The stories in Battleborn all unfold in Watkins's home state of Nevada, from down south in Nye County and Las Vegas, to Reno, Lake Tahoe, Virginia City and the Black Rock Desert, the site of Burning Man. We are introduced to a very specific small-town America, to those homes and lives off the highway - the ones travellers and writers usually bypass on their way to somewhere else. While the locations are ordinary, the characters and Watkins's telling of their lives is anything but. There is the man who finds a cache of letters, pills and a photograph abandoned by the side of the road and as he writes to the man he imagines left them behind, reveals moving truths about himself ('The Last Thing We Need'); the man in late middle age who finds a troubled, pregnant teen dying in the desert and, through her, begins to dream of regaining the family he lost ('Man-O-War'); the brothers caught in the early days of the gold rush ('The Diggings'); and the sisters unable to comfort each other following their mother's suicide ('Graceland'). And there is the first story ('Ghosts, Cowboys'), a semi-autobiographical account of a troubled - and infamous - family history. These are stories to take the reader right to the heart of a truly American experience - face pressed up against a window, peeking past the unwashed panes to watch lives unfold. In their very specificity, these are stories that are also universal.
Full Product DetailsAuthor: Claire Vaye Watkins
Publisher: Granta Books
Imprint: Granta Books
ISBN 10: 1847084796
Publication Date: 16 August 2012
Audience: General/trade , General
Publisher's Status: Active
Availability: In Print
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Table of Contents
The most captivating voice to come out of the West since Annie Proulx - though it's to early Joan Didion that [Watkins] bears comparison for her arid humor and cut-to-the-chase knowingness. - Vogue <br> What distinguishes Watkins' work...is her command of time. Nearly all the stories are set in the present, but her characters constantly live with aftereffects of the past. They're not simply scarred by history; they're irradiated by it, queasily lit from within. - Minneapolis Star-Tribune <br> As if Watkins' prose embodies the desert landscape of Nevada itself, the stories are stony, unkind, and harsh, though never unattractive...Beneath these confessions runs a spiritual undertow -- that salvific beauty can arise when brutality is brought to light. ... All of her stories left me feeling purged and oddly cleansed, easily making Battleborn one of the strongest collections I've read in years. - The Millions <br> In her debut short story collection Battleborn Claire Vaye Watkins marries character to landscape as well as anyone I have read in years. These stories set in the Nevada desert are gritty and brilliant, and foretell an auspicious literary future for their author. - Largehearted Boy<br> <br> The people in Battleborn . .. aren't characters in stories, but human beings perpetually yearning for warmth. ... Entering the varied lives is akin to watching a tightrope walker high overhead, moving with steady confidence without a net. ... Watkins writes with precision and care, the sentences themselves as surprising as the events, the dialogue, and the spare description. ... There is a purity to the prose that is a constant pleasure to read. ... There is great originality in these narratives. ... But the generosity and personal sacrifices of the people are as universal as the stars at night. -- Chris Offutt, Publishers Weekly <br> Gloriously vivid stories about the human heart. - Kirkus <br> The book feels like a portrait of the human
Claire Vaye Watkins is a Nevadan and a Presidential Fellow at Ohio State University. Her work has appeared in Hobart, the Hopkins Review, Las Vegas Weekly and Ploughshares.
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