A richly-textured set of interlinked stories set in Colorado, Rachel King’s Bratwurst Haven offers moving glimpses of the many costs of underpaid labor and the profound and sustained difficulty of moving on from misfortunes, mistakes, or unforced errors. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Linked stories trace the vocational and emotional bargains made by workers at a Colorado sausage factory.
It's almost a decade after the Great Recession, and in Colorado, St. Anthony Sausage has not recovered. Neither have its employees: a laid-off railway engineer, an exiled computer whiz, a young woman estranged from her infant daughter, an older man with cancer who lacks health care. As these low-wage workers interact under the supervision of the factory's owner and his quietly rebellious daughter, they come to understand that in America's postindustrial landscape, although they may help or comfort each other, they also have to do what's best for themselves.
Over the course of these twelve interrelated stories, Rachel King gives life to diverse, complex, and authentic characters who are linked through the sausage factory and through their daily lives in a vividly rendered small town in Boulder County. The internal and external struggles of Bratwurst Haven's population are immediately and intimately relatable and resonant: these people seek answers within the world they inhabit while questioning what it means to want more from their lives.
"In these twelve linked short stories, Rachel King captures the magic of the American mountain west and the people who call it home. Her characters take work in a sausage factory, pull shifts at a bar to fund their art, struggle with booze and pills, or end up with a haircut after losing at poker. They also care for one another, offering kindnesses both large and small. In Bratwurst Haven, King uncovers the complicated ways humans connect, and she gives it to us in prose that is as crystal clear as a bright Colorado day. It is a collection that builds with each story revealing more and more of the friendships and family that bind us all together — and that we cannot escape from, even when we try."
Wendy J. Fox, author of What If We Were Somewhere Else and If the Ice Had Held
"Often hovering on the cusp of some potential change, the characters in Bratwurst Haven's beautifully written stories share a yearning for more — a better relationship or job or simply a chance to feel content. These all-too-relatable struggles make the stories not only engrossing but also an intriguing and tenderly rendered study of this flawed world we call home."
Rajia Hassib, author of A Pure Heart
About the Author
Rachel King is the author of the novel People Along the Sand. Her short stories have appeared in One Story, North American Review, Green Mountains Review, Northwest Review, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Oregon and West Virginia University, she lives in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.