A unique and delightful modern Western that’s more City Slickers than True Grit.



In this debut novel, Harder brings a sharp, folkloric sensibility and plenty of humor to the not-so-wild West of 1970s Wyoming.

In 1977, Flynn McGuin is thrilled to be hopping a westward bus from Mudrock, Missouri, to travel to his new gig as a ranch hand. At the Wigglin’ W Ranch in Annelida, Wyoming, he’ll be able to rope and ride—and it’ll get him away from his depressing job in charge of a parking lot that no one uses. But instead of finding hard, honest work and the ideal of cowboy brotherhood, he finds a bizarre, ongoing feud, a reputedly violent foreman, and fellow workers who don’t seem to be aware of what century it is, let alone how to run a ranch. He’s ready to leave soon after he arrives, but then he stumbles into a saloon and finds love at first sight with a woman named Jolene. Flynn decides to tough it out, even if it goes against his better judgment. However, he soon makes enemies; meanwhile, his co-workers’ eccentricities get more pronounced, and the object of his affection puts new meaning to the phrase “hard to get.” It’s clear that his cowboy dream is rapidly becoming a comedy of errors. Whether he can make it through the summer is uncertain, but there’ll certainly be laughs along the way. Harder’s prose throughout is solid, and he creates a great first-person narrative voice for Flynn. He portrays him as a fish out of water, but one with plenty of wit behind his observations. As much as the situations provide moments of humor, Flynn’s perspective is a vital element that makes the depiction of cow-hating ranch owners and other players really pop. Many other humorists might have exhausted the wild and crazy characters after only a few short jabs about their particular eccentricities, but Harder’s steady pacing keeps things fresh and engaging throughout. All-in-all, the novel is fast, fun, and a little disorienting—a bull ride that readers aren’t likely to forget.

A unique and delightful modern Western that’s more City Slickers than True Grit.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5391-0226-7

Page Count: 232

Publisher: SeedInSoil Creative

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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