Author: James Anderson
Hardcover: 288 pages
Published: February 15th 2015
By: Caravel Mystery Books
BEN JONES, the protagonist of James Anderson s haunting debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner (Caravel Books, February, 2015), is on the verge of losing his small trucking company. A single, thirty-eight-year-old truck driver, Ben s route takes him back and forth across one of the most desolate and beautiful regions of the Utah desert. The orphan son of a Native American father and a Jewish social worker, Ben is drawn into a love affair with a mysterious woman, Claire, who plays a cello in the model home of an abandoned housing development in the desert. Her appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, reignites a decades-old tragedy at a roadside café referred to by the locals as The Never-Open Desert Diner. The owner of the diner, Walt Butterfield, is an embittered and solitary old man who refuses to yield to change after his wife s death. Ben s daily deliveries along the atmospheric and evocative desert highway bring him into contact with an eccentric cast of characters that includes: John, an itinerant preacher who drags a life-sized cross along the blazing roadside; the Lacey brothers, Fergus and Duncan, who live in boxcars mounted on cinderblocks; and Ginny, a pregnant and homeless punk teenager whose survival skills make her an unlikely heroine. Ben s job as a truck driver is more than a career; it is a life he loves. As he faces bankruptcy and the possible loss of everything that matters to him, he finds himself at the heart of a horrific crime that was committed forty years earlier and now threatens to destroy the lives of those left in its wake. Ben discovers the desert is relentless in its grip, and what the desert wants, it takes. An unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben learns the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations. The Never-Open Desert Diner is a unique blend of literary mystery and noir fiction that evokes a strong sense of place. It is a story that holds the reader and refuses to let go and will linger long after the last page.
I *thought* I had reviewed this book but apparently I somehow forgot, which is a surprise because the book is a really great one! My dad is a truck driver so in some of the things I can relate simply by going to work with him when I was a kid. This book begins with a man who seems to be hiding in the desert, away from his feelings, we are then introduced to several other characters, all of whom have their own degree of mystery. The book is well written, a fun and easy read and one I am excited to keep on my shelf. I have an uncorrected proof that was sent to me in exchange for my honest review so I won’t go into detail in case edits were made. Overall five stars and a thumbs up!
About the Author
James Anderson was born in Seattle, Washington and raised in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. He received his undergraduate degree in American Studies from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and his Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Boston Massachusetts.
Undergraduate thesis: Word-man/Poet: The Poetry and Poetics of Lew Welch
Masters thesis: The Never-Entered Kingdom: Beyond Linguistics in the Rendering of the Literary Child in Adult Fiction
His first publication in a national magazine, a poem entitled Running It Down, occurred at age nineteen, in Poetry Northwest. The poem was later anthologized. His poems, short fiction, essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in Northwest Review, New Letters, The Bloomsbury Review, Solstice Magazine and many others.
In 1974, while still an undergraduate, Anderson founded Breitenbush Books, a book publisher specializing in literature and general interest trade titles. From 1974 to 1991 Anderson served as publisher and executive editor. Breitenbush received many awards for its books, including three Western States Book Awards, juried by Robert Penn Warren, Elizabeth Hardwick, N. Scott Momaday, Jonathan Galassi, Jorie Graham, Denise Levertov, William Kittredge and others. Notable authors published include Mary Barnard, Bruce Berger, Clyde Rice, Naomi Shihab Nye, Michael Simms, William Greenway, John Stoltenberg, Sam Hamill and Gary Miranda.
From 1995 to 2002 Anderson co-produced documentary films, including Tara’s Daughters, narrated by Susan Sarandon. The film, which won Best Documentary at the New York Film Festival, chronicled the plight of Tibetan women refugees as carriers of Tibetan culture in the diaspora.