Winner of The 2018 George Garrett Fiction Prize, selected by Michael Gills
Winner of the George Garrett Fiction Prize, Susan Lowell’s Two Desperados is a collection of southwest-flavored stories that feature a blacksmith, several smugglers, a mule, a jaguar, a runaway groom, a murderess, a witch, a basket weaver, a Gremlin, three cowboys, and a ghost. Settings range from a grand university library to a construction site, from an apocalyptic dream world to the coyote-haunted banks of the Rio Grande. A novella called “Captain Death” traces a journalist’s odyssey along the U.S.-Mexico border. Another novella, “Two Desperados,” follows a prodigal daughter’s return to her eccentric Arizona home. And although they grapple with love and death, many members of this motley gang still manage to find sparkles in the darkness and a few crazy moments of grace.
These eighteen stories play a few games with traditional short story form, but by and large they remain in the realism camp—yet it is realism tweaked or enlivened with an occasional sprinkle of magic or a small electric zap. In length they range from a few words to many pages, from the brief text of a bumper sticker to a full-scale novella. In the words of Apuleius, author of The Golden Ass: “Reader! Pay attention! You’re going to enjoy yourself!”
About the Author
SUSAN LOWELL is the author of nineteen books for adults and children, including The Three Little Javelinas, now a southwestern children’s classic, and Ganado Red: A Novella and Stories, which won the Milkweed Editions National Fiction Award. Her short stories have appeared in the Southern Review, American Fiction, and the online Saturday Evening Post. A fourth-generation Arizonan born in Chihuahua, Mexico, she divides her time between Tucson and a ranch on the border.
“Two Desperados crosses the border between tradition and experiment, order and chaos, and the wild and woolly lands where languages blur and state and federal lines have no meaning. Much in the tradition of the namesake of this award and the founding editor who first made it happen, this book is full of piss and vinegar, not to be missed.” —Michael Gills
“In 1988, Susan Lowell’s prize-winning story collection, Ganado Red, was hailed as the work of ‘one of the most exciting new female voices to rise out of the Southwest.’ She is no longer a new writer but remains an exciting one, as she shows in this collection of eleven stories, also set in the starkly beautiful landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico. TwoDesperados showcases the wide range of her literary voice. Whether her subject is an aging, eccentric poet, a mountain lion hunter, or a wayward young woman struggling to bring order to her chaotic life, Lowell sings, and sings thrillingly, every note on the scale, from the experimental to the traditional. A beguiling wit sparkles on every page, and the title story is a diamond. This book is, very simply, a delight to read.” —Philip Caputo, author of, Some Rise By Sin and Hunter’s Moon.