Most of the stories in Claire Vaye Watkins's debut story collection, Battleborn, take place in the arid setting of Nevada. Both the cities and the desert are equally, if differently, inhospitable to the lonely, often damaged people who populate the pages of her stories. "From where the house was perched, high up on the alluvial fan, the valley below seemed to unfurl and flatten like a starched white sheet. The sun was rising, illuminating the peaks of the Last Chance Range to the west, starting its long trip across the Black Rock
Something was different in the distance. A small white cloud of dust billowed on the horizon. It grew. At its eyes was a speck. A truck."
In this desolate environment, people can see trouble, like that pickup truck, coming from miles away. And trouble seems to find them, whether in the form of overt threats or suppressed bad memories and ancient demons. ...
*For those who are a little rusty on their scientific classifications - pinnipeds are fin footed mammals including walruses, seals and sea lions (Latin pinna meaning wing or fin, and ped - foot).
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