So grateful to Dane and everyone at Dock Street Press for all their hard work. They put together a gorgeous little book (see above), and I can’t wait for this baby to get out there in the world.
And here’s what some wonderful writers I greatly admire had to say about it:
“A shotgun marriage between classic and revisionist Western, Mesilla sings a hard-bitten practicality and brutal authenticity.” —Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes
“In a mounting gush of sumptuous prose, Robert James Russell’s Mesilla scrubs bare the elements of the classic Western—the wounded, questing hero, the damsel in distress, the shoot-outs, the relationship with the horse, the murderous, phantasmal villain in hot pursuit—and reinvents them as existential meditation. In exhilarating fashion, Russell often turns his lens from these tropes to focus on the ever-looming natural world, the components of which shake off all of the beautiful names we’ve attached to them; in Russell’s old West, the rocks and trees and grasses and rivers bear witness to our tragedies only because we tell ourselves that they do. If McCarthy and Emerson collaborated on a novella, solicited Herman Hesse to edit it, Jim Jarmusch to film it, and Leonard Cohen to do the score, the result might capture some of the elusive seductiveness of Russell’s work. —Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Preparing the Ghost and The Mad Feast
“If Albert Camus had written Westerns, they might have sounded something like Robert James Russel’s Mesilla. Tough as rawhide, coiled like a diamond back, and spare as the New Mexico desert, this taut novel is as loaded as the Dance revolver its wounded hero wields. Russell is a writer on the rise, with a voice and vision sure to entrance every reader who lays eyes on this book. I’m already pining away for his next one. —Peter Geye, author of The Lighthouse Road and Safe from the Sea
“Robert James Russel’s Mesilla reads like young James Lee Burke—action so sharp readers might as well pull their fingers from the page looking for blood. A fine story of revenge in the old west, salvation hoped for, but not easily achieved. —Urban Waite, author of Sometimes the Wolf
“Spare, unforgiving, relentless, beautiful. Those words describe three things: the New Mexico desert landscape in 1863, the plot of Mesilla, and Robert James Russell’s language which never seems to break a sweat on the novella’s pages. Mesilla is a welcome return to the western novels of Elmore Leonard, with a cinematic touch of Sergio Leone along the way, as a bullet-riddled man flees his former friend bent on exacting vengeance, no matter the cost. Mesilla is a short novel, but one which will stretch long in my memory. You may come for the exciting chase scenes, but you’ll stay for the thoughtful way Russell probes the human condition.” —David Abrams, author of Fobbit