Jack Pendarvis & John Brandon Podcast

by Adam Reger

One of my most favoritest of contemporary writers, Jack Pendarvis, reads here at an Oxford, MS bookstore with the writer John Brandon (who seems poised for big success with his second novel, Citrus County, from McSweeney’s). I liked, but did not love, Brandon’s first novel, Arkansas, also from McSweeney’s. (A compendium of info on that book is here. They published a couple excerpts, but I’m unable to locate those on the website.) However, I loved, not liked, Brandon’s prose, so I may well check out Citrus County.

Jack Pendarvis cracks me up, whether I’m reading his “blog” or one of his story collections (Your Body Is Changing and The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure), or his novel, Awesome. (One of my great accomplishments during graduate school was, while fiction editor of the grad-student lit mag, Hot Metal Bridge, to solicit a selection from Awesome. Mr. Pendarvis was gracious enough to give us an excellent section of the book, and was a pretty darn nice guy to correspond with.) He is pretty funny here, reading from a column he writes for The Believer. It kind of bummed me out to hear him slated as the opening act, but I guess what with John Brandon’s being something of a rising star, that status may now be appropriate.

The Brandon reading is pretty excellent, too. After hearing what Citrus County is about—it seems to involve a terrible crime, and potentially a love triangle—I am all the more intrigued after listening to this excerpt, which features a middle-school teacher running his students through genealogy presentations and reluctantly planning for his tenure as coach of the school’s girls’ basketball team. If you’re like me, you love it when random stuff comes together.

One sour note about the podcast, as I experienced it: the player really, really sucks. And by that I mean it won’t let you pause or fast-forward (which would be a convenience if you tried to pause the broadcast, realized pushing Play took you all the way back to the beginning, and thought you’d like to skip over the ten minutes you’d already heard).