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Brandon Hobson Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Desolation of Avenues Untold (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Where the Dead Sit Talking (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Brandon Hobson is an American author of literary fiction books famously known for his book Where the Dead Sit Talking, a book that was longlisted for the National Book Award for fiction in 2018. His work has been featured in magazines such as NOON, The Paris Review Daily, The Believer, Post Road, Conjunctions and in many other places. He is also a winner of Pushcart Prize.

Hobson is also known for novellas such as The Levitationist and Deep Ellum published in 2005 and 2014 respectively.

Where the Dead Sit Talking

Where the Dead Sit Talking tells the story of Sequoyah, a 14/15-year-old who has been living in foster homes and shelters after his mother is sent to prison for alcohol and drug-related cases.

Sequoyah profoundly loves his mother but with time learns how to distance himself from her. He finds a new foster home a couple of miles from where he had been living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In his new home, he is the 3rd foster kid along with 13-year-old George and 17-year-old Rosemary. Sequoyah and Rosemary develop an instant connection from the moment they meet each other, and their bond strengthens. However, their bond is never sexual, but it’s emotionally stable. Sequoyah and George share rooms, and through these, they get to know each other better and learn to get along well. But George is only focused on his interests that include writing a book among others and suffers from trauma-based fears. So his relationship with Sequoyah is not a friendship even though the two grow to care about each other.

Their foster family, known as the Troutts is somehow odd, but they are supportive of their adopted kids. Sequoyah’s caseworker is supportive and kind.
Where the Dead Sit Talking is narrated from Sequoyah’s point of view and through his narration, we get to learn about his childhood & upbringing in Cherokee County, the kitchen accident that left him with a visible facial scar and his mother’s lapses through a series of flashbacks and ruminations.

Sequoyah wants to connect to people and the world, but he doesn’t know how and at time veers from the state of being detached to intensely attached depending on his moods. He is like any other teenage boy but one who’s had a troubled life having to make his way without love or support from any family member. His new family isn’t bad, and Sequoyah does the best he can in his new family.

One of the secondary cast in the story who becomes a center of focus in Sequoyah’s life- or rather who helps the reader get to know Sequoyah better is Rosemary. She becomes a focus of his obsessive attention and interest which creates some problems because she is both unpredictable and unstable.
Even though lots of things happen through the course of the story, they are related to the main story and all controlled in a subtle pitch such that they don’t feel weighty until when they sink in. In the hands of another author, some readers believe that this tale could have been melodramatic and highly emotional. But this isn’t how Sequoyah internalizes it, and so as readers, we don’t either. But the way the story creeps up on the reader makes it engaging.

Brandon Hobson’s writing is phenomenal, and the evocation of both the general setting and Sequoyah’s interiority are sensitively and beautifully rendered. The writing is also strongly controlled and detached from the story style which makes it more effective. Where the Dead Sit Talking boasts layers and many stories within it all which revolve around Sequoyah’s troubled life. For instance, there is the story of Sequoyah’s father and his religion, the story of Sequoyah’s mother addiction and imprisonment, the story of Sequoyah in his new home, story his love for Rosemary’s and the story of Sequoyah’s as a citizen of Cherokee nation. However, it is to be noted that this isn’t the book for the reader who prefers direct answers to ambiguity. It’s a story to ponder after you finish reading wondering what happened to the main character, what he did and why he did it.

The Desolation of Avenues Untold

The Desolation of Avenues Untold is a thrilling book so dynamic and varying it defies simple classification. Like Brandon Hobson’s debut book, Deep Ellum, the story is set in Texas in a fictional city known as Desolation City with streets similar to New York streets.

The story focuses on the search for a pornographic film made by Charlie Chaplin. Everyone seems interested to see the films, and some intend to do whatever it takes to get their hands on the films. At the core of this turmoil, we are introduced to Bornfeldt Chaplin; a divorced guidance counselor in his 40’s trying to get rid of boredom with classic rock and some marijuana. His 12-year-old son seems brighter than he is and unfortunately for him, he possesses the name, Chaplin.

Around him lurks unseen dangers and mysteries, a corrupt OK politician, an underground film club, witchcraft, drug addicts, tornadoes, armadillos, ghosts of dead Hollywood stars and petty thieves.

The Desolation of Avenues Untold can be compared to other acclaimed books such Ryan Boudinot’s book Blueprints of the Afterlife or the Infinite Jest. The physical and emotional landscapes in the novel are manifold. Apart from the main storyline, there are different sporadic vignettes added into the story some which are loosely connected to Charlie Chaplin. Some blend in with the main story well while other pieces the like of the couple who try their luck in a Nevada casino can serve as an excellent standalone short story. The couple’s story takes the readers on an epic journey deep in gambling culture and showcases the author’s abilities in storytelling and topical range.

The mood of the story is more professional than comical. The story examines the despairing search for happiness. Everyone seems focused to get their hands on the Chaplin film. Are money and novelty and intrigued enough to drive people crazy to the ends of the world? Unfortunately, it seems for many people it’s true.

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