Battleborn coverI'm currently enthralled with an Advance Readers Copy my Penguin Group hardcover sales representative gave me. It took me a while to get to it. To be honest, I just kept skipping it over. Now that I'm in the middle of it, I can't figure out why. It has everything I love: strong sense of place, compelling characters, a slippery sense of time, and beautiful beautiful prose. The book is Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins. There are moments when I've held my breath and rushed through a story to see what happens. Then I go back and read it again. These short stories resonate, reverberate even, in my psyche even after I've closed the book and turned out the light. It also begins with a poem I had forgotten about but that I love. I think you will love this book too. I'm sorry that I won't be able to sell it until August because I'm dying to put it in peoples' hands today. Instead, I'll leave you with the poem that sets the tone for the book.


In the desert

I saw a creature, naked, bestial,

Who, squatting upon the ground,

Held his heart in his hands,

And ate of it.

I said, "Is it good, friend?"

"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;


"But I like it

Because it is bitter,

And because it is my heart."

--Stephen Crane