Desert Boys: Fiction

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Winner of the Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award

Finalist for the Binghamton University’s John Gardner Fiction Book Award

Finalist for the Saroyan Prize for Fiction

Longlisted for the Chautauqua Prize

"Hilarious, Devious, Original, and Unforgettable."—Karen Russell

A vivid and assured work of fiction, from a major new voice, following the life of a young man growing up, leaving home, and coming back again, marked by the start beauty of California's Mojave Desert and the various fates of those who leave and those who stay behind.

This series of powerful, intertwining stories illuminates Daley Kushner's world - the family, friends and community that have both formed and constrained him, and his new life in San Francisco. Back home, the desert preys on those who cannot conform: an alfalfa farmer on the outskirts of town; two young girls whose curiosity leads to danger; a black politician who once served as his school's confederate mascot; Daley's mother, an immigrant from Armenia; and Daley himself, introspective and queer. Meanwhile, in another desert on the other side of the world, war threatens to fracture Daley's most meaningful - and most fraught - connection to home, his friendship with Robert Karinger.

A luminous debut, Desert Boys by Chris McCormick traces the development of towns into cities, of boys into men, and the haunting effects produced when the two transformations overlap. Both a bildungsroman and a portrait of a changing place, the book mines the terrain between the desire to escape and the hunger to belong.

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About the author

Chris McCormick is the author of the debut story collection Desert Boys, winner of the 2017 Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literature Award. Originally from the California side of the Mojave Desert, he earned his MFA at the University of Michigan, where he was the recipient of two Hopwood Awards. He is currently an assistant professor at Minnesota State University, where he's at work on his second book, a novel.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Picador
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Published on
May 3, 2016
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781250075512
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / LGBT / Gay
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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“The Gimmicks is a gorgeous epic that astounds with its scope and beauty. With empathy and humor, McCormick unravels the ties between brotherhood and betrayal, love and abandonment, and the fictions we create to live with the pain of the past. This novel will blow you away.”—Brit Bennett, New York Times bestselling author of The Mothers

Set in the waning years of the Cold War, a stunning debut novel about a trio of young Armenians that moves from the Soviet Union, across Europe, to Southern California, and at its center, one of the most tragic cataclysms in twentieth-century history—the Armenian Genocide—whose traumatic reverberations will have unexpected consequences on all three lives.

This exuberant, wholly original novel begins in Kirovakan, Armenia, in 1971. Ruben Petrosian is a serious, solitary young man who cares about two things: mastering the game of backgammon to beat his archrival, Mina, and studying the history of his ancestors. Ruben grieves the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, a crime still denied by the descendants of its perpetrators, and dreams of vengeance.

When his orphaned cousin, Avo, comes to live with his family, Ruben’s life is transformed. Gregarious and physically enormous, with a distinct unibrow that becomes his signature, Avo is instantly beloved. He is everything Ruben is not, yet the two form a bond they swear never to break.

But their paths diverge when Ruben vanishes—drafted into an extremist group that will stop at nothing to make Turkey acknowledge the genocide. Unmoored by Ruben’s disappearance, Avo and Mina grow close in his absence. But fate brings the cousins together once more, when Ruben secretly contacts Avo, convincing him to leave Mina and join the extremists—a choice that will dramatically alter the course of their lives.

Left to unravel the threads of this story is Terry “Angel Hair” Krill, a veteran of both the US Navy and the funhouse world of professional wrestling, whose life intersects with Avo, Ruben, and Mina’s in surprising and devastating ways.

Told through alternating perspectives, The Gimmicks is a masterpiece of storytelling. Chris McCormick brilliantly illuminates the impact of history and injustice on ordinary lives and challenges us to confront the spectacle of violence and the specter of its aftermath.

FINALIST for the PULITZER PRIZE
LONG-LISTED for the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
WINNER of the LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE
FINALIST for the NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
FINALIST for the KIRKUS PRIZE
LONG-LISTED for the ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL

TOP 10 NOVELS OF THE YEAR -- TIME, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC, Newsday

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Barnes & Noble, BookPage, BuzzFeed, Elle, Financial Times, Huffington Post, Kirkus, NPR, Refinery29, Seattle Times, Shelf Awareness, WBUR's On Point

"Haslett is one of the country's most talented writers, equipped with a sixth sense for characterization" --Wall Street Journal

"Ambitious and stirring . . . With Imagine Me Gone, Haslett has reached another level." --New York Times Book Review

From a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, a ferociously intimate story of a family facing the ultimate question: how far will we go to save the people we love the most?

When Margaret's fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. At the heart of it is their eldest son, Michael, a brilliant, anxious music fanatic who makes sense of the world through parody. Over the span of decades, his younger siblings -- the savvy and responsible Celia and the ambitious and tightly controlled Alec -- struggle along with their mother to care for Michael's increasingly troubled and precarious existence.

Told in alternating points of view by all five members of the family, this searing, gut-wrenching, and yet frequently hilarious novel brings alive with remarkable depth and poignancy the love of a mother for her children, the often inescapable devotion siblings feel toward one another, and the legacy of a father's pain in the life of a family.

With his striking emotional precision and lively, inventive language, Adam Haslett has given us something rare: a novel with the power to change how we see the most important people in our lives.
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