The Real Life Battle That Claire Vaye Watkins Was Born Into: Background information when reading Battleborn

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Battleborn

Stories

by Claire Vaye Watkins

Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins X
Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2012, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2013, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Real Life Battle That Claire Vaye Watkins Was Born Into

Print Review

Readers will notice immediately that the narrator of Claire Van Watkins's opening story, "Ghosts, Cowboys," shares a name with the author. This isn't an accident. The story, which is about a young woman trying to outgrow the legacy of her past, is Watkins's own. "About once a year someone tracks me down," she says. "Occasionally it's one of Charlie's fans wanting to stand next to Paul Watkins's daughter, to rub up against all that's left." The "Charlie" in question is Charles Manson, whose "Family" spent time at the famous Spahn ranch in Nevada which was used as a movie set for many westerns. Paul Watkins, the author's (and narrator's) father, was Charles Manson's right-hand man: "Charlie's number one procurer of young girls.

Paul Watkins joined Manson's Family in 1968, shortly after he had graduated from high school. Although he was indeed part of Manson's inner circle, he became increasingly uneasy when he heard Manson's so-called Helter Skelter prophecy that seemed to foretell violence and intent to commit murder. Although deeply conflicted, he took an opportunity to leave the commune, and later was a key witness for the prosecution after the Manson group did, in fact, commit a series of murders a few months later. Watkins became an anti-cult advocate before his death in 1990.

Claire Vaye Watkins and her father Paul Watkins Claire Vaye Watkins, who started the stories that became Battleborn while she was in an MFA program in Ohio, wrote in a piece for Granta that her desire to write about the American West stems from a longing for her late father: "It is the only thing that satiates my hunger for him." Battleborn is full of real references to actual places throughout Nevada, but perhaps none quite so personal as the story of her father's troubled youth and his legacy.

Pictures from Associated Press. On the left is the author Claire Vaye Watkins. In the right hand picture are the members of Charles Manson's "family": Mark Ross, tall with dark beard; Paul Watkins, front center; and Catherine "Gypsy" Share, holding Sandra Good's son Ivan. The picture was taken in the Los Angeles Hall of Justice on Feb. 24, 1970.

Article by Norah Piehl

This article was originally published in September 2012, and has been updated for the August 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.