Showing posts with label Claire Vaye Watkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Claire Vaye Watkins. Show all posts

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney... Err... I mean, Leary!
Lynyrd's Disclaimer: 
I've never read Claire Watkins' new book "BatlleBorn". Consequently, I have no opinion of the book, one way or the other.  "Leary7" has written a lengthy review/thread for us... and since he's well-known  (and well-liked) on the blog circuit, I felt obliged to post his commentary. 
In regards to the Clarie's book specifically, I can neither agree or disagree.
Leary Writes: 

Why I Hated 'Battleborn'
Claire Watkins, Paul's daughter, seems by all accounts to be a very nice person and a really talented writer. Her book of short stories - Battleborn - came out recently and has been getting really good reviews from the critics. The peerless Col gave the book his approval as did a few blog readers. All of which left me with the challenge of figuring out why I hated it so much. I was clueless until...until...
I was reading another thread on this wonderful blog where Lynyrd and Saint were discussing Harold True. I'm with Lynyrd in being a huge fan of Harold's. The guy is a hoot and a half. And his assessment that Manson and The Family are "total idiots" is for me as dead on as can be. I know it is not polite or politically correct to call someone an idiot, but the simple and undeniable truth is that Charlie and the gang were/are the biggest idiots, morons and imbeciles on the planet.

What else do you call a woman who gives her own infant son a blowjob? Or a woman who tells her father to cut holes in the back of her jacket so her wings will go thru? Or a guy who a judge declares is too stupid to have committed murder? Look at the interviews, try to make heads or tails of what Bruce was saying when he turned himself in, or what the girls were babbling about on the sidewalk.

These people were total fucking idiots but we like to see them in the mode of counter-culture icons and social revolutionaries and such. They were not even close to being those things. They were only what Harold called them - idiots.

So what has this to do with Battleborn? Well, there are ten short stories in the book and in reflecting on them I suddenly realized that all the characters in them are pretty much complete idiots. The sort of humorous irony being that Ms. Watkins clearly has no interest in the idiots of TLB, yet her own stories are replete with idiots. Just a couple of quick examples.

The second story really isn't a story, it is a collections of five or six long letters that a guy (idiot) wrote to someone whose name and address he found on an abandoned prescription bottle in the desert. The guy pours out his heart to the 'name on the bottle' not knowing if the 'name' is alive or dead and the story never tells us. I know the artsy/fartsy crowd will say, "wow, how cool, barring one's heart to an unknown, faceless soul". I hate to sound like a cross between Archie Bunker and Rush Limbaugh, but crapola. It is nothing but a story of an idiot doing an idiotic thing.

In another story two Pizza Hut girls who live in a small town 90 minutes from Vegas decide to make a night of it in Sin CIty since they are bored. They go to town, hook up with a gang of rude teenage boys who get em drunk on orange soda and vodka which inevitably leads to either a gang bang or group sex (it seem ambiguous to me). Ms. Watkins was trying to use the old "pathos/turbulence/poignancy" formula but the story had ZERO pathos or poignancy for me. It was just a tale of two idiot girls behaving idiotically.

I could go on but I am boring myself. By all means get a copy of Battleborn if you are into tales of self-involved idiots and morons. Or if you love angst and despair. I am just getting to old and crochety for any of that nonsense. I wonder if eventually I am going to tire of TLB for that very reason - just sick of idiots.

If that really is all TLB was - idiots run amouk - then it does feel kind of silly to me having spent all this time reading and thinking on the subject. I suppose one could ask - who's the idiot now.

Charlie, the master manipulator of idiots, is laughing his ass off at people like me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Paul Watkins' daughter (Claire Vaye Watkins)
has weaved a collection of short stories,
into a new book Titled "Battleborn".
Claire Vaye Watkins is a Nevadan whose fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Granta, Ploughshares, One Story, The Paris Review and elsewhere. She holds a BA from the University of Nevada, Reno and an MFA from Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Watkins' collection of short stories, Battleborn, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. She teaches creative writing at Bucknell University.

"For writer Claire Vaye Watkins her life has been lived in the shadow of her father, Charles Manson’s right-hand man, but in her debut story collection she breaks free to capture the American West with beauty and power. She speaks to Claiborne Smith about her hunger for Nevada, her mother’s death, and her fiction."  Claiborne Smith

"Battleborn, is a remarkable debut of short stories". Jenny Shank 

The following was written by Geoff Mak on July 30, 2012

Joan Didion writes in her essay “The White Album” that the cultural paranoia known as “the Sixties” had ended — or rather been fulfilled — on August 9, 1969. That night, four members of Charles Manson’s “Family” broke into 10050 Cielo Drive and stabbed Sharon Tate Polanski, eight months pregnant, a total of sixteen times. Shortly after, as Paul Watkins and other members of the Manson Family watched a television report of the murders, somebody turned to him and said, “Wouldn’t it be somethin’ if old Charlie did that?”

Paul Watkins had been just out of high school when he joined the Manson Family. He was a former class president with a handsome face, and a smile sweet enough to recruit young girls to the commune. After the Manson murders, Watkins would ultimately testify against Charles Manson. He would outlive the Sixties. He would become president of the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce, appear on CNN, raise two daughters. On his deathbed, he would tape a video for his daughters, beginning with, “Here I am, my girls. I want you to know how much I loved you. I want you to know who I was.”

This is not the story his daughter Claire Vaye Watkins tells in “Ghost, Cowboys,” which opens her sweeping debut story collection Battleborn. Instead, “Ghost, Cowboys” explores the stories from Death Valley as a whole, in which her own family history plays only a small episode.

The narrator begins her story in 1859, when a man named Charles Fuller builds a toll bridge that was to become Reno decades later. Then, the narrator flashes forward to 1941, when George Spahn converts his ranch into a lucrative movie set. And yet again to 1968, when a group of ten hitchhikers offer George to “help” with chores if he gives them permission to “camp out” in the empty set buildings. Two of those ten are the characters Charles Manson and Paul Watkins.

For more on Watkin's book, "Click" Below:
Kimchi writes:
I've always liked this tribute video, that the Watkins girls did for their mother.  It also includes rare photos of Paul too!