Episode 228 — Claire Vaye Watkins


Claire Vaye Watkins is the guest. Her debut story collection, Battleborn, is now available in paperback from Riverhead.

Antonya Nelson, writing for The New York Times Book Review, says

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.

And The Millions says

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.

Monologue topics: titles, titling, Dying Young, nakedly depressing titles.