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Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins

Battleborn (edition 2012)

by Claire Vaye Watkins

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3653845,016 (4.05)74
Authors:Claire Vaye Watkins
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Literary Fiction, To-Read, Lit Fic To-Read, Kindle, America

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Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins



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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Mostly set around Reno. Lots of video poker, a generous smattering of unwelcome pregnancies and a fair old amount of gold prospecting. Not terrible, but hardly comparable with Cormac McCarthy as the cover quote claimed. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Tom G. recommended

A brilliant collection. The stories are all similar geographically - centered around Reno, Las Vegas, and Northern California - but otherwise they vary in terms of narration (some in first person, some in third, one in letters), main character (men, women, younger, older), time period (from the Gold Rush to the present day), and subject. The very first story ("Ghosts, Cowboys") is autobiographical, about the author's link with the Manson family.

Tin House essay/speech "On Pandering"

NYT review


From "The Last Thing We Need"
Like all our memories, we like to take it out once in a while and lay it flat on the kitchen table, the way my wife does with her sewing patterns, where we line up the shape of our life against that which we thought it would be by now. (29)

Sometimes a person wants a part of you that's no good. Sometimes love is a wound that opens and closes, opens and closes, all our lives. (33)

From "The Diggings"
One thing I learned from the diggings is that a love of destruction is in every man's heart, somewhere. (208)

It was not uncommon for foreigners or Negroes to be treated so cruelly, even in Ohio. But it seemed a particular injustice in the territory, because it was a place brand-new, like nothing we had ever seen, far from the achievements of civilization but also from its ugliness. California was an Ophir, not an Eden. (216)

It is strange telling you this, because the boy I was feels so far away from the man I am now. I know I ought to consider that distance a blessing, given the darkness and the difficulty of the time I have described here. But it brings me no comfort to think how far I have traveled nor how much wiser I've become. Because although I was afraid and angry and lonesome much of the time, I was also closer to my own raw heart there in the territory than I have ever been since. (236)

From "Virginia City"
Poor sweet Danny. We can't help who we love. (259)

I'm sorry for everything, even the things that had nothing to do with me. Especially those. (262) ( )
  JennyArch | Aug 20, 2018 |
This is a wonderful, often gritty, collection of short stories.

Two especially were memorable to me:

The first entry in the book and one of my favorites is 'Ghosts, Cowboys'. It is more essay than short story about the hard scrabble state of Nevada's history. It segues into the author's own story. Her father, Larry Watkins, was a member of the infamous Manson family, living on the Spahn and also the Meyers Ranches. Although Watkins was present when Manson gave his Helter Skelter prophecy, he did not take part in the murders, and became one of the prime witnesses against Manson during Manson's trial. After the trial, Watkins acquired a job and a wife and eventually daughter Claire.

My other favorite, 'The Diggings', recounts a story of two brothers hunting gold in Nevada. When they need extra help to work their claim, they befriend a Chinese father and his son. This is a sad part of American history as the Chinese were hated. The outcome of the story is very sobering.

Excellent writer. I'll look forward to reading more of her work. ( )
1 vote streamsong | Dec 16, 2017 |
I don't generally read short stories, but I heard a review of the book some time ago and earmarked it to read. It was very good - all stories were set in the west and evoked the atmosphere of that part of the country. Claire Vaye Watkins really knows how to spin a yarn. ( )
  TerryLewis | Jun 12, 2017 |
I was so wrong in my initial response to the first story in this book. I mistakenly believed I had found another [a:Claire-Louise Bennett|6431820|Claire-Louise Bennett|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1443673781p2/6431820.jpg], but this Claire is in no way, even in one story, close. My Claire is a genius, this Claire is not. But what scares me about this particular writer is that she is also a teacher, and what we have absolutely no need of are more collections the inferior quality of this one. The writing is actually bad and so pathetically boring that I had to abandon it. You want a very good book of short stories to read? Get instead yourself a [b:Pond|25333047|Pond|Claire-Louise Bennett|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1428656359s/25333047.jpg|45069198]. ( )
  MSarki | Oct 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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Book description
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 re imagining 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 Hold 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.
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A debut collection of ten short works reimagines the mythology of the American West and includes stories of a foreigner's arrival at a prostitution ranch, a hermit's attempt to rescue an abused teen, and a woman's role in a friend's degrading Vegas encounter.… (more)

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