Book picks similar to
Fender Lizards by Joe R. Lansdale


fiction
young-adult
coming-of-age
crime

Arkansas


John Brandon - 2008
    There are the days: the dappled grounds, the aimless yardwork, the hours in the booth giving directions to families in SUVs. And then there are the nights: crisscrossing the South with illicit goods, the shifty deals in dingy trailers, the vague orders from a boss they've never met. Before Kyle and Swin can recognize how close to paradise they are in this neglected state park in southern Arkansas, the lazy peace is shattered with a shot. Night blends into day. Dead bodies. Crooked superiors. Suspicious associates. It's on-the-job training, with no time for slow learning, bad judgment, or foul luck.

The Domino Effect


Andrew Cotto - 2011
    A series of painful defeats have left him scarred and isolated from his neighborhood, his parents, and, most significantly, the benevolent ways of his childhood when he was known as “Domino.” With great insight, imagery and wit, Danny recalls his past in Queens and his coming-of-age at Hamden Academy. This fast paced and powerful story is rich with conflict, humor, tenderness and music—just like life, especially when coming-of-age.

The Death of Sweet Mister


Daniel Woodrell - 2001
    Like Holden Caulfield and Huck Finn, Shuggie Akins tells his story of a reluctant descent into the world of adults in this unforgettable and ultimately moving novel.

A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better


Benjamin Wood - 2018
    One August morning in 1995, the young Daniel and his estranged father Francis – a character of ‘two weathers’, of irresistible charm and roiling self-pity – set out on a road trip to the North that seems to represent a chance to salvage their relationship. But with every passing mile, the layers of Fran’s mendacity and desperation are exposed, pushing him to acts of violence that will define the rest of his son’s life.

Ostrich


Matt Greene - 2013
    But he doesn’t know exactly what it’s about yet, so you probably shouldn’t either. Instead, here are some things that it’s sort of about (but not really): It’s sort of (but not really) about brain surgery. It’s sort of (but not really) about a hamster named Jaws 2 (after the original Jaws (who died), not the movie Jaws 2). It’s sort of (but actually quite a lot) about Alex’s parents. It’s sort of (but not really) about feeling ostrichized (which is a better word for excluded (because ostriches can’t fly so they often feel left out)). It’s sort of (but not really (but actually, the more you think about it, kind of a lot)) about empathy (which is like sympathy only better), and also love and trust and fate and time and quantum mechanics and friendship and exams and growing up. And it’s also sort of about courage. Because sometimes it actually takes quite a lot of it to bury your head in the sand.

Grow Up


Ben Brooks - 2011
    Expensive things in shops. Jelly that is not ready to eat yet. Cigarette lighters. Necks. Dead Things. Dogs. Piercings. Toddlers' cheeks. Each other's knees. People also like to touch death.Jasper wants to get on in the world, but he's got a lot on his plate: A-levels, his mother pushing him to overachieve, weekly visits to his psychologist, comedowns, YouTube suicides and pregnant one-night-stands. Then there's his stepdad - the murderer.Hilarious and heartbreaking by turns, Grow Up is the ultimate twenty-first-century coming-of-age novel. It paints a vivid portrait of the pills and thrills and bellyaches of growing up today. Funny, smart and twisted, it is the story of one young man transformed.

Skipped Parts


Tim Sandlin - 1991
    In 1963, 13-year-old Sam Callahan and his tart-tongued, divorced, misbehavingmother, Lydia, must cope as best they can after they are banished to the hicktown of GroVont, Wyoming, by Lydia's Southern gentleman father.

Budding Prospects: A Pastoral


T. Coraghessan Boyle - 1984
    But they haven't reckoned on nosy Northern California-style neighbors, torrential rain, demands of the flesh, and Felix's improbable new love, a wayward sculptress on whose behalf he undertakes a one-man vendetta against a drug-busting state trooper named Jerpbak. As their deal escalates through crises into nightmare, their dreams of easy money get nipped in the bud.

Dogrun


Arthur Nersesian - 2000
    but soon mary realized that primo's silence in front of the tv set was more than just one of his bad moods: primo was actually dead. other guys had abandoned mary before,but primo's exit was by far the most unique. and suddenly mary's life -- defined so far by a string of temp jobs and unfinished short stories -- takes off on a tantalizing adventure as she follows a trail of primo's ex-lovers. arthur nersesian, who created a howling new york odyssey in his smash hit the fuck-up, captures the spirit of the city itself -- jolting and full of surprise -- in this powerful new novel edged with black humor and poignancy.

