Excerpt from Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Take This Man

A Memoir

by Brando Skyhorse

Take This Man
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2014, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2015, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Take This Man
Introduction

I was three years old when my father abandoned me and my mother in my grandmother's house atop a crooked hill on Portia Street in a Los Angeles neighborhood called Echo Park. My mother, Maria Teresa, a Mexican who wanted to be an American Indian, transformed me into Brando Skyhorse, a full-blooded American Indian brave. I became the son of Paul Skyhorse Johnson, an American Indian activist incarcerated for armed robbery who my mother met through the mail. She became Running Deer Skyhorse, a full-blooded "squaw" who traded in her most common of Mexican names for the most stereotypical of Indian ones.

My mother was mesmerizing and could make crazy schemes and lies sound electric and honest. Her deception was so good, or so obvious, she fooled each of her five husbands, our neighbors, her friends, my elementary school vice principal, even me. I lived most of my childhood without knowing who I really was. All I knew was the power in my own name: "Brando Skyhorse? That's beautiful."

My biological father, Candido Ulloa (oooh-YO-ahh), was replaced by a chain of boyfriends and five fathers—one new dad about every three years. Along with Paul, whom I first met while he was in prison, there was Robert, a restless, habitual Aleutian Indian thief; Pat, a restaurant chef with a penchant for disappearing; Rudy, a man who answered a singles ad from a homeless shelter; and Frank, a Mexican-­American office "straight" (what Maria called men who worked actual jobs) who wanted a son but could not marry my mother. The only way to keep them straight was to imagine what actors would play them in a movie made from my life:

Paul Skyhorse Johnson: Will Sampson, the American Indian "Chief" from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Robert: Esai Morales. A "hot" Esai Morales. La Bamba Esai Morales.

Pat: Roseanne-era John Goodman.

Rudy: Present day Robin Williams. Plus thirty pounds.

Frank: I've known him the longest so I can't imagine him in caricature. If he were asked, he'd say Chris Noth from Law & Order or Michael Nouri from the movie Flashdance. In that order.

These men were never simply my mother's "boyfriends" or "partners." They weren't "surrogate dads" or "stepfathers." I couldn't call them by their first names, nor was I allowed to speak about any past father in the presence of a new one. My mother made it clear that these men, trying to be men, were my fathers, absorbed instantly into our tiny clan of mother, grandmother, and me, so we could be, or pose as, a family. Life with each of these fathers followed a similar path. First I was forced to accept them, then slowly I trusted them, then I grew to love them.

Then they left.

"Some boys don't have any father in their life," my mother would say, bucking me up. "You've had five. Plenty for one boy."

I was father rich but family poor. Our house shook as if it were filled with people—brothers, sisters, a chorus of screaming children—but really belonged to just two angry women who were five foot and change tall. We shopped at the Smart & Final warehouse for commissary-sized Shake 'N Bake and restaurant-style cartons of frozen burgers, purchasing family-size packs in gross for a family that could fit in a hatchback.

We were a triangle trying to fill a circle.

When I grew out of that circle, I tried searching for the true ends of my mother's stories; ends I thought explained who my father was. Who I was. Each father took a piece of me when he left, leaving a hole that got bigger as I got older. I wanted those pieces back. I wanted that hole filled.

My mother would say, "I can't tell you what really happened," as if she were protecting someone else's truth and not her own exaggerated version of it. Her stories had ominous detours and switchbacks, contradicting prior layers of her own facts. When cornered, my mother hissed, sizzled, and exploded like fireworks, and then offered, by way of explanation or apology, five words I'd come to know by heart.

Excerpted from Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse. Copyright © 2014 by Brando Skyhorse. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Brando Skyhorse's Unusual Name

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Falling
    by Jane Green

    "Readers who enjoy a love story with heart will adore this tale of homecoming and transformation." - LJ

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!