Picture of author.

Claire Vaye Watkins

Author of Gold Fame Citrus

4+ Works 1,415 Members 95 Reviews 3 Favorited

About the Author

Works by Claire Vaye Watkins

Gold Fame Citrus (2015) 669 copies
Battleborn (2012) 510 copies

Associated Works

Granta 111: Going Back (2010) — Contributor — 114 copies
Granta 139: Best of Young American Novelists (2017) — Contributor — 71 copies
Double Bind: Women on Ambition (2017) — Contributor — 68 copies
The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story (2021) — Contributor — 56 copies
Sex and Death: Stories (2016) — Contributor — 44 copies
McSweeney's Issue 51 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern) (2017) — Contributor — 35 copies
The Paris Review 195 2010 Winter (2010) — Contributor — 23 copies
The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (2015) — Contributor — 10 copies


Common Knowledge



In sometimes very funny and sharp prose, the author tells a story of a young woman fleeing her husband and baby daughter, probably with post-partum depression, to live in the Mojave Desert where she was raised, all true of the author. She starts the story with activities of her father, described on a Tecopa website, "Paul Watkins, the famous member of Charles Manson’s Family who testified against Manson, securing his conviction for the notorious Helter Skelter murders. Watkins founded the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce, and his daughter, writer Claire Vaye Watkins, grew up here, near the Old Spanish Trail." He died young and Claire Vaye Watkins focuses much of the later chapters on her erratic alcoholic mother and reliable sister and her many boyfriends. In many ways, this angry and intense tale smacks of memoir and reviewers label it as autofiction. Enchanted by the title, I moved quickly through the first half of this book but found it bogged down in the found letters from her mother as a teen. I skimmed until we were back in Tecopa and desert living as the author finds some peace in solitude: “Pull my hair. Be kind to all plants and animals and children. Leave me alone. That’s how I like it,” she demands in this look at the injustice of making mother and woman and artist and lover mutually exclusive.… (more)
featherbooks | 10 other reviews | May 7, 2024 |
Richly imagined stories of the frontier ( the West will forever be a frontier) in which broken people , or people who will become broken, search for a way through their personal wilderness. "The Diggings" was my favorite of the 10 stories.
jemisonreads | 45 other reviews | Jan 22, 2024 |
This book was pulling me to it as soon as I read that glorious title. Best title of all time? Claire Vaye Watkins is a boss. I knew I would love this book. It must take some guts to write auto-fiction -- autobiographical fiction! Watkins puts it all on the page. A few short chapters on postpartum depression swings into the backstory of her family to show how a Claire exists, what resulted in creating a Claire -- her dad just happened to be in a cult -- Manson's. (There is actually a real book describing that time, written by her dad Paul Watkins.) Not just a cult, but all the little things that make up a history and a life. I think the cult aspect just anchors some truth and keeps you guessing what else is real. I know this is "fiction" but there are so many parallels to the life of the writer that it is hard to separate fact from fiction. (And I had a lot of fun listening to author events with Watkins on Youtube to find out what was real. The tattoo that names the book on one of Claire's old boyfriends? REAL.) But no matter what the truth might be, the sentences are a treasure. There is a cynicism that is usually just my jam... suppose the darkness chose Watkins? Wherever the darkness is involved, I love this book. Just the way Watkins crafts sentences, with the darkness, if I may, laced with humor, the casual dropping of facts, I will read and probably admire whatever Watkins happens to write. It's a mood. Also, I think I just really love a flailing female character and even if this were not supposed to be an autofictional main character, to hold added interest in guessing what was true and what was not, I think I would have loved this book. I wonder if Watkins herself would find this book fitting this lovely list? I do. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/153374.She_s_Not_Feeling_Good_at_All_Catastr... I think this is the sort of book where there are bonus points involved if you are anywhere close to the age of the writer. She was born in 1984. (Oregon Trail gen!) ALSO, Rilo Kiley lyrics by page eight?!?! This is indeed a book for me. I would set this on the shelf beside:
'Look How Happy I'm Making You' by Polly Rosenwaike
a couple of books by Miriam Toews
'The New Wilderness' by Diane Cook
… (more)
booklove2 | 10 other reviews | Aug 14, 2023 |
What in the selfish dribble hell did I read? There’s nothing profound or enlightening. It’s a person making choices toward destruction because they can’t help themselves. It’s dark and disturbing that someone’s mind is like that, which I find intriguing, but I wouldn’t call it emotional or funny. Also, the whole Charles Manson and the family thing is still creepy.
Elise3105 | 10 other reviews | Aug 13, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
½ 3.5

Charts & Graphs