Claire Vaye Watkins, “The Past Perfect, The Past Continuous, The Simple Past”

628x471A young Italian traveler loses his friend in the Nevada desert.

(from Battleborn)

Day seven. At the motel Michele lies staring at the untouched bed across from him. He hasn’t slept in days, not really. When the red-orange glow of sunset permeates the crack between the two heavy panels of curtain covering the west-facing window, he gets out of bed and showers without soap or shampoo, though there are fresh supplies of both on the shelf in the shower, still sealed in their waxy sanitary paper.

I don’t know what it is about the title of the book and the cover design and the name of the author that makes me think BORING. The book has done very well, especially for a story collection, and other people don’t seem to think it looks boring. Anyhow, this is to say that I’ve avoided reading it. And the cover is actually kind of pretty if you look at it up close. There are silver sparkles everywhere.

Okay, so, onto the story. This is a long one and most of it takes place at the Cherry Patch Ranch, which the Italian finds himself at nightly while waiting for his friend to be found. They don’t card him here and he falls in love with a prostitute. These two things don’t go together, but one is the reason he goes, and the other is the reason he keeps going. Anyhow, it’s a very good story. There was never a point at which I wanted to put the book down. I didn’t even refill my coffee. Read some of it here.


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