Lay It on My Heart


Angela Pneuman - 2014
    Charmaine and her mother get along better with a room between them, but they've been forced by circumstances to relocate to a tiny trailer by the river. The last of a line of local holy men, Charmaine's father has turned from prophet to patient, his revelation lost in the clarifying haze of medication. Her sure-minded grandmother has suffered a stroke. At church, where she has always felt most certain, Charmaine is tested when she finds out that her archrival, a sanctimonious missionary kid, carries a dark, confusing secret. Suddenly her life can be sorted into what she wishes she knew and what she wishes she didn't.A moving, hilarious portrait of mothers and daughters, Lay It on My Heart brings us into the center of a family weathering the toughest patch of their lives. But most of all, it marks out the seemingly unbearable realities of growing up, the strength that comes from finding real friendship, and the power of discovering—and accepting—who you are.

Nocilla Dream


Agustín Fernández Mallo - 2006
    Further along U.S. Route 50, a lonely prostitute falls in love with a collector of found photographs. In Las Vegas, an Argentine man builds a peculiar monument to Jorge Luis Borges. On the run from the authorities, Kenny takes up permanent residence in the legal non-place of Singapore International Airport. These are some of the narrative strands that make up this arborescently structured novel, hailed as one of the most daring experiments in Spanish literature of recent years. Full of references to indie cinema, collage, conceptual art, practical architecture, the history of computers and the decadence of the novel, Nocilla Dream finds great beauty in emptiness and reveals something essential about contemporary experience.

Red Weather


Pauls Toutonghi - 2006
    The year is 1989.Revolutions are sweeping through the nations of the Eastern Bloc. Communism is unraveling. And nobody feels this unraveling more piquantly than Yuri Balodis—a fifteen-year-old first-generation American living with his Latvian-immigrant parents in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.It’s a turbulent time. And when Yuri falls in love with Hannah Graham—the daring daughter of a prominent local socialist—chaos ensues. Within weeks, Yuri is ensnared by both Hannah and socialism. He joins the staff of the Socialist Worker. He starts quoting Lenin and Marx indiscriminately.His parents, of course, are horrified and deeply saddened. They try to educate him, to show him why, in their opinion, communism has ruined so many lives. But Yuri is stubborn. And his ideological betrayal will have more serious consequences than breaking his parents’ hearts.Red Weather is by turns funny and bittersweet, tinged with a rueful comic sense that will instantly remind you of the absurd complications of love. Pauls Toutonghi’s stunning debut novel is at once reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.From the Hardcover edition.

A Smuggler's Bible


Joseph McElroy - 1966
    Driven by despairs as terrible as they are comic, David Brooke sets out to "project" himself into the lives of other people. One may wonder what ties connect the figures whose diverse experiences are conjured up by Brooke's uncanny necromancy, what are the sad or bizarre or lunatic strands that draw together characters as disparate as the endearing monster Duke Amerchrome, the controlled Oxonian Harry Tindall, reserved English bookseller Peter St. John, and Brooke's own detached father, among others. Gradually there emerges an intricate and fascinating pattern of meaning, at the heart of which lies a single metaphor that in a thousand ways tells us who we are.

The Motel Life


Willy Vlautin - 2006
    With "echoes of Of Mice and Men" (The Bookseller, UK), The Motel Life explores the frustrations and failed dreams of two Nevada brothers — on the run after a hit-and-run accident — who, forgotten by society, and short on luck and hope, desperately cling to the edge of modern life.

I Do Not Come to You by Chance


Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani - 2009
    Being the opara of the family, Kingsley Ibe is entitled to certain privileges--a piece of meat in his egusi soup, a party to celebrate his graduation from university. As first son, he has responsibilities, too. But times are bad in Nigeria, and life is hard. Unable to find work, Kingsley cannot take on the duty of training his younger siblings, nor can he provide his parents with financial peace in their retirement. And then there is Ola. Dear, sweet Ola, the sugar in Kingsley's tea. It does not seem to matter that he loves her deeply; he cannot afford her bride price. It hasn't always been like this. For much of his young life, Kingsley believed that education was everything, that through wisdom, all things were possible. Now he worries that without a "long-leg"--someone who knows someone who can help him--his degrees will do nothing but adorn the walls of his parents' low-rent house. And when a tragedy befalls his family, Kingsley learns the hardest lesson of all: education may be the language of success in Nigeria, but it's money that does the talking. Unconditional family support may be the way in Nigeria, but when Kingsley turns to his Uncle Boniface for help, he learns that charity may come with strings attached. Boniface--aka Cash Daddy--is an exuberant character who suffers from elephantiasis of the pocket. He's also rumored to run a successful empire of email scams. But he can help. With Cash Daddy's intervention, Kingsley and his family can be as safe as a tortoise in its shell. It's up to Kingsley now to reconcile his passion for knowledge with his hunger for money, and to fully assume his role of first son. But can he do it without being drawn into this outlandish mileu?