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Cover image for Presidio : a novel
Format:
Title:
Presidio : a novel
ISBN:
9781501153860

9781501153877

9781432860769
Edition:
First Touchstone hardcover edition.
Publication:
New York : Touchstone, 2018.
Physical Description:
303 pages : map ; 22 cm
Summary:
Set in the 1970s in the vast and arid landscape of the Texas panhandle, this darkly comic and stunningly mature literary debut tells the story of a car thief and his brother who set out to recover some stolen money and inadvertently kidnap a Mennonite girl who has her own reasons for being on the run. Troy Falconer returns home after years of working as a solitary car thief to help his younger brother, Harlan, search for his wife, who has run away with the little money he had. When they steal a station wagon for the journey, the brothers accidentally kidnap Martha Zacharias, a Mennonite girl asleep in the back of the car. Martha turns out to be a stubborn survivor who refuses to be sent home, so together these unlikely road companions attempt to escape across the Mexican border, pursued by the police and Martha's vengeful father. The story is told partly through Troy's journal, in which he chronicles his encounters with con artists, down-and-outers, and roadside philosophers, people looking for fast money, human connection, or a home long since vanished. The journal details a breakdown that has left Troy unable to function in conventional society; he is reduced to haunting motels, stealing from men roughly his size, living with their possessions in order to have none of his own and all but disappearing into their identities. With a page-turning plot about a kidnapped child, gorgeously written scenes that probe the soul of the American West, and an austere landscape as real as any character, Presidio packs a powerful punch of anomie, dark humor, pathos, and suspense.

1970s, in the Texas panhandle. Troy Falconer returns home after years of working as a solitary car thief to help his younger brother, Harlan, search for his wife, who has run away with the little money he had. When they steal a station wagon for the journey, the brothers accidentally kidnap Martha Zacharias, a Mennonite girl asleep in the back of the car. Martha turns out to be a stubborn survivor who refuses to be sent home. The trio attempts to escape across the Mexican border, pursued by the police and Martha's vengeful father. -- adapted from jacket.
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Library
Call Number
Status
Searching...
Kennedy, R.
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

"A fluent, mordant, authentic, propulsive narrative wonderfully lit from within by an intriguing main character...The Texas of the novel...has been written about before, and very well. Kennedy rises to the challenge and succeeds so well that Larry McMurtry and James Lee Burke have offered their praise."
--Lee Child, The New York Times Book Review

Set in the 1970s in the vast and arid landscape of the Texas panhandle, this darkly comic and stunningly mature literary debut tells the story of a car thief and his brother who set out to recover some stolen money and inadvertently kidnap a Mennonite girl who has her own reasons for being on the run.

Troy Falconer returns home after years of working as a solitary car thief to help his younger brother, Harlan, search for his wife, who has run away with the little money he had. When they steal a station wagon for the journey, the brothers accidentally kidnap Martha Zacharias, a Mennonite girl asleep in the back of the car. Martha turns out to be a stubborn survivor who refuses to be sent home, so together these unlikely road companions attempt to escape across the Mexican border, pursued by the police and Martha's vengeful father.

The story is told partly through Troy's journal, in which he chronicles his encounters with con artists, down-and-outers, and roadside philosophers, people looking for fast money, human connection, or a home long since vanished. The journal details a breakdown that has left Troy unable to function in conventional society; he is reduced to haunting motels, stealing from men roughly his size, living with their possessions in order to have none of his own and all but disappearing into their identities.

With a page-turning plot about a kidnapped child, gorgeously written scenes that probe the soul of the American West, and an austere landscape as real as any character, Presidio packs a powerful punch of anomie, dark humor, pathos, and suspense.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this stellar debut, it's 1972, and Troy Falconer, a professional car thief, returns home to New Cona, Tex. Troy comes at the request of his younger brother, Harlan, whose wife, Bettie, has left him and taken all their money. The two brothers steal a car and hit the road in search of Bettie, unaware of the sleeping passenger in the backseat, Martha Zacharias, an 11-year-old runaway from a Mennonite community. She's looking to be reunited with her father, Aron, who is doing time in a Juárez prison. Not wanting to be arrested for kidnapping, Troy and Harlan plan to drop Martha off at the nearest bus station, but they haven't counted on Martha calling Aron to tell him their location, or Aron catching up with them as they are dropping Martha off. Interspersed with this odyssey through the Texas Panhandle are entries from Troy's diary that detail his gradual descent into a life of crime, which, unfortunately, take time away from the contemporary story. Like the young heroines of She Rides Shotgun, Martha is a memorably single-minded heroine who can stand up to adults engaged in unlawful pursuits. Kennedy soberly etches a Texas landscape of violence and despair as vividly as anything by Larry McMurtry. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

