Novelist John Brandon to speak for Writing Program Reading Series Oct. 16

Washington University alumnus author of *Arkansas*

Novelist John Brandon, a 2001 MFA graduate of Washington University’s Writing Program in Arts & Sciences, will read from his work at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16.

The talk — part of The Writing Program’s fall Reading Series — is free and open to the public and takes place in Hurst Lounge, Room 201, Duncker Hall, on the university’s Danforth Campus. A reception and book signing will immediately follow.

Brandon is the author of Arkansas, a darkly comic novel about rural drug distribution, which was 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,” notes 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.”

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.

Duncker Hall is located at the northwest corner of Brookings Quadrangle, near the intersection of Brookings and Hoyt drives. For more information, call (314) 935-7130 or email David Schuman at

Calendar Summary

WHO: Novelist John Brandon

WHAT: Reading from his work

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16

WHERE: Hurst Lounge, Room 201 Duncker Hall

COST: Free and open to the public

SPONSOR: Washington University’s Writing Program Reading Series

INFORMATION: (314) 935-7130 or