I received an advance reader copy of Battleborn with Indiespensable #32. The book jacket would have me believe that Claire Vaye Watkins is on par with Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx, to name a few. This is only Watkins' first collection of short stories, but I would tend to agree that this relatively new (she's published short stories before in the Paris Review among others) author has more than just the makings of something good. Each of the stories in this collection deals with some aspect of people who are connected to Nevada. People in different times through Nevada's history, or dealing with histories they have brought with them; people in various stages of becoming and being parents; whores and pimps, runaways, prospectors, and immigrants all feature somewhere in connection to not only the state of Nevada but also an idea of the American West. This collection also avoids playing into cliches of what the American West must be like from other media, and instead draws on the time and place as a way of setting how characters connect. Only one story in particular dragged for me. Otherwise this collection of stories fit together as a well written and chosen portrayal of life out West, both past and present. Once I started, the characters as well as the distinctive and interesting style kept me reading through to the end. The first few stories especially are intense and diverse, so much so that I read the first few straight through. I am hesitant to gush as this is a first collection. However, the outright skill displayed in this collection makes me eager to read more by the same author.