Gold Fame Citrus: A Novel
Claire Vaye Watkins
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Vanity Fair, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Refinery 29, Men's Journal, Ploughshares, Lit Hub, Book Riot, Los Angeles Magazine, Powells, BookPage and Kirkus Reviews
The much-anticipated first novel from a Story Prize-winning “5 Under 35” fiction writer.
In 2012, Claire Vaye Watkins’s story collection, Battleborn, swept nearly every award for short fiction. Now this young writer, widely heralded as a once-in-a-generation talent, returns with a first novel that harnesses the sweeping vision and deep heart that made her debut so arresting to a love story set in a devastatingly imagined near future:
Unrelenting drought has transfigured Southern California into a surreal, phantasmagoric landscape. With the Central Valley barren, underground aquifer drained, and Sierra snowpack entirely depleted, most “Mojavs,” prevented by both armed vigilantes and an indifferent bureaucracy from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to internment camps. In Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon, two young Mojavs—Luz, once a poster child for the Bureau of Conservation and its enemies, and Ray, a veteran of the “forever war” turned surfer—squat in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Holdouts, they subsist on rationed cola and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.
The couple’s fragile love somehow blooms in this arid place, and for the moment, it seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins. They head east, a route strewn with danger: sinkholes and patrolling authorities, bandits and the brutal, omnipresent sun. Ghosting after them are rumors of a visionary dowser—a diviner for water—and his followers, who whispers say have formed a colony at the edge of a mysterious sea of dunes.
Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins’s novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.
From the Hardcover edition.
slammed the blond wood door closed, setting it shuddering on its casters. A cruel instinct she was paying for hours later, for she was now plagued with a hefty boredom and the melancholy of finishing an excellent book—a biography of John Wesley Powell—and had nothing new to read. The question, now, was whether to interrupt Ray—in the yard constructing a half-pipe from the plywood they’d pried off the windows and doors of the starlet’s ultramodern château—or to handle this prairie dog situation
plastic bulldozer lies on its side at his feet, rumored the photographer’s salt. The child’s crusted face is tilted skyward, to the ration jug he holds inverted over his head. His tongue is a violent belt of glistening red, the last drop of water dangling from the lip of the jug. A wink of light in the droplet, too pure to be digital. Still those once of Needles lingered, stationing themselves at the foot of the dune for three weeks after the town was buried, accepting only rations from Red
squirmy tells. Dallas trained Luz to train Ig to squat in the dirt and work it out. They made a game of burying their waste, of watching their water guzzled by the dry ground. We don’t need diapers, do we, Ig? We were never meant to shit our pants, right, Ig? Through Ig, runty conduit, Dallas taught Luz the siesta schedule with which they slept away the brutal hours. Soon Ig and Luz had gone circadian, up before dawn into early morning, then rising again for sunset and the first, sane half of
place, Luz. They are trying to obliterate us. They send trucks in the night. Have you heard them?” She hadn’t, but she was not so powerful a listener as he. “What do we do?” Levi chewed his root thoughtfully. She inhaled, excited by the sudden opportunity to be useful. “I have some money,” she offered. He winced. “I don’t even want it,” she said. “I haven’t even looked at it.” It was true. The hatbox sat in the corner of the Blue Bird, where Levi had first delivered it, an artifact. Inside,
locales. Luz craved a whole cache of them beneath the Blue Bird, for she knew her lies had invited the range. Luz was and was not Baby Dunn. She had been emancipated from that life, no longer used that name, though it was still hers—Levi had seen the state-issued proof of that, embossed with California’s great seal—extinct grizzly beside extinct river, Eureka! overhead. Even if Ig could play the role of Baby Dunn’s baby without exposing her foul providence, without drawing the Nut or the cops or