Books by Brian Morton

Released: Sept. 23, 2014

"Always a pleasure to read for his well-drawn characters, quiet insight and dialogue that crackles with wit, Morton here raises his own bar in all three areas. He also joins a sadly small club of male writers who have created memorable heroines."
Unexpected celebrity and long-absent family members distract a heroically cantankerous 1960s-era activist in the summer of 2009 as she reluctantly confronts the challenges of age. Read full book review >
PRINCE by Brian Morton
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

"It's lonely out there for sui generis eccentric geniuses—luckily, gifted writers like Morton are able to bring them a little closer to us."
Cogent analysis of The Artist Currently Known as Prince. Read full book review >
BREAKABLE YOU by Brian Morton
Released: Sept. 5, 2006

"Precisely observed characters, keen prose and a sure sense of how we simultaneously complicate and survive our lives make this one something special."
The pressures of the examined life reshape priorities and relationships among an expanding and contracting extended family of urban intellectuals. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

"A modest tale of quiet sincerity, good-natured and freshly narrated, but it needs more bite than Morton's dull characters can provide."
Morton (Starting Out in the Evening, 1998, etc.) describes the complicated emotional life of a writer who cannot resist putting her friends into her stories. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1998

A sharp, sad portrait of the vagaries of the literary life. Schiller, the author of four well-received but long out-of- print novels, a tidy, precise, ironic figure, and a man consumed much of his life by the need to pursue the ``perfection of the work,'' has long since given up on any real hope of visibility when a young woman seeks him out. Heather, just 24, is writing her master's thesis on Schiller's slender body of work. Ambitious, blithely self-centered, she views Schiller as a useful crusade, a way of forcing herself onto the academic and publishing scenes. The elderly Schiller, left fragile and exhausted by a series of brushes with mortality, is at first wary of her, bemused by the idea of anyone paying much attention to what he views as a failed career. Her insistent presence also prods he into coming to grips with the guilt and regret he has stored up about his life, including the early death of his wife, and the hectic, unfocused life of Ariel, his middle-aged daughter. Almost inevitably, Schiller finds himself falling in love with the seemingly worshipful Heather, an emotion she encourages, with predictably dire results. Schiller is moved to begin again on a novel long set aside, and Heather imagines that she will be the muse inspiring the creation of his greatest work. Then Schiller has a stroke and, in a series of terse, acerbic scenes, Morton deftly strips away the illusions these characters have spun about their lives. Ariel finds a measure of independence and maturity and, in a nicely rendered interlude, a chance at genuine romance. Heather's lies and manipulations catch up with her, though her exposure does not necessarily alter her behavior. And Schiller, near death, begins to reach some measure of peace. Second-novelist Morton (The Dylanist, 1991) believably anatomizes the yearnings (and furies) that fuel the literary life, and in Schiller he has shaped a sad, wry portrait of the writer as a deluded but decent—and ultimately rather noble—Everyman. Read full book review >
THE DYLANIST by Brian Morton
Released: Aug. 28, 1991

Dissent editor Morton's first novel—a smooth, eloquent, but thoroughly unsatisfying tale of a red-diaper baby who comes of age. Sally Burke is a clever and perceptive girl who suffers a tremendous confusion. The daughter of fiercely committed left-wing activists—her mother a radical freethinker, her father a communist union-organizer—she finds little comfort in their political certainties, but cannot see any plausible way of rebelling against them. So she drifts on, unhappily uncommitted, increasingly depressed, and preternaturally (if rather endearingly) cynical. At school, where she finds herself surrounded by classmates who define themselves through their ambitions, she feels ``roadless.'' At home, growing up in an environment where virtue is equated with sacrifice, she doubts her ability to love. ``Sally knew an eagle had been implanted in her skull and was struggling to break free,'' but, lacking her parents' certitude and her friends' confidence, she feels earthbound and listless. Her sympathies are engaged first by Owen, a young writer whose simplicity and helplessness provide her with an object of devotion—but she is eventually worn down by his childishness. Ben McMahon, her next lover, is another unionizer who recognizes Sally's quandary: she is a ``Dylanist,'' a wanderer for whom feelings and experience are ends in themselves. Through her father's death she gains an awareness of mortality, and concludes that she can continue his struggle in domestic (rather than political) terms by raising a family of her own. This salvation-through-motherhood approach has a hollow ring, however, and seems a forced solution to an unresolved problem. A nicely written tale that badly wants a climax—so badly, in fact, that the author settles for an ending that doesn't fit the story. Enjoyable but seriously flawed. Read full book review >