Take This Man (Simon & Schuster)
Join us this evening and welcome back an icon of literary Los Angeles, Brando Skyhorse!
From PEN/Hemingway award winner Brando Skyhorse comes this stunning, heartfelt memoir in the vein of "The Glass Castle "or "The Tender Bar," the true story of a boy's turbulent childhood growing up with five stepfathers and the mother who was determined to give her son everything but the truth.
When he was three years old, Brando Kelly Ulloa was abandoned by his Mexican father. His mother, Maria, dreaming of a more exciting life, saw no reason for her son to live his life as a Mexican just because he started out as one. The life of "Brando Skyhorse," the American Indian son of an incarcerated political activist, was about to begin.
Through a series of letters to Paul Skyhorse Johnson, a stranger in prison for armed robbery, Maria reinvents herself and her young son as American Indians in the colorful Mexican-American neighborhood of Echo Park, California. There Brando and his mother live with his acerbic grandmother and a rotating cast of surrogate fathers. It will be over thirty years before Brando begins to untangle the truth of his own past, when a surprise discovery online leads him to his biological father at last.
From an acclaimed, prize-winning novelist celebrated for his "indelible storytelling" ("O, The Oprah Magazine"), this extraordinary literary memoir captures a son's single-minded search for a father wherever he can find one, and is destined to become a classic.
Praise for Take This Man
"Take This Man is a grand story full of fantastic characters--characters whom the author brings vividly to life because they ARE his life. Skyhorses's shifting identity creates an intense quest for meaning, a kind of whodunit memoir that explores the sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, often absurd, and always fascinating childhood that the author, no matter his lineage, has no choice but to claim as his own. Pour a shot of Wolff's This Boy's Life, add a jigger of Moehringer's The Tender Bar, throw in a splash of Rivera's Family Installments, and this is what you get: a heady cocktail of memories with a twist."--Kim Barnes, Author of In the Kingdom of Men and In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
"Take This Man is as astonishing a memoir as I've ever read. Brando Skyhorse's beautifully-told tale of his truly bizarre childhood and his search for a father moved me in a way that few books have. I will never forget Skyhorse's charismatic mother and grandmother, nor the tortured triangle the three of them formed. I was reminded at times of Geoffrey Wolff's "The Duke of Deception", and also of "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls and "The Tender Bar" by J.R. Moehringer. But I guarantee that this is a family story unlike any you've read before. It deserves to become a classic."--Will Schwalbe, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Your Life Book Club
"The details of Brando Skyhorse's life are as outlandish and attention-grabbing as his name. Imagine the kind of mother who advertises you for adoption in the back of a magazine and then denies it to your face, or the kind of stepfather who calls his prison 'Arizona State, ' as if discussing his alma mater. Take This Man is a funny and harrowing and touching portrait of the abyss in families between what we know we should do and how our hearts lead us to behave."--Jim Shepard, author of Like You'd Understand, Anyway and You Think That's Bad
"A beautiful, compassionate, but also hilarious and hair-raising tale of one boy's life, the lies and truths his mother told, and the damage and the magic she created. Brando Skyhorse is an irresistible writer with an incredible story."--Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle
"This gorgeous, wrenching, ultimately uplifting book is a testament to the large and generous heart of its author. Brando Skyhorse has made art out of the chaos of his own extraordinary family history, and, in so doing, has raised the bar, not only for memoirists, but for us all."--Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Still Writing
"Take This Man reaches beyond the bounds of my imagination. We use the word "survivor" with disgracefully casual ease. But this writer truly survived being held hostage, raised by wolves. Brando's grandmother and mother are terrifying and mesmerizing. Their cruelty to their biographer was audacious, calculated and thrilling to read. Stories molested him and nourished him. And it is with relief that I read in Take This Man flashes of Brando's bitterness and heat, sane fury directed at the Scheherazades who toyed with him. Whatever else they did to him, when he escaped he knew how to tell a story, and this is one hell of story."--Geoffrey Wolff, author of The Duke of Deception
Brando Skyhorse's debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The book was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross and Can Serrat, Spain. Skyhorse is a graduate of Stanford University and the MFA Writers' Workshop program at UC Irvine. He is the 2014 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University.
Photo by Eric van den Brulle