RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe most notable feature of Battleborn, the first story collection by Claire Vaye Watkins, is its physical landscape, especially as it affects the people who stake their claims on its inhospitable terrain ... \'Ghosts, Cowboys,\' which opens the collection, can be read as a literary fractal of the book over all. The historical sits comfortably alongside the contemporary, and the factual nicely supplements the fictional ... a dense and haunting story, told in the lyric and associative method of a poem ... Many of these tales share a self-consciousness about the nature of storytelling itself, featuring characters whose interest is in making a narrative out of what is otherwise a mystery ... Whether Watkins casts a backward glance...or a contemporaneous one...her vision is brutally unsentimental. Characters dig themselves into holes — literal or figurative — and are not explicitly rescued. If they survive it’s by the same means as they’ve so far endured: stubbornness, luck and a slim strand of hope ... Readers will share in the environs of the author and her characters, be taken into the hardship of a pitiless place and emerge on the other side — wiser, warier and weathered like the landscape.