Duff Brenna

Duff Brenna's novel, The Law of Falling Bodies, is available on Amazon.com.

His story collection, Minnesota Memoirs, is available in print on Amazon.com. E-book versions made be found for Kindle and Nook.

We are pleased to announce that Duff Brenna's short story collection, Minnesota Memoirs, was both the first prize winner in the short story-fiction category and the Second Place Grand Prize Winner for fiction books entered in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

The Law of Falling Bodies

Fifteen-year-old Virgil Foggy is trying to survive on a failing dairy farm in Minnesota. Virgil's mother is pregnant-an unwelcome addition to the family. Virgil's older brother joins the army and goes to war, but warfare is also close to home, much of it between Virgil and his stepfather. The Law of Falling Bodies is a novel about the schizophrenic, ubiquitous, and cyclical nature of all wars within and between men, women, and nations.



I read The Law of Falling Bodies late into the night, cover to cover, all the house lights on,the real “unreal” of where this novel took me refusing, still, all these weeks later, to let loose of me. This is a powerful, bracingly gutsy page-turner about war and innocence, and about the ways in which untamable human desires—and their attendant fantasies—render us both vulnerable and sometimes agonizingly alone. The writing is high-wire-Faulkner gone Fargo—and it is as deeply moving as it is disturbing, as daring and captivating as it is humane, and virtually bursting to life on every page. A triumph!
—Jack Driscoll, author of The World of a Few Minutes Ago

Some of Brenna’s scenes are as delicately detailed as Monet paintings, others so powerfully sensual you may experience olfactory hallucinations. Early on, one of his characters says, “Everything adds up to one big true.” The one big true materializes as Virgil Foggy comes of age in a maelstrom of awakening urges, family brutalities and mysteries, his big brother’s gut-wrenching letters from Vietnam, and the rigors of farm life during the sixties.
—Robert Gover, author of The One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding.

The prose is sweet and rich and sounds like life itself. Virgil Foggy and his family are of the earth, human stalks bracing the weather of existence, discovering truths that are at times too much for the heart to bear. The writing is hypnotic narrative magic, Brenna at his best.
—Greg Herriges, author of JD: A Memoir of a Time and a Journey

The Law of Falling Bodies demonstrates what we already knew about its author: Brenna not only entertains and keeps you on the edge of your chair—he is an artist of the highest order.
—Thomas E. Kennedy, author of The Copenhagen Quartet

Duff Brenna’s The Law of Falling Bodies is an astounding achievement both in language and insight into the medley of human character. What muscle in his prose! Brenna seems to exhale on every page. And yet his characters are never over the top; always unflinchingly believable. This is the kind of novel that has needed to be written, but had to wait until someone with Brenna’s inventiveness and power could pull it off. A bravura performance by one of America’s best talents.
—Michael Lee, Literary Editor of the Cape Cod Voice and amember of the National Book Critics Circle.

On the spectrum between Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road lies Duff Brenna’s The Law of Falling Bodies. This comic novel uses a deep irony and a fine sense of the grotesque to show the home-front casualties caused when old men send young men off to war. It reminds us that Vietnam wasn’t an anomaly in our nation’s history, and it reminds us that recovering from war requires loving the unlovable, doing the unthinkable, and seeing the world with clear and courageous eyes.
—John Rember, author of Sudden Death, Overtime

Duff Brenna’s The Law of Falling Bodies echos with the sensibility of Faulkner. Set in the dirt and guts of contemporary American ruralism, Brenna’s descriptive prose is hauntingly organic and gritty. Brenna’s ear is so fine-tuned to the smallest details of his characters’ lives and chatter, that you begin listening differently to the seemingly insignificant things you too say in your day. Brilliantly, at the edges of his story lurks the political reality of a powerful nation that sacrifices its humans like farm animals. The America in Brenna’s fiction is one that urgently needs to be revealed.
—David Applefield, author of On a Flying Fish and publisher of the Paris-based literary journal Frank

Minnesota Memoirs

Mesmerizing: In 17 riveting stories set in the author’s native Minnesota, Duff Brenna’s edgy tales journey from the mid-19th century to our current 21st century. While capturing the history centered in and around the cities of Medicine Lake, Golden Valley, Anoka, Minneapolis and Mankato, Minnesota Memoirs unfurl a series of unique narratives revealing a transfiguring perception of what it means to be alive in a world that never explains its quiet indifference to all things human. Called “a spectacular talent at crafting complex, believable characters” (Wall Street Journal), “a honed intelligence, unfaltering, unflinching, piercing” (New York Times) and “a master at capturing the helplessness of humans … with tough written all over them” (Los Angeles Times), Brenna’s insights into human nature show us who we are as a species and what we are capable of—our capacities for love and hate, intense desire, sanity, insanity, magnanimity, generosity of spirit and, above all, compassion.



It’s out of vogue to suggest we learn things in aid of our survival by reading literature. But with this new story collection you’ll learn many things, starting with 19 *more *ways of looking at a blackbird, how to hotwire a car (and start an affair); and what “all good Americans who love God and their country” are up to in their passionate, sodden nights and regretful days that follow.

These pages swarm with humanity: Unofficial and unpaid caregivers—the ones who sing to cows, take in unwanted children, and bear witness and give comfort when no one else can be bothered—braggarts, cheats, thieves, failures, mad word-drunk egotists, dope-smoking seniors, and the habitués of a rollicking gay bar. Many of the stories are linked by recurring characters; more importantly, they continually remind us of our essential interconnectedness. Here you’ll find wisdom (“Stay warm. Bless your reveries,” in one of many deft comic touches), cunning, love, frailty, murderousness, and compassion so surprising it takes even the compassionate by surprise.

Duff Brenna’s prose rolls along at a profound pace, unhurried and seeming to touch everything, like a river through a dark landscape. “What I’d like to know is what’s the point?” a character says wonderingly of life. This collection, as with the best art, bears its own answer.

—John Griswold.

Duff Brenna’s one of those storytellers who gets it right in every sentence. A master craftsman’s master craftsman. He’s got miles to go before he’s done building his cabinet of books, but I’ve already bronzed him in my 99th percentile. And what unforgettable characters. If he’d closed up shop after just his first three novels, we’d have close to a dozen Hall-of-Fame candidates on the ballot. Mamie Beaver, John Beaver, Christian Foggy, Shepard, Jasper John, Henry Hank, Godot, Didi Godunov, Fat Stanley, Triple E, and my personal favorite, Helga. The stories that make up Minnesota Memoirs are quintessential Duff. If you know his novels, you’ll recognize scenes and characters. If not, you’re in for a treat of another kind, the best kind, stories that will stay with you because they’re shaped by the best of the best. Remember that when Vernon, twine in hand, sinks his arm to the elbow in Cristobell. Ain’t nobody can birth a calf like Duff Brenna, American treasure.

—Steve Davenport

There is not a better writer of America than Duff Brenna. He understands things about the country that no one else could know without reading his books

—Thomas E. Kennedy

Information about the Author

Duff Brenna is the author of nine books, including The Book of Mamie, which won the AWP Award for Best Novel; The Holy Book of the Beard, named “an underground classic” by The New York Times; Too Cool, a New York Times Noteworthy Book; The Altar of the Body, given the Editors Prize Favorite Book of the Year Award, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and also received a San Diego Writers Association Award for Best Novel 2002. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award, Milwaukee Magazine’s Best Short Story of the Year Award, and a Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention. His work has been translated into six languages. His memoir, Murdering the Mom, is forthcoming from Wordcraft of Oregon, June 2012.


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