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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

Money, Love, by Brad Barkley

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Money, Love, by Brad Barkley

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Money, Love, by Brad Barkley

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Ever since sixteen-year-old Gabe Strickland can remember, his father, Roman, has believed in the sale: that magical moment on the customer’s porch, the deal about to close. But with each dizzying success comes an equally memorable failure, and Gabe’s mother, Gladys, has grown tired of waiting for a life of financial stability. So in the summer of 1975, she leaves Roman and goes to live with his dependable brother Dutch. Confident he can win Gladys back, Roman pins all his hopes on a barnstorming tour of Southern carnivals, hawking tickets for “Death Cars of Celebrities.” Gabe finds his own truth somewhere between Roman’s quixotic dreaming and Gladys’s newfound stability, and he learns that love is, ultimately, the one thing that can’t be bought or sold.


From The Washington Post

“[A novel] filled to the brim with fall-down funny scenes and vividly etched, unforgettable characters.”

From Publishers Weekly

Barkley's sweetly comic debut novel (following a collection of short stories, Circle View) is a coming-of-age story tied to the motif of American ambition and failure. Set in North Carolina in 1975 (in the aftermath of Nixon resignation), the theme is personified in the character of traveling salesman Roman Strickland, a kind of happy-go-lucky Willlie Loman. Narrator Gabe Strickland, Roman's 16-year-old son, has watched his family muddle through so many financial crises he no longer worries when his father blows a big assignment. Gabe knows that, somehow, his parents' love and Roman's tenacity will see them through. But when Roman lands in jail for refusing to take no for an answer, wife Gladys has finally had enough. Tired of the uncertainty of a salesman's paycheck, she bails Roman out, then simply bails, moving in with his brother (and arch rival) Dutch, a dependable, successful car dealer. The tale centers on Roman's extravagant, misguided attempts to win Gladys back, from a poetry contest rigged to ensure that Gladys will place first, to a successful traveling roadshow of Celebrity Death Cars, intended to impress Gladys, featuring Gabe dressed as James Dean and Dutch's beauty-queen ex-wife dressed as Jayne Mansfield. Roman believes that money equals love (the book's title comes from a Howlin' Wolf lyric that concludes ,"No money, no love"), and he's convinced Gladys will return once he's as rich as Dutch. Despite the eccentric cast of characters, it is Roman himself who emerges as the book's most iconic figure, always optimistic and always tragically behind the times. Gabe struggles to find his own equilibrium, somewhere between Roman's colorfully romantic philosophy and Dutch's sturdy pragmatism. Despite a tendency to draw his characters with broad strokes, predicting Gabe's choice to seek some middle ground between Roman and Dutch, Barkley's entertaining story provides humor and poignancy in equal measure. (July) 
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Gabe Strickland is the 16-year-old narrator of this wacky, offbeat first novel about a dysfunctional family. He is determined to get his salesman father, Roman, back together with his long-suffering mother, Gladys. Gabe's father is a very likable characterDhe is passionate about his profession and loves both his wife and son deeply. Unfortunately, he also has a fondness for get-rich-quick schemes and stubbornly refuses to take a job that would provide the family with a steady income. The novel centers on Roman's comic and wildly improbable schemes to win Gladys back. This is a novel rich in detail and character (Seventies music, vintage cars, Miss North Carolina 1970), but it is not without its weaknesses. The plotting, even for a comic novel, occasionally strains credulity, and Gabe's dawning appreciation for the complexities of adulthood might be more fully realized. Overall, however, this is an enjoyable read. Recommended for libraries with large fiction collections.

 D Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT 
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Brad Barkley grew up in North Carolina where he still visits a few times a year. After that, he lived on the coast of Maryland, the mountains of Arkansas, the coast of North Carolina (again), and the mountains of Maryland (again). A pattern emerges. Besides Scrambled Eggs At Midnight, he is the author of two novels and two story collections for adults. He has also co-authored, with Heather Hepler, Dream Factory and Jars of Glass. To learn more about his work, please visit