Watershed by Mark Barr
"Barr displays impressive emotional depth in the depictions of Claire’s growing self-confidence and Nathan’s worrying. Readers looking for vivid historicals full of emotional turmoil in the vein of Wallace Stegner will enjoy this impressive novel." - Publishers Weekly
Set in 1937 in rural Tennessee, with the construction of a monumental dam serving as background—a cinematically biblical effort to harness elemental forces and bring power to the people—Watershed delivers a gripping story of characters whose ambitions and yearnings threaten to overflow the banks of their time and place.
"Mark Barr’s vivid and heartfelt Watershed is the most engrossing and assured debut I’ve read in a long, long time. It will leave you charged and enlightened. Mark Barr is a powerhouse." - Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek
Nathan, an engineer hiding from his past, and Claire, a small-town housewife, struggle to find their footing in the newly-electrified, job-hungry, post-Depression South. As Nathan wrestles with the burdens of a secret guilt and tangled love, Claire struggles to balance motherhood and a newfound freedom that awakens ambitions and a sexuality she hadn’t known she possessed.
"Mark Barr has an almost supernatural ability to make the past--both the physical and emotional realities of daily life--intimate and real. Written with uncommon humanity and grace, Watershed is a powerful reminder of how necessary those qualities are in our own time." - Kent Wascom, author of The New Inheritors
The arrival of electricity in the rural community—where violence, prostitution, and dog-fighting are commonplace—thrusts together the federal and local worlds, in an evocative feat of storytelling in the vein of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong, and Ron Rash’s Serena.
"Fluidly paced, unsettling yet graceful, Watershed is a riveting debut that never lets up. Barr packs these pages with incident and character and a deep emotional intelligence; this is one of those rare novels that hit you with such startling clarity that the events of the story feel like your own memories." - Kelly Luce, author of Pull Me Under