Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Time Enough At Last: Review of John Brandon's Arkansas by Dan McNulty

Your name is Frog.
You spend your days tucked inside a squalid pawnshop that is the front for a lucrative interstate drug racket.
You control a good share of the Southeastern narcotics trade.
You are a character in the debut novel Arkansas by John Brandon.

Brandon comes at the reader with a gritty tale of grifters in the Deep South. All of the elements for great storytelling are present: hard-boiled, dead-on language. Well drawn characters with authentic ticks that make this novel tock along. The narrative alternates between third and second person perspectives, a device which is scarcely used, and even rarer, used to good effect. But Brandon manages to pull it off with ease.

Set against the shady workings of an off-the-grid state park, the novel deals in disappointment and disillusion, love and family, boredom and the burdens of power. But not so much that any of these things are taken too seriously. Arkansas is lighter than your average crime drama and funnier too. It is a No Country for Young Men, a cross between Jim Thompson and Dave Eggers, and well worth picking up at your local bookstore or through following this link.