John Brandon, who was raised in New Port Richey, received his bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Florida and a master's from Washington University in St. Louis. His first two novels, Arkansas and Citrus County, centered on troubled, disaffected youth. His newest, A Million Heavens, has a large cast of characters, including a comatose piano prodigy, a tormented angel, a wolf and a lonely girl. Brandon, a past Grisham Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi, will speak at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in PRW 118.
What's on your nightstand?
I have four books on my nightstand. A story collection, Taking Care, by Joy Williams. She has a lot of stories with Florida in it. She was a big deal in the 1970s and 1980s. She can be pretty strange, but she's really fun. Her descriptions are so vivid and her dialogue so sharp and unexpected and her plot so bold that the world you find yourself in is a parallel world, but it's a world that can help you understand this one better. I was introduced to her probably way back in college. I also am reading The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury. What is appealing about this book is that it's the all-time best example of deadpan humor. Tom Drury is the master of deadpan humor. I also have a collection of poems by Donald Justice. He's also from Florida. For people who don't read poetry a lot, his poetry's intentions are clear, but they are never simple. He's a soft-spoken poet but never predictable, and he's never showy.
Are you a frequent poetry reader?
Yes, I think so. As a writer, I love to watch poets do that little bit of magic. They do so much in such a short time.
Any more books?
One more. I have Little Century by Anna Keesey. It's set in eastern Oregon around the turn of the last century. It's like an old fashioned novel in the best way. It's got a lot of stuff in it that makes it real satisfying. It's got a city girl who has to go out on the frontier. It has a star-crossed romance as well as dirty, Old West politics.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer