ISBN 1-879378-33-7 (paperback)
122 pages, $15.
"I emerged from the desert after being haunted by ghosts picked up over the previous weeks. I was headed southeast towards the Colorado River and had a vague notion that walking among people would prevent a descent into delirium. I drove the highway as if pursued, yet the barren terrain was a part of my world—silent desolation infused in my blood. I pressed the gas pedal and edged my car around the bends of a canyon and then drifted down through a cholla-studded arroyo. The midday sun burnished cactus needles into radiant shades of yellow and gold, and the air was filled with the aroma of sage."
Photo from the book cover by M. Chernier
Thus begins Blue Ride, a collection of stories that itself emerges from the desert roads and outback towns of the American Southwest. Written both with compassion and resigned irony, the fifteen pieces present raw and grungy characters looking for trouble or killing time with tequila, horny barflies demanding immediate action, desperate artists destroying themselves in their flight from convention, young hikers and lovers escaping into nature, a boozy detective caught in a waste of violent lowlifes, loners and drifters chasing the moon and longing to merge with the night. And not only these lost souls, but the desert itself, with its changing colors and smells, its heat and dryness and grainy severity, its cacti, its creatures, its ruins, its mysterious Indian petroglyphs, its bleakness and purity. Rarely has such a large, but unfamiliar area of American life found such a fresh and textured expression—the product, as the author puts it, of "a transitory style of life."
"Wilkerson writes like a Quentin Tarantino movie. There's always a folded-back-on-itself plot, ugly, bewitched settings, weirdly memorable characters and plenty of local color/dialects... Wilkerson is a very evocative word-painter... Once you start reading one of these stories/sketches, a powerful kineticism kicks in and that makes it difficult to stop."
~ Small Press Review
Ken Wilkerson traces his ancestry to the Scottish Highlands, but lives in the California desert, where he has devoted a significant portion of his life to roaming the back roads and forgotten trails. He has researched the desert tribes and Early Man period, walked the Chemehuevi "Salt Song" trail and camped in old village sites from the Mexican border to the Upper Mojave. Working over the years in cities as diverse as Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Yuma, Twenty-nine Palms, Lake Havasu, El Centro and Palm Springs, he has collected enough stories and characters to fill many a volume. The people, places and events described in Blue Ride are all drawn in one way or another from his real-life explorations.Story titles from Blue Ride:
Rumble Border Queen Fade Low Zone Lost & Away Edge of Descent
Midnight Thunder Under the Sun Incident at Cap Rock Pierre Idle Roomers
The Crash Bitter Rain Shadows of Dusk Blue Ride
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