Two estranged brothers and an unexpected passenger embark on a road trip through Texas to recover stolen money in this strong debut.Troy Falconer first appears in notes he's writing to explain how and why he frequents motels to steal cars, clothes, and another man's identity. Two pages later an omniscient narrator describes Troy returning in November 1972 to his hometown in the Texas Panhandle for the first time in over six years. He and his brother, Harlan, have agreed to set aside grudges while trying to track down Harlan's wife, who ran off with most of the money left him by the brothers' father. Toggling between this narrative and the notes, Kennedy reveals one rootless man charting a larcenous course through America and one tied to a dot on the map: "I've spent my whole life here, Troy. Inside of a ten-mile radius," Harlan says. When Troy steals a car at a grocery store, the brothers are unaware that an 11-year-old named Martha is sleeping in the back seat. She adds a third narrative, of a father and daughter separated when he is jailed, wrongly, for kidnapping her, while she is placed with an aunt, whose Ford Country Squire station wagon catches Troy's eye. The feisty girl wants the brothers to take her to El Paso and her father, but they have another target because Harlan says his wife "said something about Presidio once." Kennedy's humor can be broad or sly. He reveals early on, for instance, the quest's overarching absurdity when Troy says he connived with the woman who married Harlan to steal the inheritance. But she lit out on Troy as well.Kennedy has a fertile imagination he lets drift into many beguiling detours, and the writing sparkles throughout. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Itinerant car thief Troy Falconer has little need of possessions, yet his rootless existence consists of stealing clothes out of the seedy Texas motel rooms of similarly sized men before absconding in the victim's car. When Troy and his reticent, bighearted brother, Harlan, set out on an ill-fated car trip across the Panhandle in late 1972, hoping to locate Harlan's scheming wife, who has skipped town with his life savings, they inadvertently kidnap an 11-year-old Mennonite girl who is in the back of the stolen station wagon. The flinty and formidable Martha is a pistol in the mode of Mattie Ross in True Grit (1968). Kennedy employs a conversational and reflective tone as he skillfully explores the nature of guilt, identity, and grief in his assured debut. This deceptively polished confessional imbues the three-dimensional characters with humor, cynicism, and considerable pathos in artful contrast to the moonlike landscape of West Texas. As this tripartite group traverses the otherworldly expanse, a small ad hoc family emerges and, finally, a sense of belonging, however brief. For fans of Larry McMurtry and Philipp Meyer.--Bill Kelly Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY, by Yuval Noah Harari. (Spiegel & Grau, $28.) This sweeping survey of the modern world by an ambitious and stimulating thinker offers a framework for confronting the fears raised by such major issues as nationalism, immigration, education and religion. PRESIDIO, by Randy Kennedy. (Touchstone, $26.) Vintage Texas noir, this first novel follows the flight to the Mexican border of a car thief turned accidental kidnapper. BOOM TOWN: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-Class Metropolis, by Sam Anderson. (Crown, $28.) A vivid, slightly surreal history of "the great minor city of America," starting 500 million years ago and continuing up through Timothy McVeigh, Kevin Durant and the Flaming Lips. FASHION CLIMBING: A Memoir With Photographs, by Bill Cunningham. (Penguin Press, $27.) Discovered after his death, these autobiobraphical essays chart the beloved New York Times photographer's early career as a milliner, fashion reporter and discerning observer of high society. SMALL SMALL FRY, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs. (Grove, $26.) BrenFUY nan-Jobs's memoir of an unstable childhood at the mercy of her depressed, volatile and chronically impoverished mother, on the one hand, and her famous, wealthy and emotionally abusive father, on the other, is a luminous, if deeply disturbing, work of art. CHERRY, by Nico Walker. (Knopf, $26.95.) The incarcerated novelist's debut is a singular portrait of the opioid epidemic and the United States' failure to provide adequate support to veterans. It's full of slapstick comedy, despite gut-clenching depictions of dope sickness, the futility of war and PTSD. OPEN ME, by Lisa Locascio. (Grove, $25.) This debut novel by a lovely, imagistic writer is a subversion of the study-abroad narrative: Instead of being transformed by the external world in Denmark, the narrator dives inward, spending her days discovering the possibilities of her own pleasure. TERRARIUM: New and Selected Stories, by Valerie Trueblood. (Counterpoint, $26.) Urgent, unnerving and tightly packed short fiction that covers enough ground for a library of novels. BUT NOT THE ARMADILLO, written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton. (Simon & Schuster, $5.99; ages 0 to 4.) Boynton's new board book, a follow-up to "But Not the Hippopotamus," stars another creature who'd rather not join in. Some folks just prefer to go their own way - toddlers will understand. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books


Library Journal Review

Troy Falconer is a professional reprobate, driven to anonymity in order to conceal his ongoing lifestyle of motel break-ins and car thefts. Never owning anything, Troy has managed to stay inconspicuous his entire life by subsisting on an uncanny ability to take his livelihood from others. When a potential inheritance lures Troy back to his home town and his estranged brother, -Harlan, his way of life and his confidence in it is threatened. In this Western set in the 1970s Texas flat lands, the town of Presidio is populated with Mexicans, Low German Mennonites, and native Texans-all attempting to gain some kind of control over their chaotic lives. VERDICT Kennedy (Kingdom of Invaders; Subwayland) creates a reality that blows desert dust into the eyes and cheap motel musk into the nostrils, successfully capturing the intertwining lives of sad sacks who are painfully and at times comically doomed. Those who enjoy classic Western "drifter dramas" will be sinfully satisfied.-Russell Miller, Prescott P.L., AZ © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.