Friday, March 30, 2012

What is Peter Behrens reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Peter Behrens, author of The O'Briens and The Law of Dreams.

His entry begins:
I spend winters in Marfa, Texas and while here have been digging into the history of the West. I'm reading a series of books about Western characters so draped in mythology that the real, historical people have almost disappeared. To Hell on a Fast Horse by Mark Lee Gardner is "the untold story" of Pat Garret and Billy the Kid. It's a good book because Gardner has done his research, knows the West, and places Billy in the context of his geography and his times. Billy is one of those figures who tremble on the cusp of our era: though he possesses undoubted talents (shooting, riding) he's very much a mass-media creation--the New York dailies loved him. He's kind of the Lady Gaga of his day. "Is there a there, there?" to Billy? Born in NYC he grew up in a series of raw one-horse mining and ranching towns in the West. He's illiterate, charming, buck-toothed, and mostly unknown. In his teenage years he's involved in gangstah-style activity in eastern New Mexico---The Lincoln County War---which is all about power, local politics, machismo, and (cattle) business. Billy is basically a gun for hire, a...[read on]
About The O'Briens, from the publisher:
An unforgettable saga of love, loss, and exhilarating change spanning half a century in the lives of a restless family, from the author of the acclaimed novel The Law of Dreams.

The O’Briens is a family story unlike any told before, a tale that pours straight from the heart of a splendid, tragic, ambitious clan. In Joe O’Brien—grandson of a potato-famine emigrant, and a backwoods boy, railroad magnate, patriarch, brooding soul—Peter Behrens gives us a fiercely compelling man who exchanges isolation and poverty in the Canadian wilds for a share in the dazzling riches and consuming sorrows of the twentieth century.

When Joe meets Iseult Wilkins in Venice, California, the story of their courtship—told in Behrens’s gorgeous, honed style—becomes the first movement in a symphony of the generations. Husband and wife, brothers, sisters-in-law, children and grandchildren, the O’Briens engage unselfconsciously with their century, and we experience their times not as historical tableaux but as lives passionately lived. At the heart of this clan—at the heart of the novel—is mystery and madness grounded in the history of Irish sorrow. The O’Briens is the story of a man, a marriage, and a family, told with epic precision and wondrous imagination.
Read more about the novel and author at Peter Behrens' website.

The Page 69 Test: The Law of Dreams.

My Book, The Movie: The Law of Dreams.

Writers Read: Peter Behrens.

--Marshal Zeringue