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A Million Heavens (McSweeney's Rectangulars) Hardcover – July 3, 2012


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Frequently Bought Together

A Million Heavens (McSweeney's Rectangulars) + Arkansas + Citrus County
Price for all three: $29.45

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  • Arkansas $9.47
  • Citrus County $2.73

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Product Details

  • Series: McSweeney's Rectangulars
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Edition edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936365731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365739
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wondrous… More than once I handed A Million Heavens to a friend and watched the rhythms compel him or her into the thickness of a paragraph, then onto the next page…. I had to stop reading to actually pace, marveling at what one writer can imagine, what a novel is capable of holding."
—Charles Bock, The New York Times Book Review

Praise for the Paperback Edition:

“John Brandon’s novels are choral compositions in the voice of marginal Americans…Mr. Brandon channels many influences while always sounding like himself. At his best, which he’s at with some frequency here, he writes in a crackling way about small hopes and larger despair. He gravitates to the kind of regional misfits who drew Flannery O’Connor’s eye, and his dialogue is snappy and eccentric, like a combination of two masters of the craft, Elmore Leonard and Charles Portis. [His] strengths — assured prose, well-timed wisecracks and a convincing crew of pilgrims just waiting for directions — are quickly becoming Mr. Brandon’s trademarks."
The New York Times

"[John Brandon] deftly renders a desert wilderness where human hearts are compelled to seek isolation from the pains of the world, but tend to find connectedness despite themselves."
Publisher's Weekly

"A surreal exploration of the origin of inspiration, of what connects humans to each other and to their surroundings. ...Brandon’s gift for conjuring a powerful sense of place has never been stronger as the high-desert sands invade every nook and cranny of the lives of his characters." —Booklist

“Brandon deftly orients his readers to the level of his characters by perfectly evoking the everyday emotions, urges, and annoyances that are relatable despite the uncommon situations they are born of.”
ZYZZYVA

"'A Million Heavens,’ a book that practically shouts from the rooftops its refusal to put on airs, its desire to strip down the prose and get out of its own way. Brandon's unadorned style and disdain for anything ‘fancy’ belie what a good (and sometimes fancy) writer he is, as well as how much he loves playing with the reader's expectations, interrupting and upending traditional elements of the novel even as he claims to want to be the deliverer rather than the composer."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"[John Brandon] deftly renders a desert wilderness where human hearts are compelled to seek isolation from the pains of the world, but tend to find connectedness despite themselves."
Publishers Weekly

"A surreal exploration of the origin of inspiration, of what connects humans to each other and to their surroundings. ...Brandon’s gift for conjuring a powerful sense of place has never been stronger as the high-desert sands invade every nook and cranny of the lives of his characters."
Booklist

“Brandon deftly orients his readers to the level of his characters by perfectly evoking the everyday emotions, urges, and annoyances that are relatable despite the uncommon situations they are born of.”
ZYZZYVA

"'A Million Heavens,’ [is] a book that practically shouts from the rooftops its refusal to put on airs, its desire to strip down the prose and get out of its own way. Brandon's unadorned style and disdain for anything ‘fancy’ belie what a good (and sometimes fancy) writer he is, as well as how much he loves playing with the reader's expectations, interrupting and upending traditional elements of the novel even as he claims to want to be the deliverer rather than the composer.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“A theologically engaged book, salted with hope, as well as blistering insight.”—The Plain Dealer

“Something of a genre-buster: in alternating beats a bittersweet comedy about the law of inertia and a plaintive serial-killer thriller on the laws of the wild. … The crisscrossing roads of A Million Heavens bustle with luminous prose that carries only good news for lovers of original fiction.”
The Boston Globe

“The brilliant thing about A Million Heavens is the way it juggles humanity, wilderness, and a new element for Brandon—the supernatural.”
The Portland Mercury

“Leaves one swift note of humanness ringing in your ears, reminding you that people overcome things, subtly or powerfully, and in the end that it is all right to have questions.”
The Oxford American


"John Brandon is a great young writer who can — and probably will — do just about anything."
San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

John Brandon was raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. His favorite recreational activity is watching college football. This is his third novel.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

This book is OK, but it is not my type of story.
Mary V Harbison
Frankly there were too many characters and story lines, but this sometimes exasperating book eventually came together.
Michael P. McCullough
That is, it's only a surprise because you wouldn't think a published author would indulge in such hackneyed devices.
James Alford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By James Alford on July 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really like the idea of layering the vignettes over and over in an attempt to make the narrative less linear and more "spiral" like. It's worked for others, and it has potential to work for a story like this.

But oh man, the stifling lack of nuance ruins almost every laudable quality this book might attain to. The characters are gratingly predictable in their tendencies, and when the author goes for surprise, it feels less like deft literary subterfuge, and more like irritating juvenile sneakiness. That is, it's only a surprise because you wouldn't think a published author would indulge in such hackneyed devices.

And though you'd hardly think you could distill the un-enjoyability of this book into a single flaw, there is one possibility: the almost inconceivable abuse of cliché. I won't even try to catalog them all here. But it stretches ones capacity for suspending disbelief to think that this work was actually edited by, like, an *editor.* There are turns of phrase so tired that one struggles to understand how the word processing program on the author's laptop didn't insert some of those green squiggly lines that usually imply, "Are you sure you want to write this, since, you know, it kinda sucks?"

I cannot explain how much I love McSweeney's, so I had at least moderate hopes for this. But without indulging an iota of hyperbole, the most generous review I can give of this book is to call it amateurish. You can occasionally glimpse a flicker of talent bouncing off the rough-hewn facets of the largely uninspired story arc, but it utterly escapes me how the folks at McSweeney's thought this was a finished work worth submitting to the public.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erik on June 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like the writing.
I like Brandon's way of putting words together.
But I'm confused about intensions. And I find the story too "metaphysical".
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Format: Hardcover
It took me a while to get into A Million Heavens. It constantly shifts perspectives, always remaining in the third person. Some characters are never referred to directly by name, even after we learn their names. The narrative will simply read, "the gas station owner" or "the music teacher" over and over. Once I got to know the characters and could keep them straight, I settled into the style and hardly wanted to put the book down.

The book itself is beautifully made. A glorious cover with shiny silver and gold against a grey and black background. The pages are nice and heavy; sometimes I thought I was turning two pages at once. This book felt good in my hands. This coming from someone who prefers e-books!

There's a surrealism in A Million Heavens that is conveyed through its more tangible situations. I couldn't determine where things were headed, but toward the end I started to make vague connections, though they were difficult to hold on to. As things became more and more clear, I still wasn't sure how it would finish up. I appreciate a story that keeps me wondering like that.

I liked seeing each character's own personal journey unfold. This is a book I could see myself reading again and again, just to discover what new perceptions and details I'd find.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher after winning a giveaway on the BookSnob blog. There was no obligation to read or review the book; this is my honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.
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By pen name on March 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I'm shocked to see this book received a poor rating. I loved it! I purchased One Million Heavens along with Arkansas (which I have yet to read) after reading the first ten pages of Citrus County because I knew I had found my new favorite author. Yes, the story is not the most interesting, but John Brandon's writing style is what draws me in. In this book, his writing treads a fine line between non-fictional fiction and fantasy. The only thing that disappointed me is that I didn't get to know the characters as well as I would have liked to.
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