Happy Book Birthday – Juventud by Vanessa Blakeslee

Congrats to Vanessa Blakeslee on the publication of her first novel, Juventud! Fresh off the success of her 2014 story collection (Train Shots, Burrow Press) Vanessa is back with her second book quickly. I had the pleasure of meeting Vanessa at the 2012 Key West Literary Seminar, then ran an essay of hers (“First Job”) back when I was web editor with Prairie Schooner, and it’s been awesome watching her career blossom.

Curbside Splendor Publishing is still running a pre-order special as of right now–click over a grab a copy ASAP! She’s also booked quite a few dates on a tour–so check out her website to see if she’s coming to a city near you.

Growing up as the only daughter of a wealthy landowner in Santiago de Cali, Colombia, teenaged Mercedes Martinez knows a world of maids, armed guards, and private drivers. When she falls in love with Manuel, a fiery young activist with a passion for his faith and his country, she begins to understand the suffering of the desplazados who share her land. A startling discovery about her father forces Mercedes to doubt everything she thought she knew about her life, and she and Manuel make plans to run away together. But before they can, tragedy strikes in a single violent night. Mercedes flees Colombia for the United States and a life she never could have imagined. Fifteen years later, she returns to Colombia seeking the truth, but discovers that only more questions await. 

In the bristling, beautiful prose that won her an IPPY Gold Medal for her short story collection Train Shots, Vanessa Blakeslee’s Juventud explores the idealism of youth, the complexities of a ravaged country, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. 

Happy Book Birthday: Train Shots by Vanessa Blakeslee

Congrats are in order for Vanessa Blakeslee, whose collection of short stories, Train Shots, was released today by Burrow Press!

Vanessa is one of the great writers I met in Key West during KWLS 2012. It’s exciting to see so many of the crew from that year with books out. This is the fourth, I believe, if I haven’t missed anyone, with Eric Sasson having a novel forthcoming too. Truly exceptional work.

Here’s the jacket copy for Train Shots:

A single mother rents a fundamentalist preacher’s carriage house. A pop star contemplates suicide in the hotel where Janis Joplin died. A philandering ex-pat doctor gets hooked on morphine while reeling from his wife’s death. And in the title story, a train engineer, after running over a young girl on his tracks, grapples with the pervasive question–what propels a life toward such a disastrous end? Rendered in a style both generous and intelligent, the men and women at the center of these subtle stories are driven by their unusual predicaments and preoccupations. Rife with dark humor, Vanessa Blakeslee’s debut story collection illuminates the idiosyncratic and the mundane in energetic, bristling prose that marks the arrival of a powerful new voice.

Congrats, Vanessa!