Pick this battle


Every so often, I'll read a book that's so good, I catch myself getting weirdly aggressive about recommending it. Battleborn (Riverhead Books, $25.95), Claire Vaye Watkins' debut short-story collection, is one of those books. The recent recipient of The Story Prize 2012, Watkins' 10-story collection is set amid the various brutal environs of Nevada, depicting the casino-weary inhabitants of Las Vegas and Reno and the relentless desert that surrounds. The stories are a breathtaking feat of craft, but you don't have to take my word for it: Singer-songwriter Neko Case recently tweeted, “Battleborn inspiring my drive thru Nevada today! WOOP!”