Cornelius Sky (Paperback)
Kaylie Jones Books, 9781617757082, 216pp.
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
"Brandoff's memorable debut follows the unraveling of Connie Sky, a doorman at a posh apartment building on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue...The author impresses as a master of street-smart dialogue in the tradition of George V. Higgins. Connie's world is made up of lost souls, all lucidly etched, and Brandoff recreates a vanished New York of Alexander's, Blarney Stones, and Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel on the local TV news. In the end, Brandoff makes Connie's path to understanding himself feel well-earned. This is a dramatically satisfying and emotional resonant novel."
"Brandoff writes precisely about Connie's mental state and lucidity...When Brandoff focuses on the details of New York City life, he establishes an atmospheric, lived-in quality... Cornelius Sky's] detailed portrait of a self-destructive character retains a haunting power."
"Brandoff's Cornelius Sky displays a full gamut of emotion, from seething anger and despair to raucous good humor. Set in a bygone Manhattan, it is a serious comic novel about human failings and forgiveness. This remarkable study of a doorman will stay with you, and live on."
--Allison Janney, Oscar Award-winning actress
"Timothy Brandoff's Cornelius Sky is a novel that seems to be everywhere, and is superbly told. The storyteller has the sharp eye and calm voice of an intrigued looker-on."
--Larry Heinemann, National Book Award-winning author of Paco's Story
"Who knew how we'd ached for this story of a flesh-and-blood human being? A doorman tortured by generational trauma, tragicomically self-sabotaging, bleakly comic, alternately callous and tender, and electrically, poetically alert to the sights, sounds, smells and existential nuance of Kennedy-era New York. Plus--glory be to God--a huge drunk. Who knew Timothy Brandoff, this bard of Manhattan, would emerge from the Chelsea projects, go on to operate a NYC Transit bus, and end up giving us a novel that is at once a kick in the gut and a strangled cry of exultation? Cornelius Sky sings."
--Heather King, author of Famished: A Food Memoir with Recipes
Cornelius Sky is a doorman in a posh Fifth Avenue apartment building that houses New York City's elite, including a former First Lady whose husband was assassinated while in office. It is 1974 and New York City is heading toward a financial crisis. At work, Connie prides himself on his ability to buff a marble floor better than anyone, a talent that so far has kept him from being fired for his drinking. He pushes the boundaries of his duties, partying and playing board games with the former First Lady's lonely thirteen-year-old son in the service stairwell--the only place where the boy is not spied upon mercilessly by the tabloid press and his Secret Service detail.
Connie believes he is the only one who can offer true solace and companionship to this fatherless boy, but his constant neglect of his own sons and their mother reaches a boiling point. His wife changes the locks on his own door, and he finds himself wandering the mean streets of the city in his uniform, where unlikely angels offer him a path toward redemption. Cornelius Sky is an elegant picaresque that beautifully captures an opulent city on the edge of ruin and recovery.