Brian Kenneth Swain

Brian Kenneth Swain is author of the novels World Hunger, Alone in the Light, Days End, and Sistina. He also writes short stories and poetry, and is, as well, author of the essay collection The Curious Habits of Man and the poetry collections Secret Places and My America. He has been a featured poet at the Poetry Society of Texas, Houston Poetry Fest (five-time juried poet), Austin International Poetry Festival (juried poet), InPrint, Barnes & Noble, and Borders, as well as on Pacifica and NPR radio. His work has appeared  ...See more >

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Hometown Brunswick, Maine

Favorite author David Mitchell

Favorite book Blood Meridian: Cormac McCarthy

Day job Director of Customer Experience, Vysk Communications

Favorite line from a book So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. (The Great Gatsby)

Favorite word kerfuffle

Unexpected skill or talent Carpentry

Passion in life Writing


Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1491747100
Page count: 298pp

In the centuries-spanning saga from Swain (The Curious Habits of Man: Essays and Effluence, 2013, etc.), a brotherhood of Rome’s most powerful men struggles to keep a secret that could undo Catholicism.

According to the Bible, Jesus rose three days after his Crucifixion and once again walked among the living. The prologue to Swain’s novel paints a different portrait: five of Jesus’ followers—including Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus—form the Guild of the Cloth, which hides Christ’s body and perpetuates the resurrection myth. Successive Guild members guard Jesus’ resting place without any trouble until 1512, when Bishop Galimberti, worried that French invaders might uncover the Guild’s secret, moves the body to a new location without his brethren’s consent. Poisoned soon thereafter, Galimberti leaves the Guild a letter explaining his actions. The name of the new hiding place, he writes, has been inscribed “among the artworks that adorn His Holiness’ sanctuary.” A few chapters later, the novel leaps to 2008, when an earthquake shakes loose plaster fragments from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. As tourists flee the church, antiquarian book dealer Christof von Albrecht makes “the most fateful decision of his life” and steals several pieces of Michelangelo’s masterpiece. Tasked with the chapel’s restoration, a Harvard fresco expert discovers a mysterious message scrawled underneath the ceiling’s plaster—but pieces containing the rest of the message have gone missing. Thus begins a race between the Guild and the Vatican to track down von Albrecht and solve the puzzle Galimberti left behind. Swain crams many of the novel’s early chapters with historical exposition that does little to advance the story: “[It] is an exciting time for [Florence], both politically and creatively, with names like Michelangelo and Machiavelli on the minds and lips of nearly every citizen.” Once the plot gets rolling, however, Swain’s grip never lets up as he deftly unveils each double cross. His prose likewise abandons cliché in favor of rich, haunting descriptions, including monastery walls that “admit heat only grudgingly” and a dead man found with a “pen clutched so fiercely in his twisted hand that the fingers must be broken to release it.”

Once it clears some initial hurdles, Swain’s labyrinthine novel moves effortlessly from each wicked deception to the next.


ALONE IN THE LIGHT (Unpublished)

In Chechnya, a terrible mistake costs a brilliant young engineer his family. In Istanbul, an oil tanker on its maiden voyage sinks for no apparent reason. And in Sochi, a cutting-edge energy facility opens for business. Movlady Saidov is a young man struggling to navigate a tightrope between rage and love, embroiled in a complex web of conspiracy only partly of his own making. His story is fiction, but the technology, the politics, and the tension are as real as the headlines of yesterday's newspaper. This is Swain's most compelling thriller yet, drawing together the seemingly unrelated worlds of cryogenic fuel technology and directed energy weaponry and placing them at the center of a high-stakes game of global geopolitics. It will keep you guessing. It will keep you thinking. It will keep you engrossed until the final climactic moments.
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MY AMERICA: A POEM (Unpublished)

My America is a poem that examines the full range of human experience and emotion in the context of everyday places and images. From urban to rural, from the coasts to the plains, the stories are of ordinary people, their loves, their fears, and their dreams. It is "Winesburg, Ohio" and "On the Road," rolled up in one audacious and unforgettable journey.
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Swain's first poetry collection
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What is the one true secret to weight loss? What is the correct way to make a grilled cheese sandwich? Is the designated hitter rule the salvation of baseball or its undoing? Is it rational to be an optimist? And--the question that haunts us all--should toilet paper unwind over the top of the roll or from underneath? In his first collection of essays, author Brian Kenneth Swain tackles hundreds of life's questions while exploring a vast array of subjects--from tubas to two-year-olds, from field goals to child labor laws, and from high school shop class to the worst round of golf ever played. With an acerbic wit and an honest approach, Swain shares his perspective on such pivotal matters as how to ski without losing a limb or your self-esteem, how to correctly prepare and consume lobster according to Maine standards, and whether marketing ploys hypnotically convince consumers to replace perfectly functioning items without a second thought. Swain encourages a kind of tongue-in-cheek thinking that prompts us to take a second look at the world around us. The Curious Habits of Man shares an amusing glimpse at life as one man contemplates many of our greatest--and smallest--questions.
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Vanguard Corporation, an agricultural company led by a greedy and mercurial CEO, has developed a new line of genetically modified seed products. Designed to significantly increase crop yields and resist drought, pests, and disease in the hopes of reducing hunger in Third World countries, the seeds should also earn huge profits for the firm. Vanguard's testing in Belarus, Colombia, and India initially goes well, but midway through the crops' development, reports begin to emerge of bizarre insect observations linked to incidents of domestic animal slaughter and, eventually, the death of several people. The high-growth genetic enhancements engineered into the insects have been transferred into the insects through their ingestion of the test crops. The strains of these "super" insects are much larger, more aggressive, and increasingly resistant to pesticides and disease than their natural counterparts. As the insects become more plentiful and widespread, Vanguard desperately combats them while dealing with the media, environmentalists, the government, and other distractions. Meanwhile, scientists, entomologists, and field operatives frantically work together to eradicate the new species and deal with the fallout of mankind's apathy toward environmental meddling.

ISBN: 978-0-595-68625-4
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