Dust

Summer Brenner

 

ISBN 978-1-959556-46-6       280 pages        $20.00

 

In this Boomer memoir, Driving Miss Daisy meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. With lilting eloquence, Summer Brenner captures the tumultuous fifties and sixties of a genteel Jewish family in Atlanta, with the South’s oppressive segregation and anti-Semitism. The family drama is fraught: the brother is a schizophrenic, the mother a Gucci-clad Medusa, and the father a suicide. After extensive travels, Brenner frees herself in the Bay Area to become “more beatnik than debutante.” Framed by historic events, this is the moving coming-of-age story of a generation.

     James Nolan, author of Flight Risk: Memoirs of a New Orleans Bad Boy

 

My life has been just a little bit enlightened by meeting David, Summer Brenner’s brother and the ultimate subject of this poignant memoir. Through her words I feel that I’ve come to know the man, his idiosyncrasies, his charm, his knack for breaking an awkward silence with sudden bursts of song. When the book was finished I felt as if I’d lost someone close, someone I used to know as a child, reintroduced in his dying days. In learning to know David, I feel like I know a little bit more about Summer, too. Her story is a great tribute, though sometimes harsh as honesty often is, to her father, mother, brother and the people she came to meet in a life centered in the beating heart of a bygone era.

     Stephen Jay Schwartz, Los Angeles Times bestselling author of Boulevard and Beat

 

I spent the holidays in Georgia and decided to read DUST straight through, the whole thing, sitting beside the river that cuts across the land near my father's little shack in the woods. It is, truly, a beautiful and marvelous book. The writing is powerful and polished; in places it almost feels liturgical in its careful and incisive repetition. And what a joy to also learn about a Georgia that simultaneously felt so familiar and so distinct from the one I grew up in. And about your own ambivalences with your mother, your brother, your father. I cannot begin to tell you what a gift it was.

     Levi Vonk, author of Border Hacker: A Tale of Treachery, Trafficking, and Two Friends on the Run

 

Brenner is clear-eyed and unsparing in her portrayals of her family, herself, and the many characters whom she encounters. Tenderness is reserved for her brother whom she tries to help as he descends into paranoid schizophrenia. It’s not easy to read this book yet it rises above the personal as a compelling chronicle of a time and place in the mid-20th century world.

     Tom Weidlinger, The Restless Hungarian, Modernism, Madness and the American Dream

Michael Weber

Summer Brenner was raised in Georgia and migrated east first to New England and Europe, and then west to New Mexico and eventually Berkeley where she has been a long-time resident. She has published a dozen works of fiction, poetry, and novels for youth. Her papers are available in Special Collections at the University of Delaware.