Colin Winnette – Haints Stay
Colin Winnette’s Haints Stay (Two Dollar Radio) is a western like you’ve never read before. The book follows Brooke and Sugar, who we meet at the start of the book in a manner that will seem familiar to anyone who’s encountered the genre before. “They had finished a job,” Winnette writes. “They were empties of bullets and powder. They were satisfied men.” But if Haints Stay seems like a straightforward shoot-‘em-up on the first page, things grow far more complicated, and more thought provoking, by the second—with about two hundred to go.
Brooke and Sugar are brothers, but Sugar is also pregnant—a development which not only challenges the conventions of the western genre, but cracks open new possibilities for the form, showing us how it can let writers and readers alike explore not just gender and trans identity, but themes of violence, scale, choice, fate, and chaos. Brooke and Sugar’s world also widens to include Bird, a mysterious foundling; John, the creator of a fragile and peaceable world within the ruthless expanse Brooke and Sugar roam through; among others. The world Winnette builds in Haints Stay is both blood-soaked and beautiful. Reading it means encountering a realm of terrifying possibility, and coming to grips with the fact that terror and possibility are inextricably linked.
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