Book Review: Gold Fame Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins's debut novel (following her much-acclaimed short story collection, Battleborn), introduces readers to Southern California in the near future--a region in which extensive drought has permanently altered both the physical and social landscape. The land is mostly deserted but for a handful of holdouts: those unable to afford evacuation and those unwelcome in the more fertile areas of the United States.
In this barren, empty place live Luz and Ray, camping out in the abandoned mansion of a former starlet. When the two encounter a strange young girl on a foraging trip, their lives--and their love--shifts in unexpected ways, sending the two on a journey across the hostile, hardened lands of the southwestern United States.

Watkins writes in prose that borders on poetry, capturing both the hardness and the beauty of her imagined landscape in ways that make each page of her novel sing with a sense of place. "Clear--whatever color you want it to be. The color of diamonds kissed by light. Bathe in it, fling it into the air, carpet the desert in Bermuda and Buffalo and Kentucky blue." These powerful, flowing descriptions prove even more compelling as a mirror for a series of nuanced, flawed and fascinating characters--ones who struggle through an apocalyptic world both external and internal. Gold Fame Citrus builds in intensity and emotion as it progresses, creating a moving American epic that explores the role stories, place and our closest relationships serve in shaping our selves.

Gold Fame Citrus | Claire Vaye Watkins | Riverhead | Hardcover | 352 pages | 2015 | Buy from an independent bookstore near you

No comments

Thanks for stopping by!