Hold It 'Til It Hurts by T. Geronimo Johnson

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Finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award

"The magnificence of Hold It 'Til It Hurts is not only in the prose and the story but also in the book's great big beating heart. These complex and compelling characters and the wizardry of Johnson's storytelling will dazzle and move you from first page to last. Novels don't teach us how to live but Hold It 'Til It Hurts will make you hush and wonder."--Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

"This rich and sophisticated first novel brings together pleasures rarely found in one book: Hold It 'Til It Hurts is a novel about war that goes in search of passionate love, a dreamy thriller, a sprawling mystery, a classical quest for a lost brother in which the shadowy quarry is clearly the seeker’s own self, and a meditation on family and racial identity that makes its forerunners in American fiction look innocent by comparison."--Jaimy Gordon, National Book Award winner for Lord of Misrule



When Achilles Conroy and his brother Troy return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, their white mother presents them with the key to their past: envelopes containing details about their respective birth parents. After Troy disappears, Achilles--always his brother’s keeper--embarks on a harrowing journey in search of Troy, an experience that will change him forever.

Heartbreaking, intimate, and at times disturbing, Hold It ’Til It Hurts is a modern-day odyssey through war, adventure, disaster, and love, and explores how people who do not define themselves by race make sense of a world that does.



T. Geronimo Johnson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Best New American Voices, Indiana Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Illuminations, among others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Johnson teaches writing at the University of California-Berkeley. Hold It 'Til It Hurts is his first book.
 

About T. Geronimo Johnson

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T. Geronimo Johnson was born in New Orleans. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Best New American Voices, Indiana Review, LA Review, and Illuminations, among others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, Johnson currently teaches writing at University of California-Berkeley. Hold It 'Til It Hurts is his first book.
 
Published August 9, 2012 by Coffee House Press. 347 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Parenting & Relationships. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Hold It 'Til It Hurts

Kirkus Reviews

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It is 2004, and Achilles and Troy Conroy return home to once-rural, now McMansion-ed, Maryland after tours in the same airborne infantry squad in “Goddamnistan.” The brothers expect a surprise party, but the surprise is that their father had been killed in an auto accident just as they began tran...

Aug 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Hold It 'Til It Hurts

Publishers Weekly

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This powerful, stylish debut novel from New Orleans native and former Stegner fellow Johnson concerns a 22-year-old black man adopted and raised by a white couple who is trying to make sense and order

Jun 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Hold It 'Til It Hurts

Examiner

With his newly released chronicle of the search for a lost brother by a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Hold It ‘Til it Hurts, T, Geronimo Johnson is “writing against both the Horatio Alger myth and what Toni Morrison rightly calls the ‘manipulation of African narrative .

Aug 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Hold It 'Til It Hurts

Star Tribune

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Johnson takes the reader on a vivid tour of New Orleans as he reveals the pleasures and pitfalls of a homecoming.

Sep 08 2012 | Read Full Review of Hold It 'Til It Hurts

Fiction Writers Review

As if issues of war, race, and family aren’t enough—these characters are (black) brothers who return from serving in Afghanistan after their (white) adoptive father’s death only to learn more about their birth parents—Hurricane Katrina is apparently part of this story, too.

Aug 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Hold It 'Til It Hurts

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