Randy Kennedy was born in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in Plains, a small farming town in the Texas Panhandle, where his father worked as a telephone lineman and his mother as a teachers' aide. He was educated at the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to New York City in 1991 and worked for twenty-five years as a staff member and writer for The New York Times, first as a city reporter and for many years covering the art world. His first novel, Presidio, hailed as a "rich and rare book" by novelist Annie Proulx, was published in 2018 by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. A collection of his city columns, Subwayland: Adventures in the World Beneath New York, was published in 2004. For The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine he has written about many of the most prominent artists of the last 50 years, including John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, Nan Goldin, Paul McCarthy and Isa Genzken. He is currently director of special projects for the international art gallery Hauser & Wirth. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Janet Krone Kennedy, a clinical psychologist, and their two children.
"Here is a rich and rare book. Reader, if you like poor Texas boys
gone bad (or not bad enough), landscapes so accurate in detail you
feel you grew up there, coldly logical Mennonite girls with outcast
Manitoban-Mexican papas, magnetic details about old cars, the finer
points of an automobile-thieving, and a magisterial use of italics
you will want to read this novel through twice in a row as I did.
It is a hard picture of the choices offered to poor Texas youths in
the 1960s and '70s. You might say it shakes out as a weird
combination of Canterbury Tales, Breaking Bad and
A la recherche du temps perdu with a dash of Confederacy
of Dunces, but it is brilliantly original. You will laugh, you
will cry and you will read it again straight through to enjoy the
fine points of marvelous writing. There is nothing out there like
--Annie Proulx, author of Barkskins
"Presidio is set in what I think of as Max Crawford Country--the bleak dreamscape around the edges of the Caprock, where life is, to say the least--gritty. Randy Kennedy captures the funny yet tragic relentlessness of survival in an unforgiving place. Let's hope he keeps his novelistic cool and brings us much, much more."
"Randy Kennedy writes wonderful prose. He combines the detail and eye of a journalist with the lyricism of a poet. If you want to read about the real deal down in Texas, he's your man."
--James Lee Burke, author of Robicheaux
"Randy Kennedy's Mexican-American frontier of the 1970s occupies the same dustblown landscape painted by Cormac McCarthy. Car thieves and drug dealers tumble together with Mennonites and luncheonette waitresses--all of them lightened by empty pockets, small dreams, and minimal futures. From these elements Kennedy assembles a gorgeously written narrative of outrunning violence and despair."
--Carol Anshaw, author of Carry the One
"A fabulous novel, executed in rare and exquisite language, about two brothers and the tough little girl, (one of the most engaging fictional heroines in recent memory), they accidentally encounter on a hapless journey across Texas to recover some stolen money. Kennedy is truly the literary heir to Cormac McCarthy in his depiction of the vivid characters and sparsely beautiful landscape of the American West."
--Dinitia Smith, author of The Honeymoon
"An absolute marvel of a novel. Like a nesting doll, it continually uncovers stories within stories, each revealing the depth and humanity of its fascinating cast of characters. Kennedy has given us a wonderfully compelling portrait of the American West in the second half of the twentieth century, full of danger, humor, and surprises."
--Ian Stansel, author of The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo