Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Description: Like the work of Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Annie Proulx, Battlebornrepresents 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 reimagining 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 Gold 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.
My thoughts: The prose is beautiful but often uses foreign phrases that might be more common in the desert where the stories take place. At times the sentences lack meaning while getting caught up in the beautiful prose.
Admittedly, I found myself caught up in the story and unable to put the book down until I reached the end of each story. Yet at the end of each story I was left scratching my head and asking myself what happened..
I didn't get it.
Beautiful writing aside, the overall feeling of each story is disturbing and laid wasted. The ending is no ending but a continuation of life without happiness or meaningful change. It's more like a snapshot day of a meaningless day in the life of a sexual deviant, lonely person the rest of the world has forgotten, or a person who simply does not have the drive to change but will continue to succumb to the vast nothingness of the desert life.
View all my reviews