Rebecca Clarren, "Kickdown" (Arcade, 2018)


Two sisters are struggling to save their land when a gas well explodes on a neighboring ranch in western Colorado, setting off a disturbing chain of events. Their father has died, the older sister has become unraveled and the younger sister is mauled by an angry cow. Her ex-boyfriend is buying up oil and gas rights and downplays a spate of cancer-related deaths near his wells. The company offers the sisters bottled water when the river starts bubbling. There’s also an Iraqi war veteran who helps the sisters while he’s on probation from his job as a police officer, putting his own marriage at risk. This is a moving debut novel about family, land, and the preservation of both in rural America. Award-winning journalist Rebecca Clarren has been writing about the rural West for twenty years. Her journalism, for which she has won the Hillman Prize, an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, and nine grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, has appeared in such publications as MotherJones, High Country News, The Nation, and Her debut novel, Kickdown (Arcade, 2018) was shortlisted for the PEN/Bellwether Prize. She lives in Portland, Ore. with her husband and two young sons. When she’s not writing, Rebecca can be found hiking, running with friends, or telling people what books to read. If you enjoyed today’s podcast and would like to discuss it further with me and other New Books network listeners, please join us on Shuffle. Shuffle is an ad-free, invite-only network focused on the creativity community. As NBN listeners, you can get special access to conversations with a dynamic community of writers and literary enthusiasts. Sign up by going here.

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