- 232 Pages
- September 11, 2018
- ISBN: 9781628729689
When Jackie Dunbar's father dies, she takes a leave from medical school and goes back to the family cattle ranch in Colorado to set affairs in order. But what she finds derails her: the Dunbar ranch is bankrupt, her sister is having a nervous breakdown, and the oil and gas industry has changed the landscape of this small western town both literally and figuratively, tempting her to sell a gas lease to save the family land. There is fencing to be repaired and calves to be born, and no one—except Jackie herself—to take control. But then a gas well explodes in the neighboring ranch, and the fallout sets off a chain of events that will strain trust, sever old relationships, and ignite new ones. Rebecca Clarren's Kickdown is a tautly written debut novel about two sisters and the Iraq war veteran who steps in to help. It is a timeless and timely meditation on the grief wrought by death, war, and environmental destruction. Kickdown, like Kent Haruf's Plainsong or Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone, weaves together the threads of land, family, failure, and perseverance to create a gritty tale about rural America.
"In the novel’s closely observed daily round of ranch work — fixing fences, feeding cows, inoculating and branding the new calf crop — the lives and concerns of these rural folks and their ties to the land are slowly, inevitably revealed to us. The landscape of their world is both harsh and beautiful. “Brown melt-water flows fast through the irrigation ditch, coming down off Mount Baldy. The level might hold off a drought if there is one this summer. From this vantage, the fields are lush with the leavings of winter. The alfalfa is coming in green. A new calf runs and bucks; in just days on earth, its balance is already perfect. Kickdown in its moving evocation of a place and a people and a way of life at a pivotal point in our history, finds that same nearly perfect balance."—The Washington Post"Kickdown is what life sounds like when we give up the search for who we thought we were supposed to be, and begin the search for our own true humanity.” — Karen Fisher, author of A Sudden Country"Clarren’s great talent. . . is engagement with character. You care about these people and, through caring, you are transformed. A brilliant book.” — Pauls Toutonghi, author of Evel Knievel Days and Dog, Gone"Rebecca Clarren vividly depicts the beauty and the toughness of the American West in this timely, extraordinary debut.” —Carter Sickels, author of The Evening Hour, winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award and finalist for the Oregon Book Award."Kickdown is a worthy companion to the best Western novels. Its characters live and breathe, and the land and their work ont he land remain at the center of this fine first novel." —High Country News