Seventeen-year-old Joshua Gaines is the orphaned foster son of a failed doctor on the run from his father's debt. In 1849, he travels to Independence, Missouri and falls in with the mysterious, four-fingered Renard, and his companion, formerly-enslaved Free Ray. Joshua offers his medical expertise to their party, and together they embark on the fifteen-hundred mile overland journey to Gold Rush California.
Following the hardship, disease, and death on the trail, the company abandons panning the river in favor of robbery and murder. Engulfed by violence, the young doctor-turned-marauder must reckon with his own morality, his growing desire for the men around him, and the brutality that has haunted him all his life.
For fans of The Revenantand Ian McGuire's The North Water, Child in the Valley is a gorgeously rendered tale cut from the turmoil of a fledgling America. Gordy Sauer's careful eye and penetrating literary lens offers a modern, incisive look into the complexities of masculinity, isolation, and the impenetrable nature of greed.
Child in the Valley is vividly brutal and haunting, well beyond its subject matter. Gordy Sauer has a bright future ahead of him. --Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove
Set during the era of the California gold rush, Child in the Valley is the brutal telling of one man's journey as he travels west in the hope of changing his life's circumstance. Richly detailed and beautifully written, Sauer's novel is an examination of the lengths people are willing to go for the promise of the American dream. --LaTanya McQueen, author of When the Reckoning Comes
"Gordy Sauer is a serious talent, an assured voice reminiscent of Ian McGuire. Early in Child in the Valley there is some temptation to stop to marvel at the language, the vivid imagery, but the characters are real and the story compels, insists upon headlong reading. Unflinching and piercing, pungent with surprising details, Sauer's prose transports to a fully-realized 19th century frontier milieu, a violent, energetic, uncomfortable place and time." --James A. McLaughlin, Edgar Award-winning author of Bearskin
About our Speakers
Gordy Sauer is a native Texan and transplant Missourian. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and an MA from Clemson University. His writing has appeared in Narrative Magazine and Boulevard, among other places, and he received a 2013 artist's grant for residency at the Vermont Studio Center. A lifelong educator, he has taught snowboarding, fly fishing, middle school math and science, and now works as a speechwriter at Mizzou. He lives in Columbia, Missouri.
Michael Nye is the author of three books of fiction, most recently the story collection Until We Have Faces. His writing has appeared in Boulevard, Epoch, Kenyon Review, Lit Hub, and the Millions, among many others. He is the editor of Story.
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