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by Kennedy, Randy

Set in the 1970s in Texas, 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 works as a solitary car thief. He returns home to help his younger brother, Harlan, search for his wife, who has run away with the little money he had. The brothers steal a station wagon for the journey and accidentally kidnap Martha Zacharias, a Mennonite girl asleep in the back of the car. She stubornly refuses to be sent home so, together, the three unlikely 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, gorgeously written scenes about the soul of the American West, this novel packs a powerful punch of dark humor, pathos, and suspense.

Randy Kennedy was born in San Antonio, Texas to a telephone lineman and as a teachers' aide. He was educated at the University of Texas at Austin, moved to New York City and worked for twenty-five years as a staff member and writer for The New York Times. A collection of his city columns, Subwayland, was published in 2004. He is the director of special projects for an international art gallery and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two children.

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"...a fluent, mordant, authentic, propulsive narrative, wonderfully lit from within by an intriguing main character...This is his first novel and it left me hoping he writes many more...All of the above would make for a happy recommendation, but I haven't gotten to the best part yet, which is Troy Alan Falconer, Kennedy's main character...Inevitably, he'll be called a car thief. But he isn't really. Or not only, or not deliberately. He's a sensitive soul, at times bitterly cynical, at times charmingly naïve, always courteous, in the grip of a desperate compulsion to own nothing at all...Kennedy was betting you'd read on. You should."

Review: Lee Child in The New York Times

"Two estranged brothers and an unexpected passenger embark on a road trip through Texas to recover stolen money in this strong debut. Kennedy has a fertile imagination he lets drift into many beguiling detours, and the writing sparkles throughout."

Review: Kirkus

"Stunning....Kennedy is a masterful landscape builder, with descriptions so sharp it's hard not to taste the gas fumes."

Review: Interview Magazine

"Randy Kennedy writes wonderful prose. He combines the detail and eye of a journalist with the lyricism of a poet. If you want to read about the real deal down in Texas, he's your man."

Quote: James Lee Burke

"Here is a rich and rare book. Reader, if you like poor Texas boys gone bad (or not bad enough), landscapes so accurate in detail you feel you grew up there, coldly logical Mennonite girls with outcast Manitoban-Mexican papas, magnetic details about old cars, the finer points of an automobile-thieving, and a magisterial use of italics you will want to read this novel through twice in a row as I did. It is a hard picture of the choices offered to poor Texas youths in the 1960s and '70s. You might say it shakes out as a weird combination of Canterbury Tales,Breaking Bad and la recherche du temps perdu with a dash of Confederacy of Dunces, but it is brilliantly original. You will laugh, you will cry and you will read it again straight through to enjoy the fine points of marvelous writing. There is nothing out there like Presidio."

Quote: Annie Proulx

"Like a herding rope, the plot unfolds in taut scenes juxtaposed with wonderful loops of description, flashback, and spare dialogue that occasionally swells into flashes of revelation, all of it grounded in a palpable sense of place."

Review: Vogue

"In this stellar debut....Kennedy soberly etches a Texas landscape of violence and despair as vividly as anything by Larry McMurtry."

Review: Publishers Weekly

"Presidiois set in what I think of as Max Crawford Countrythe bleak dreamscape around the edges of the Caprock, where life is, to say the leastgritty.Randy Kennedy captures the funny yet tragic relentlessness of survival in an unforgiving place.Let's hope he keeps his novelistic cool and brings us much, much more."

Quote: Larry McMurtry

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