic events of a single night. Part historical novel, part Victorian murder mystery, Audubon’s Watch “peels away the familiar legend portion of the biography to explore the private mysteries of memory, remorse, and the redemption of pain” (Los Angeles Times). This is a mesmerizing tale, and “in the end, the subject matter of Brown’s material . . . permits him to capture, in midflight as it were, the hummingbird pulse of the human heart” (Orlando Sentinel).
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
“Brown's ambition and achievement in Audubon's Watch lie in the sensual effects of his ornate, overripe language. Again and again, he pushes his style to the limit, with more than a nod to the stagy conventions of the day. It's a brazen performance that few authors would have the skill or the courage to risk.” -- New York Times Book Review
“Pain brings with it truth, and true appreciation for living. There are few light moments in these pages, but its meaningfulness provides striking images and quiet lessons. John Gregory Brown unfurls the subtle details of two lives with great delicacy and skill.” -- New Orleans Times-Picayune
“It is a rare sensation to encounter an American novel so concerned with the beauty of language and focused on the moral topography of love; these concerns give Audubon’s Watch its fundamental strength.”-- Chicago Tribune
THE WRECKED, BLESSED BODY OF SHELTON LAFLEUR
It s New Orleans during the Depression and 8-year-old Shelton Lafleur tumbles from the top branches of a live oak tree and is crippled for life. His body wrecked but his spirit strong, he flees an oppressive orphanage to face the world alone. A man named Minou takes Shelton under his wing and teaches him how to survive in the segregated South. In a voice filled with rage, regret and surprising humor, Shelton narrates a tale that is both fateful and unforgettable, recounting a life of adversity overcome by grace.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
“The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur is a staggering achievement, John Gregory Brown’s complex portrait of a man painted in prose of stark beauty...Brown is an astonishing writer; disturbing, odd, but mindful always of the importance of narrative, his ample skills evident in this curious, heartbreaking -- and deceptively simple -- story of a man broken and bent but not beaten.” -- The (London) Times
“The organizing constructs behind John Gregory Brown’s dazzling second novel, The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur, are paintings -- or rather, a series of paintings that Lafleur executes as a talented and ultimately successful adult artist...It’s impossible to come away from this novel with anything but admiration for the author -- especially his imaginative command of language and narrative voice.” -- Chicago Tribune
“If William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor were around to read The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur, they would say that Brown has honored their legacy once again...The beauty of Brown’s writing never interferes with the truth he is trying to achieve. It only amplifies it...This novel is John Gregory Brown’s gift of grace to us.” -- Los Angeles Times
DECORATIONS IN A RUINED CEMETARY
The novel that marked John Gregory’s Brown’s much-heralded debut, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery is a “finely wrought tale . . . that unlocks its secrets like a Chinese box, each hidden compartment opening to reveal yet another, until at the end we stand aghast at the complexity that lies before us” (Richmond Times-Dispatch). This is the heartbreaking story of the Eagen's, an New Orleans family of “mixed blood,” as recalled by three unforgettable narrators, each intimately entangled in the family’s small tragedies and betrayals.
Years ago, when his daughter Meredith was young, Dr. Thomas Eagen abruptly left his wife and children in an incident that still haunts Meredith well into adulthood. She longs to discover the truth behind her father's disappearance, as well as the reasons why Thomas's mother, a proud black woman, abandoned his devout Catholic father.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
“John Gregory Brown’s compassionate vision of human destiny is one that contains both suffering and the possibility of deliverance...For a book like Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, the label ‘first novel’ seems grudging and dismissive. Artistry like this is unclassifiable.” -- New York Times Book Review
“I wish more people today would attempt books like this one, novels that take on the big questions, the eternal verities, and, without pretense and a whole lot of claptrap, address the difficulty of finding meaning and significance in life. For this is the stuff of which classics are made and what literature, certainly, is all about. That John Gregory Brown had the nerve to square off before such issues in his first novel is by itself laudable. The fact that he wrote a fine story with believable, memorable characters in the process is reason for applause.” -- Los Angeles Times
“In its Southern-ness, Brown’s novel has an antique quality worth admiring and conserving. His Southerners take care in speaking to each other. The conversations between black Southerners and whites are sometimes of necessity wary and vigilant, but the characters are listening to each other. Brown’s stretches of careful and melodious writing make his first novel something much better than the proverbial promising debut.” -- Washington Post