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News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles–whose latest novel Simon the Fiddler is available at Collected Works–has published numerous works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction over the course of her distinguished literary career. News of the World is one of Jiles’ more recent works of western fiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2016.

Clocking in at just over 200 pages, News of the World is brief, relentlessly paced and poignant. Jiles is a self-proclaimed lover of detail, and researches her source material with a meticulousness that other authors probably don’t take the time to do. As a result, her writing is brimming with description, but not in a ‘beat you over the head’ Dickensian way. Rather, the concise and immaculate use of detail–whether it is describing the landscape, an action scene, or a human emotion–helps the narrative move along at a brisk pace.

News of the World is the story of two seemingly disparate souls. Fate intervenes one rainy night in Texas and the two are forced to journey onward together. One of the travelers is Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd. Having lived through three wars, he is reaching the twilight of his life; he now finds himself searching for freedom, belonging and purpose. Kidd’s companion (without spoiling too much) is a ten year old girl who is at the beginning of her life agewise, yet has endured more than any person can imagine.

The journey is both physical and existential. As they progress through the rugged, unforgiving Texas landscape, they inevitably build a timid but honest feeling of trust and raw emotional connection. This is where Jiles’ concise writing shines most bright. Her ability to convey truthful human interaction while also depicting a vivid, transportive landscape while ALSO presenting a rich tapestry of this era in American history is a treat to read.

Review by Joel

$15.99 Trade Paperback

News of the World is in stock at the bookstore, you can order it online or call us at (505) 988-4226.

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