Don Waters, author of “Sunland,” will be the May speaker at the Cannon Beach Library’s Northwest Author series, Saturday, May 9 at 2 p.m., at the library. There is no charge and the public is welcome.
“Sunland” is the story of a mid-30s man between jobs and short on funds, who moves back to Tuscon to take care of his beloved grandmother. Finding his grandmother’s pharmacy drugs much cheaper across the border, he becomes a prescription drug mule, and in doing so, this book takes us across all kinds of borders between Mexico and the USA, youth and age, faith and betrayal, legal and outlaw, sober and stoned. Reviewers comment that the writing is gorgeous, the characters ring true on every page, and the story hurtles along with many a hairpin twist and turn. Waters, also author of a story collection, “Desert Gothic,” sneaks some serious issues into what is most often a lighthearted, sometimes zany account of a compassionate man who cares about his elderly clients, keeps meticulous records of the meds he supplis them, and genuinely enjoys their company.
Waters won the Iowa Short Fiction Award for his story collection, Desert Gothic, and has spent years living in the Southwest desert, which is evident through his beautiful description of the harsh, unforgiving and often gorgeous landscape. His eye for detail is honed. One reviewer notes that “reading the passages set in the borderlands makes one feel parched.”
The real achievement of the novel “Sunland,” however, is the way Waters develops fully is main characters, as several reviewers note. Don Waters has been anthologized in the Pushcart Prize, “Best of the West,” and “New Stories from the Southwest.” A frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, he has also written for The New York Times Book Review, Outside, The Believer, and Slate, among other publications. He is a graduate of Skidmore College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Originally from Reno, Nevada, he now lives in Portland.