brandon r. schrand


“Schrand investigates the brief, fascinating career of charlatan Frank Robinson, who several weeks after the stock market crash of 1929 founded Psychiana, a mail-order religion with a “money back guarantee.” Through direct mail marketing, Robinson provided books and correspondence classes that promised “health, wealth, and happiness.” As the United States slipped into instability and economic depression, Robinson became immensely wealthy overnight, by preying on a vulnerable public. Combing through magazines, newspapers, archives, and letters that Robinson received from followers who said they found success through Psychiana, Schrand wends through Robinson’s turbulent early life, chronicling his alcohol addiction, his inability to hold a job, and his loose grasp on truth before the “religious awakening” that led to Psychiana. 

VERDICT This bizarre, gripping, yet balanced account of a charismatic man and an enterprise that prospered under the guise of religion will appeal to true crime fans and those interested in religious cults, including readers of Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief.” –Library Journal

Screenshot 2018-11-02 09.05.20

As reported, my essay, “Vivian,” appears in the pages of the venerable Boulevard. But what is particularly gratifying and cool is that it appears in that magazine’s 100th issue! If that alone wasn’t enough of a good thing, consider all the amazing talent I am lucky enough to be accompanied by: Ariel Saramandi, Chana Kim, Albert Goldbarth, Stephen Dixon, plus an interview with Jane Smiley. But don’t believe me. Check it out here.

Happy to announce that my essay, “Through the Glass Clearly,” first published in The Missouri Review, was listed as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2017. This makes my 5th Notable Essay in that series.

There is also a wonderful bio on Speer Morgan, esteemed Editor of TMR, over at Vox Magazine in which my little essay gets a nice shout-out. Read the interview for what it says about Speer, though, truly one of America’s great literary editors who has championed new and established writers for four decades. You’ll be glad you did.