Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Discovering Kim Barnes

Even when your professional life is all tangled up with the pack of prolific writers populating the western U.S., and you're an avid recreational reader, it's hard to keep up. That's my excuse for reading Finding Caruso five years after it was published. Barnes' compelling story and poignant writing carried me from late evening into near-dawn before physical fatigue forced me to lay the book, and my head, down.

Although I wanted more character development and started to feel a little dizzy when the plot began to circle like a dog settling in for a nap, Finding Caruso pulled me into raw emotional territory. The first scene in the book will stay with me forever, in the same way parts of Faulkner's book Sanctuary still sprint through my mind now and then.

According to RandomHouse.com, "Kim Barnes is the author of the novel Finding Caruso and two memoirs, In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country—a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize—and Hungry for the World. She is coeditor with Mary Clearman Blew of Circle of Women: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Women Writers, and with Claire Davis of Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty. Her essays, stories, and poems have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, MORE magazine, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She teaches writing at the University of Idaho and lives with her husband, the poet Robert Wrigley, on Moscow Mountain."

Barnes' new novel, A Country Called Home, will be out in September.