A confused identity, a mother’s quest: writer Brando Skyhorse delves into his difficult childhood in a new memoir

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The writer Brando Skyhorse with one of his fathers, Frank

The writer Brando Skyhorse with one of his fathers, Frank

If you’re looking for a page-turning summer read, and if you love personal stories that make your own crazy family seem like “Leave it to Beaver,” consider Brando Skyhorse’s new memoir, “Take This Man.”

Much of the action is set on Portia Street in Echo Park, where Skyhorse grew up with his mother, his grandmother, and a rotating cast of potential fathers.  (His biological dad left when he was a toddler.)

Even if the geographic landscape is familiar, you won’t likely find what went on in this home familiar. And while this family drama is at times chilling (think the male version of Jeannette Walls’ best-selling book, “The Glass Castle”), Skyhorse manages to treat his difficult childhood with grace and humor.

TAKE THIS MAN coverThere are two main themes here: his free-spirited, imaginative mother, Maria Teresa’s, quest for love. And his own confused identity: Not content with her son’s heritage as a Mexican-American, Maria Teresa creates an identity for her son that even he doesn’t realize is fictional.

We talked with Skyhorse, who lives in the New York area, at the KCRW studios today. He’s in town for several author appearances, and arrived accompanied by Frank, who served as a stabilizing force during the author’s childhood.

You can see him in person tonight at Skylight Books (7:30pm) and on Friday at Vroman’s (7pm)  in Pasadena.  And you can read an excerpt of this beautifully written memoir here.