Published by Two Dollar Radio on June 2nd 2015
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Brothers Brooke and Sugar roam from town to town, killing on contract, when they encounter a boy unable to remember where he came from. They give him the name Bird and bring him along on their journey, which takes the trio in different and unexpected directions.
Though Haints Stay‘s ambiguous setting feels familiar, it isn’t quite the dry, dusty Western we’ve come to know. Brutal violence replaces the pop of guns and surprises hide on nearly every page. Starting with the early reveal that Sugar was born female but lives life as a man, Winnette gives his characters fascinating depth and masterfully pushes the novel far outside the genre’s boundaries.
“But he had not learned the stars. He had not even tried. He might have tried more, he thought. He might have retained a few things here and there, instead of always just doing what he was good at and never learning anything. He cursed himself for being good at things that got you by.”
Winnette’s staccato style works well for highlighting the lives of quiet men more comfortable with killing than conversation. And much like those quiet killers, there’s a more complex beauty behind the simplicity: “…Brooke counted the stars until he fell asleep and woke blinded by the one.” With Haints Stay, Colin Winnette encourages us to embrace the unexpected, as gritty, violent, and dark as it may be.