University of Nevada-Reno Alumni Claire Vaye Watkins reads and signs her new collection of short stories, BATTLEBORN (Riverhead Books), at Sundance Books and Music on Thursday, July 19, from 6:30 - 8 p.m. The official release date for BATTLEBORN is August 2 but Sundance will recieve a special early shipment of the book to sell the day of the event.
Like the work of Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Annie Proulx, BATTLEBORN represents a near-perfect confluence of sensibility and setting, and the introduction of an exceptionally powerful and original literary voice. In each of these ten unforgettable stories, Claire Vaye Watkins writes her way fearlessly into the mythology of the American West, utterly reimagining it. Her characters orbit around the region's vast spaces, winning redemption despite - and often because of - the hardship and violence they endure. The arrival of a foreigner transforms the exchange of eroticism and emotion at a prostitution ranch. A prospecting hermit discovers the limits of his rugged individualism when he tries to rescue an abused teenager. Decades after she led her best friend into a degrading encounter in a Vegas hotel room, a woman feels the aftershock. Most bravely of all, Watkins takes on - and reinvents - her own troubled legacy in a story that emerges from the mayhem and destruction of Helter Skelter. Arcing from the sweeping and sublime to the minute and personal, from Gold Rush to ghost town to desert to brothel, the collection echoes not only in its title but also in its fierce, undefeated spirit the motto of her home state.
Praise for Battleborn
“The book feels like a portrait of the human heart, famished for beauty and love, but finally and almost always wrecked by its own hungers.” —Paul Harding, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning TINKERS
“A fresh, fierce, fabulous collection. Watkins writes like the divine Didion – cool and clean with not a word wasted. Where’d she come from? I’m glad she’s here”
—Joy Williams, author of THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
“As blistering hot and wondrously expansive as the gritty, wide-open Nevada desert.” —Donald Ray Pollock, author of THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME and KNOCKEMSTIFF
“Claire Vaye Watkins is never, ever satisfied with the ordinary. Each story in this brilliant debut surprises. Watkins offers us amazing visions of a funny, savage, haunted West-and one of the most outstanding short story collections in recent memory.” —Christopher Coake, author of WE’RE IN TROUBLE and YOU CAME BACK (forthcoming from Grand Central)
About Claire Vaye Watkins
Claire Vaye Watkins was born in Bishop, California in 1984. She was raised in the Mojave Desert, first in Tecopa, California and then across the state line in Pahrump, Nevada. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Best of the West 2011: New Stories From the Wide Side of the Missouri, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, Claire earned her MFA from Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. She teaches creative writing at Bucknell University and the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference and is the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a non-profit creative writing camp for rural Nevadans. Her collection of short stories, BATTLEBORN, will be released by Riverhead Books on August 2, 2012.
Claire's reading is part of the 17th annual Artown festival, July 2012. The month-long summer arts festival features more than 400 events produced by more than 100 cultural organizations and businesses in locations citywide. Artown receives major funding from the City of Reno, and is sponsored by Grand Sierra Resort, U.S. Bank, NV Energy, JLH Inc., Waste Management, Basin Street Properties, Reno Gazette-Journal, KOLO 8 News Now, KTHX-FM and KNPB with additional support from the Nevada Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.