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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel

There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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Battleborn Cover

ISBN13: 9781594488252
ISBN10: 1594488258
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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Anna W, August 31, 2012 (view all comments by Anna W)
You might wonder if Claire Vaye Watkins is only worth reading because her father was "Charles Manson's right hand man." I wondered the same. But in "Ghosts, Cowboys," the opening story of this collection, she takes any doubts you may have head-on, because perhaps they are her doubts too. These stories gutted me, left me lovesick and homesick and broken just like the characters that fill the pages. Read the one composed of only letters. No! The one with the peacock farm. Or the one with the goldlusting brothers! I know I will read them all many, many times.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
S Sherman, August 6, 2012 (view all comments by S Sherman)
Watkins is talented. Without, it appears, an abundance of pretentiousness. On top of it all, she's young and cute. Like really just cute.

All of that is to say: I should hate her.

But I kinda want to be her friend.

She makes me want to sit down at my computer and pound out some 4000 word short story that explores why my son -- when he thinks I'm asleep -- crawls under the covers and sleeps curled up in the angles of my legs. He does this; his curly head tickling the backs of my knees, his toes playing with my toes. Watkins would write that beautifully and have something profound to say. She's make a connection; it'd only be a heartbeat long. And it would make you gasp and say, "God."

The short story is a medium that I use often in class, but I rarely seek out collections. And I'm severely lacking in new voices. I'm happy for the Advanced Reader's Copy of these stories because I wouldn't have ever picked it up on my own and these were great to read. There was only one story that I didn't love...and even that one story kept my interest.

A lot here to love.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Annelle, August 3, 2012 (view all comments by Annelle)
this little gem arrived in my Indispensable along with The Book of Jonas. was unsure about this book, but the stories won me over. Am not a reader of short stories, but LOVED this little collection of stories. Watkins's home state of Nevada plays a huge part of these stories, almost a character along with the others in the stories. this little gem made me want to read more short stories. read this people and you will fall in love with the stories of Claire Vaye Watkins!
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Alisha C, April 13, 2012 (view all comments by Alisha C)
When Indiespensable arrived this month, I looked at the Book of Jonas, but decided to dive into the Advanced Readers Copy of Battleborn (a free gift) first. What a great decision. The stories in this collection can be dark in places, gritty in others. The book is a mix of forms, characters and styles, making it an adventure through the collection, as you never know who or what will come next. I am highly impressed with this debut by Watkins and highly anticipate further stories from her.
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Product Details

Watkins, Claire Vaye
Riverhead Books
Stories (single author)
Literature-A to Z
Westerns - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Battleborn Sale Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Riverhead Hardcover - English 9781594488252 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The people in Battleborn are wounded yet compassionate, despairing and lonely, but always open to a hug, a kiss, a way out, a way in, or a fleeting moment of companionship. These aren't characters in stories, but human beings perpetually yearning for warmth. Fortunately, this book contains many stories because I read them for days. Claire Vaye Watkins has apparently sprung fully formed into the narrow pantheon of young writers willing to take narrative risks, eschewing trend and style for depth and wisdom. Entering the varied lives is akin to watching a tightrope walker high overhead, moving with steady confidence without a net. I found no missteps, no wobbles, no hesitations. As every story ended, I exhaled a long breath I didn't know I'd been holding. Watkins writes with precision and care, the sentences themselves as surprising as the events, the dialogue, and the spare description. On a purely formal level, these stories shatter the forward motion of time. They move easily and readily from the present to the past and even to the near future. For lack of a better term, there is a purity to the prose that is a constant pleasure to read. Watkins makes beautiful art by embracing the rigors of the short story form, considered the most difficult in literature, then tossing out the rules and inventing some of her own. She blends history and fact with fiction to create a new mythology of the American West — the untold stories of people seeking connection with the past, the land, and each other. There is great originality in these narratives. I was deeply moved by the core of emotion within each story. The settings are fresh — desert, brothel, ghost town, casino, a series of letters. But the generosity and personal sacrifices of the people are as universal as the stars at night. Chris Offutt is the author, most recently, of No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home. He lives in Mississippi." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "A real treat....Through remarkably assured writing that manages to be both bristly and brittle, Watkins chronicles despair and loneliness, catalogs valiant fights for survival and desperate please to be heard, and every time has us rooting for her underdogs."
"Review" by , "Although individual stories stand alone, together they tell the tale of a place, and of the population that thrives and perishes therein....The historical sits comfortably alongside the contemporary and the factual nicely supplements the fictional....Readers will share in the environs of the author and her characters, be taken into the hardship of a pitiless place and emerge on the other side—wiser, warier and weathered like the landscape."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Readers...will find much to admire in this arresting collection, which one hopes is merely the first stop along the way for a writer who deserves a sustained literary life."
"Review" by , "Exceptional....A writer of great precision and greater restraint, Watkins is a natural storyteller whose material enriches that gift rather than engulfing it....One doesn't have to be from the Battleborn state to recognize and appreciate literature that resonates like this."
"Review" by , "[A] breathtaking debut....[Watkins'] stories...carry the weight and devastation of entire novels."
"Review" by , "Absorbing....[Battleborn's] true setting is a Faulknerian desert of the heart, where the soil is cursed by its precious metals and one's personal history can be just as toxic. Clear-eyed and nimble in parsing the lives of her Westerners, one of Watkins's strengths is not dodging that the simple fact that love can be tragic, involving, as it does, humans so flawed, so often tender and yet incapable."
"Review" by , "A powerful new voice that deserves recognition....[Watkins maps] a regional portrait while pausing for detailed sketches, with a strong perspective that blends the romanticized past of Larry McMurtry, heartbreaking characters of Annie Proulx, and bleak timeless landscapes of Cormac McCarthy."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A coolly impressive new voice of the American West."
"Review" by , "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 shes here."
"Review" by , "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."
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