Barefoot to Avalon: A Brother's Story

David Payne (Author)

Product Details

$16.00  $14.72
Grove Press
Publish Date
August 09, 2016
5.4 X 0.9 X 8.2 inches | 0.9 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

David Payne is the author of five novels, including Confessions of a Taoist on Wall Street, winner of the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award, Ruin Creek, a New York Times Notable Book, and Back to Wando Passo. Payne has taught at Bennington, Duke, Hollins and is a founding faculty member in the Queens University MFA Program.


An IndieNext Pick, An Amazon Best Book of August 2015

A SIBA Bestseller


"This is a brave book with beautiful sentences on every page, but there's nothing showy about it. Mr. Payne writes with the intensity and urgency of a man trying to save his own life."--Carmela Ciuraru, The New York Times

"Burns starkly and powerfully...a book that is, as much as anything, a study in the power of inexhaustible the best memoirs, it's about something far harder to pin down, something unspecific and ineffable in the way time moves and lives fade, the moments that none of us can get back....Payne's writing is loose, confident and snappy, and he has a rare ability to distill enormous scope into a single sentence, sometimes a single image...[Payne] gives us the ambiguities of real life, a story that is sometimes hard to take, but always worth it."--Lucas Mann, San Francisco Chronicle

"Piercing...a tour de force."--David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

"Intense, painful, and beautifully rendered...The story is built like a labyrinth. Memories and experiences are pathways leading into and out of others, deftly moving the reader forward and back in time...That David cuts himself no slack, and boldly, unflinchingly tells his own faulty story is remarkable."--Patricia Ann McNair, Washington Independent Review of Books

"Powerful . . . a deep examination of many sorrows."--People

"A superhonest, affecting personal narrative; Payne writes about his childhood, his parents, and his career with a novelist's sensitivity to detail."

"A masterpiece of nonfiction... From the first page, Payne's evocative, often poetic prose will put you under its spell... it will be the rare reader who does not see something of his or her own experiences in this perceptive, beautiful and passionate memoir."--Linda C. Brinson, Greensboro News & Record

"... stylistic bravura... what gives these biographical particulars their existential wallop is Payne's raw, sustained intensity. Reading Payne can feel like a near-physical experience, of being swept along by sinister forces that in different ages have gone by such names as original sin, melancholia, madness, and most recently, brain chemistry."--John Murawski, News & Observer

"A memoir as raw, intimate and courageous as a series of midnight confessions fueled by a bottle of vodka... [Payne's] barefoot journey, every brave and bloody step over broken glass, shows how even the darkest emotions and deepest wounds can yield to love."--Gina Webb, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Payne explores his family and all its troubled relationships and history, striking universal notes that will hit you where you live... Not since William Styron's 1951 debut novel "Lie Down in Darkness" has there been a more eloquent, courageous depiction."--The Winston-Salem Journal

"Powerful, gripping, raw and tender."--The News & Observer

"David Payne goes to the bone in his deeply felt Barefoot to Avalon"--Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

"Riveting family history [asks] complex questions about social prestige, mental health, and the ties that bind...powerful."--Kirkus Reviews

"Moving...there's a novelistic intensity to the story, with Payne dwelling on vivid recollected scenes, recreating their atmospherics and teasing out every buried emotional tremor and element of foreshadowing, but his prose also has the rawness of a confessional...Writing with a mixture of clear-eyed realism and lyrical elegy, Payne shows how a family's pain, resentment, and loss get transmuted into love."--Publishers Weekly

"Barefoot to Avalon is simply magnificent. The book has the feeling of nothing at all reserved, a kind of go for broke passion. In this complete commitment it steps across a normal threshold between reader and book. It has because of this a powerful healing effect of a very strange, unusual kind. Reading it has been a huge experience."--Suzannah Lessard

"Barefoot to Avalon is one of the most powerful and penetrating memoirs I've ever read; it is fiercely honest, deeply engaging, and utterly heartbreaking."--Jay McInerney

"The tangled ties of adult siblings are one of the most underexplored themes in literature. In Barefoot to Avalon, David Payne transforms the story of a brother's death into a potent and heartbreaking meditation on love and loss and the long climb out of grief."--Jenny Offil

"An elegy to a brother that plumbs depths beyond depths -- a fever-dream of a memoir, a blazing map of familial love and loss, headlong and heartbreaking and gorgeously written."--James Kaplan

"A major achievement and a whole new standard for memoir--Barefoot to Avalon is brave and brilliant, deep and true. Payne has tried to get the whole universe on the head of a pin, and done a fine job of it."--Lee Smith

"A brother's tragic death is at the heart of this memoir, but David Payne transcends the troubled relationship between his brother and himself to achieve something more--a compelling study of the inextricable link between the families we are born into and those that we try to create. Barefoot to Avalon is clear-eyed and unsentimental, which makes it all the more powerful and, ultimately, unforgettable."--Ron Rash