Fiction Brewster

Published on September 23rd, 2013


Brewster by Mark Slouka

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Blurb: As an infant, Jon Mosher tragically lost his older brother to a freak accident – something that could have happened to any family. There’s nothing he could have done to prevent it, but there it is anyway, that loss echoing in every room and painted on the faces of his parents – German Jews who’d escaped the war – as if to say: you weren’t, and aren’t, enough. Saddled with this absence, Jon’s life has been defined by what’s missing and what he lacks; that is, until in high school he befriends wisecracking Ray, a reckless boy with a volatile father, and finds that he can run with the kind of grace and speed possessed by only the most promising track stars in the state. Against the backdrop of the Summer of Love and the encroaching Vietnam War, Jon dreams of ultimately leaving his grey, blue-collar town, but is set on an irrevocable course as the escalating violence of Ray’s home life threatens to shatter their bright-eyed plans to escape. Pulled between obligation and desire, Jon’s faced with the impossible decision of whether to help, or run. (Portobello Books, 2013)

Eleanor Henderson, The New York Times

“A familiar music beats throughout “Brewster,” Mark Slouka’s intense and elegiac novel about the friendship between two teenage boys during the late 1960s and early ’70s. The Beatles and the Stones are on every radio. Every cafeteria conversation finds a way to Muhammad Ali or Charles Manson, Kent State or the draft … Slouka’s storytelling is sure and patient, deceptively steady and devastatingly agile. Like Ray, the profoundly lovable hero, Brewster is full of secrets, and they are tragic ones.”

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Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“Slouka has developed an elliptical storytelling technique that might tempt you to imagine that, despite the elegance of these sentences, nothing much is happening in his novel — just sullen teens getting in scrapes and counting down the days. But that would be a misimpression that too many distracted parents and unsympathetic teachers make about such kids. Beneath the shrugs and oblique responses, their lives are riven by impossible choices, spiritual crises and — it eventually becomes clear — acts of unspeakable cruelty. Slouka’s real triumph here is capturing the amber of grief, the way love and time have crystallized these memories into something just as gorgeous as it is devastating.”

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Francesca Angelini, The Sunday Times

“Told in minimalist prose, Brewster is a quietly potent coming-of-age novel.”

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