"A thunderclap of originality, here is a fresh voice and fresh take on one of the oldest stories we tell about ourselves as Americans and Westerners. It's riveting in all the right ways -- a damn good read that stayed with me long after closing the covers." - Timothy Egan, New York Times bestselling author of The Worst Hard Time
From a blazing new voice in fiction, a gritty and lyrical American epic about a young woman who disguises herself as a boy and heads west
In the spring of 1885, seventeen-year-old Jessilyn Harney finds herself orphaned and alone on her family's homestead. Desperate to fend off starvation and predatory neighbors, she cuts off her hair, binds her chest, saddles her beloved mare, and sets off across the mountains to find her outlaw brother Noah and bring him home. A talented sharpshooter herself, Jess's quest lands her in the employ of the territory's violent, capricious Governor, whose militia is also hunting Noah--dead or alive.
Wrestling with her brother's outlaw identity, and haunted by questions about her own, Jess must outmaneuver those who underestimate her, ultimately rising to become a hero in her own right.
Told in Jess's wholly original and unforgettable voice, Whiskey When We're Dry is a stunning achievement, an epic as expansive as America itself--and a reckoning with the myths that are entwined with our history.
About the Author
John Larison earned an MFA from Oregon State University in 2007. During the eight years he was writing Whiskey When We're Dry, he worked as a fly-fishing guide, a college writing instructor, and a freelance contributor to outdoor magazines. He lives with his family in rural Oregon.
"An orphan girl straight out of a Gillian Welch song, betrayed in every way imaginable by the brutality that 'won the West,' is left no way to hew a family or honor but to become a virtuoso cross-dressed killer of Manifest Destiny's men. As Jessilyn Harney takes on the great lies and liars with lyrical violence, her voice takes flight, becoming a sustained, forlornly beautiful, mind-bending aria for our age." – David James Duncan, author of The River Why
"Whiskey When We're Dry is the story of a surprising heroine. In her search for home and family, orphaned Jessilyn Harney rides out on a lonely quest, and invents herself anew. Narrated in a voice cobbled out of slang and sagebrush, Larison's novel is a vivid and fast-paced frontier saga." – Kate Manning, author of My Notorious Life
“True Grit meets Yentl in Larison’s evocative debut…. Larison has developed a pitch-perfect voice for his intrepid heroine…. [this] is a winning tale of sexual identity in the Old West.”—Publishers Weekly
“Larison’s neo-Western, about a young woman who heads West while disguised as a boy, is already generating plenty of buzz: film and TV rights have already been acquired by the team behind the Planet of the Apes reboot.” —Entertainment Weekly
"Larison gifts Jess with a strong voice to narrate her own story…. his western epic has wide appeal” – Booklist
“Told in -Jessilyn’s hard-hitting voice, [WHISKEY WHEN WE’RE DRY] has the resonance of a high lonesome ballad.” – Library Journal