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What is a desert? Is it a haven, a refuge, a sanctuary, or rather a place where all the world's evil has infinite reach? The things and people you encounter may or may not be trustworthy, but your experiences are sure to leave a lasting mark.
Infinite Desert captures the ambiguity of seemingly unbounded space where, as the poet William Bronk understood, it is hard to explain what “here” means. The stories in this book chart the wanderings of myriad characters who have ended up in the remotest of places by accident or design. In “The Quest,” the head of a quixotic campaign seeks to reconstruct the obscure early passages of the life of the political figure he serves. In “The Gift,” a farmer’s intransigence imperils the peaceful coexistence of settlers and aborigines in the Outback. In “Visionary,” an unexpected interlude on a traveler’s route to a coastal city sows suspicions about the provenance of a more successful classmate’s paintings. In “Speed Demons,” the deserts of Southern California turn into an arena for far more than drag-racing when a wealthy computer science student meets youths with a different kind of education in mind.
These are just a few of the stories conveying the vision of a unique American voice. The topics of Michael Washburn’s latest collection are timely, the tone serious but not without sardonic humor, and the writing as elegant, vivid, and powerful as any work this writer has done.
Publishing date: September 15, 2021
Paperback: 238 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
Michael Washburn is a Brooklyn-based writer and journalist. His books include The Uprooted and Other Stories, When We’re Grownups, and Stranger, Stranger. His short story “Confessions of a Spook” won Causeway Lit’s 2018 fiction contest, and another of his stories, “In the Flyover State,” was named a Distinguished Mystery Story of 2014 by Best American Mystery Stories. He is the host of the weekly “Reading the Globe” podcast.