for The Late Matthew Brown
"Matthew Brown, an associate director from a family of government bureaucrats, has followed in his grandfather's footsteps, finding early success in the State Department of Corrections. His career is empty, repetitive, but filled with tradition. Into this world comes Hero, like a blaze of truth, a long-lost daughter to teach him who he really is, what he might become. Beautifully observed and filled, with lush images and surprising characters, The Late Matthew Brown presents a new voice in Southern Literature—Paul Ketzle, who knows how to lay down a sentence like a poem and work a paragraph with intrigue until it reveals the yearnings of a character's heart."
The Late Matthew Brown chronicles the travails of a Southern bureaucrat who finds himself at the mercy of Hero, the daughter produced in a tryst he only vaguely remembers. Hero shows up twelve years later, a preternaturaly old-soul kid prone to arcane pronouncements and correcting her baffled father, who can only wonder at her power. I was reminded of the Sharon Olds poem, “The Only Girl at the Boys Party,” the way Hero stands alone, implacable and serene amidst a world of men trying desperately to make the math of life work. As the father of a young girl, I saw a glimpse of my future both harrowing and joyous. Paul Ketzle has written a sort of melancholy paean to fatherhood fused with a biting satire about the New South and its denizens with this ambitious debut novel.
—MATT BONDURANT, author of
"The Late Matthew Brown fuses bureaucratic satire and domestic comedy as its hero proves himself late in myriad ways: late to fatherhood, late to self-discovery, and technically dead due to a paperwork glitch. It’s rare to see a story that faces this universal truth: to do nothing is also to do something, usually a drastic mistake. In this novel it takes a sass-mouthed tweenie whose very name is Hero to prove the point. Funny, touching, true -- a delightful read."