Brandon returns for reading series

Novelist John Brandon, who earned a master of fine arts degree in 2001 from Washington University’s Writing Program in Arts & Sciences, will read from his work at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, for the Fall Reading Series.

Brandon is the author of “Arkansas,” a darkly comic novel about rural drug distribution published last spring by McSweeney’s Rectangulars imprint.

The story centers on Kyle and Swin, a pair of aimless drug runners operating — on vague orders from a boss they’ve never met — out of a dilapidated Arkansas state park.

“Brandon lays down a backstory for each character that blisters with such creepy, suffocatingly real particulars, a reader feels stricken to recognize them,” said a review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“He brilliantly evokes the trailer-trash, time-biding cultures of the Southern states: bland, stagnant cities; towns stuffed with plastic, Wal-Mart junk and gimcracks; and the shuffling, dim lives lining the road to hell, along which our anti-heroes speed,” the review said.

Brandon grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida and, while writing “Arkansas,” worked at a lumber mill, a windshield warehouse, a Coca-Cola distributor and several small factories, including one that produced perfume samples for fashion magazines.

His work has appeared in Subtropics, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Mississippi Review, The Believer, Words & Images and The Duck & Herring Co.

The talk is free and open to the public and takes place in Duncker Hall, Room 201, Hurst Lounge. A reception and book signing will immediately follow.

For more information, call 935-7130 or e-mail David Schuman at