Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club

( 8 )

Overview

Winner of the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction!

Benjamin Alire Sáenz's stories reveal how all borders—real, imagined, sexual, human, the line between dark and light, addict and straight—entangle those who live on either side. Take, for instance, the Kentucky Club on Avenida Juárez two blocks south of the Rio Grande. It's a touchstone for each of Sáenz's stories. His characters walk by, they might go in for a drink or to score, or they might just stay there for a while and let...

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Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club

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Overview

Winner of the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction!

Benjamin Alire Sáenz's stories reveal how all borders—real, imagined, sexual, human, the line between dark and light, addict and straight—entangle those who live on either side. Take, for instance, the Kentucky Club on Avenida Juárez two blocks south of the Rio Grande. It's a touchstone for each of Sáenz's stories. His characters walk by, they might go in for a drink or to score, or they might just stay there for a while and let their story be told. Sáenz knows that the Kentucky Club, like special watering holes in all cities, is the contrary to borders. It welcomes Spanish and English, Mexicans and gringos, poor and rich, gay and straight, drug addicts and drunks, laughter and sadness, and even despair. It's a place of rich history and good drinks and cold beer and a long polished mahogany bar. Some days it smells like piss. "I'm going home to the other side." That's a strange statement, but you hear it all the time at the Kentucky Club.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a highly regarded writer of fiction, poetry, and children's literature. Like these stories, his writing crosses borders and lands in our collective psyche. Poets & Writers Magazine named him one of the fifty most inspiring writers in the world. He's been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and PEN Center's prestigious award for young adult fiction. Sáenz is the chair of the creative writing department of University of Texas at El Paso.

Awards:
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Lambda Literary Award
Southwest Book Award

Winner of the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award
Winner of the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sáenz's moving collection of short stories hinges on the intergenerational clientele of the titular borderland watering hole just south of the U.S.-Mexican divide on Avenida Juárez. In "The Rule Maker," a bilingual boy raised by his single mother in Juarez reflects on his childhood, being abandoned by his mother, and how he wound up across the border in El Paso with his previously estranged American father. Years later, before the boy departs for Georgetown University, he and his father grab their passports and head south for a drink "where your mother and I used to go." In "Sometimes the Rain," newly minted high school friends Ernesto and Brian drive down for a night out at the Kentucky Club and discover a bond neither of them expected, but one that would change them forever. As a prose stylist, Sáenz tends toward the melodramatic, but there's much to enjoy in these gritty, heartfelt stories. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"Sáenz's moving collection of short stories hinges on the intergenerational clientele of the titular borderland watering hole just south of the U.S.-Mexican divide on Avenida Juárez…there's much to enjoy in these gritty, heartfelt stories. — Publishers Weekly

"Seven excellent stories … [by] a versatile writer … Sàenz writes prose that is tender, occasionally fierce, and always engaging. Read every word of his stories lest you miss some clever twist, some subtle irony, some gentle nuance of poetic imagery that he has labored to create." — Booklist

"Seven stunningly evocative short stories … a haunting tableau of characters wrestling with the boons and burdens of existence … Saenz, with these masterfully hewn stories, presents this hardscrabble yet tenacious city as beautiful in its contradictions, disquieting in its ambiguities, and heartbreaking in its quotidianness. Filtered through this book are the lives of its singular people: doomed, broken, resourceful, and, above all else, faithful—to the city and to the parts they play in its intricate dimensions." — Texas Books in Review

"Though the prolific Benjamin Alire Sáenz has been writing books in every genre for the past two decades, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club is only his second short-story collection. But the wait was definitely worth it … [The story "He Has Gone to Be with the Women"] is nothing short of a masterpiece … In one story, a school counselor says the following about his troubled charges: "They came to me with a thirst in their eyes, a thirst, such a thirst and I knew that I could never give them the rain they deserved, the rain they so desperately needed." That might as well be The Kentucky Club speaking, since every protagonist in this heartbreaking collection of stories finds his way to a confession stool at the bar. They find no solutions to their ills, just a sensitive ear that has heard it all before but is willing to listen once again." — Rigoberto González, former president of the executive board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle, special to the El Paso Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935955320
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Pages: 180
  • Sales rank: 253,369
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Alire Sáenz was born in 1954 in Old Picacho, a small farming village outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico, forty-two miles north of the U.S. / Mexico border. He was the fourth of seven children and was brought up in a traditional Mexican-American Catholic family. He entered the seminary in 1972, a decision that was as much political as it was religious. After concluding his theological studies at the University of Louvain, he was ordained a Catholic priest. Three and a half years later, he left the priesthood.

At the age of 30, he entered the University of Texas at El Paso. He later received a fellowship at the University of Iowa. In 1988, he received a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship in poetry from Stanford University. In 1993, he returned to the border to teach in the bilingual MFA program at UTEP.

Sáenz is the author of a previous book of poetry, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award. Cinco Puntos published two of his other books of poetry called Elegies in Blue and the now out of print, Dark and Perfect Angels. His most recent book of poetry, The Book of What Remains, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2010.

He is the author of numerous novels, books for children and young adults as well as a previous collection of short stories. His award winning young adult novels are Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, and Last Night I Sang to the Monster. His adult novels include Carry Me Like Water, The House of Forgetting, In Perfect Light, and Names on a Map.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    Anonymous

    Interesting stories. Very imaginitive writer, well versed and good style of writing. Will certainly read more of his books.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    Info on Book

    Dear Anonymous: read the editor reviews on the next tab. It gives all the info you could want.

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    Avid reader

    The editorial reviews always tell more about the book. They made me want to read the book for sure! Sounds like interesting stories to be enjoyed.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    Really? Short blurb = no buy.

    Dear BN: do you really think that tiny blurb is enough to get mecto buy the book? Come on!

    2 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2013

    Not What I Expected

    I'm sad to say I did not enjoy this book. As a local in El Paso I expected the border life to come into play but all the stories had pure disturbing dysfunction which took a TINY place in The Kentucky Club and some local places. Many had gay crushes and relations. There was lots of violence, drug use and alchohol abuse. Overall it was not worth reading, I only finished it so I could be honest about my opinion.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    by mistake I just gave it a 5 star rating while clicking on the

    by mistake I just gave it a 5 star rating while clicking on the book in my libray while trying to delete it. I read it, but would only give it 3 stars. I would say why, but wouldn't be politically correct.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2013

    Wonderful & Thought Provoking

    I really enjoyed these stories they were honest and painful, no happy hollywood endings. Salud Benjamin!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    Excellent Collection

    I really enjoyed these well written stories.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

    Gfuikfe

    Mfmr

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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