"Bryan Mealer has given us a brilliant, and brilliantly entertaining, portrayal of family, and a bursting-at-the-seams chunk of America in the bargain.”
— Ben Fountain, bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
A saga of family, fortune, faith in Texas, where blood is bond and oil is king...
In 1892, Bryan Mealer’s great-grandfather leaves the Georgia mountains and heads west into Texas, looking for wealth and adventure in the raw and open country. But his luck soon runs out. Beset by drought, the family loses their farm just as the dead pastures around them give way to one of the biggest oil booms in American history. They eventually settle in the small town of Big Spring, where fast fortunes are being made from its own reserves of oil. For the next two generations, the Mealers live on the margins of poverty, laboring in the cotton fields and on the drilling rigs that sprout along the flatland, weathering dust and wind, booms and busts, and tragedies that scatter them like tumbleweed. After embracing Pentecostalism during the Great Depression, they rely heavily on their faith to steel them against hardship and despair. But for young Bobby Mealer, the author’s father, religion is only an agent for rebellion.
In the winter of 1981, when the author is seven years old, Bobby receives a call from an old friend with a simple question, “How'd you like to be a millionaire?”
Twenty-six, and with a wife and three kids, Bobby had left his hometown to seek a life removed from the blowing dust and oil fields, and to find spiritual peace. But now Big Spring’s streets are flooded again with roughnecks, money, and sin. Boom chasers pour in from the busted factory towns in the north. Drilling rigs rise like timber along the pastures, and poor men become millionaires overnight.
Grady Cunningham, Bobby's friend, is one of the newly-minted kings of Big Spring. Loud and flamboyant, with a penchant for floor-length fur coats, Grady pulls Bobby and his young wife into his glamorous orbit. While drilling wells for Grady's oil company, they fly around on private jets and embrace the honky-tonk high life of Texas oilmen. But beneath the Rolexes and Rolls Royce cars is a reality as dark as the crude itself. As Bobby soon discovers, his return to Big Spring is a backslider’s journey into a spiritual wilderness, and one that could cost him his life.
A masterwork of memoir and narrative history, The Kings of Big Spring is an indelible portrait of fortune and ruin as big as Texas itself. And in telling the story of four generations of his family, Mealer also tells the story of America came to be.
Years later, the arrival of her only grandchild raising questions about family and legacy, Paula decided to search for Samuel Lowe's descendants in China. With the support of her brothers and the help of encouraging strangers, a determined Paula eventually pieced together her grandfather's life, following his story from China to Jamaica and back.
Her amazing search is vividly rendered. Paula has produced an emotional memoir that travels from Toronto to Jamaica to China. Using old documents, digital records, and referrals from the insular and interrelated Chinese-Jamaican community, she found three hundred long-lost relatives in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, China. She even located documented family lineage that traces back three thousand years to 1006 BC. Her wonderfully warm elders, all born in Jamaica and raised in China, shared the history and accomplishments of the Lowes in the East and the West, as well as the hardships and persecution suffered by her capitalist grandfather during the Communist era and the Cultural Revolution.
Finding Samuel Lowe is a remarkable journey about one woman's path to self-discovery. It is a story about love and devotion that transcends time and race, and a beautiful reflection of the power of family and the interconnectedness of our world.
My Brother's Madness is part thriller, part exploration that not only describes the causes, character, and journey of mental illness, but also makes sense of it. It is ultimately a story of our own humanity, and answers the question, Am I my brother's keeper?
Born in Czechoslovakia, Mark Slouka’s parents survived the Nazis only to have to escape the Communist purges after the war. Smuggled out of their own country, the newlyweds joined a tide of refugees moving from Innsbruck to Sydney to New York, dragging with them a history of blood and betrayal that their son would be born into.
From World War I to the present, Slouka pieces together a remarkable story of refugees and war, displacement and denial—admitting into evidence memories, dreams, stories, the lies we inherit, and the lies we tell—in an attempt to reach his mother, the enigmatic figure at the center of the labyrinth. Her story, the revelation of her life-long burden and the forty-year love affair that might have saved her, shows the way out of the maze.
Something was nagging Marina Shifrin. As a freshly minted adult with student loan payments, a barely hospitable New York apartment, a “real” job she hated that paid her enough to get by if she also worked two other jobs, something needed to change. Over a few bottles of Two Buck Chuck, Marina and her friend each made lists of thirty things they’d do before the age of thirty. The first thing on Marina’s list was, “Quit My Shitty Job.” So she did, and just like that the List powered her through her twenties.
In 30 Before 30, Marina takes readers through her list and shares personal stories about achieving those goals. Ranging in scope from the simple (Ride A Bike Over the Brooklyn Bridge, Donate Hair) to the life-changing (Move to A Different Country, Become internet Famous), each story shows readers that we don’t all have it figured out, and that’s okay. But for Marina, she did become internet famous (a viral video of her quitting her job after moving to Asia has nearly 19 million views on You Tube) and now writes for Comedy Central’s hit show @Midnight, is also an in-demand stand up, and had a very popular Modern Love column published in the New York Times. None of that would have happened if she didn’t start her list that night. Thank you, Two Buck Chuck.
Told with humor and heart, 30 Before 30 will entertain, motivate, and challenge readers to get out of their comfort zones and live their best lives.