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<< Back to Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club

Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club

Nelly Rosario, judge for 2013 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction
In Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club, Benjamin Alire-Sáenz uses the straightest lines of language to encircle the muted light inside each of his narrators. Their collective voices speak artlessly, as wisdom does, and ask us to listen for the borderless poetry of the spirit. To sit with Alire-Sáenz under the dimmed lights of The Kentucky Club is to lend an ear to a writer who has surrendered you the alphas and omegas of his heart.
- March 19, 2013  Visit Website
Publishers Weekly
Sáenz's moving collection of short stories hinges on the intergenerational clientele of the titular borderland watering hole just south of the U.S.-Mexican divide on Avenida Juárez…there's much to enjoy in these gritty, heartfelt stories.
- September 24, 2012  Visit Website
Seven excellent stories … [by] a versatile writer … Sŕenz writes prose that is tender, occasionally fierce, and always engaging. Read every word of his stories lest you miss some clever twist, some subtle irony, some gentle nuance of poetic imagery that he has labored to create.
The publisher describes these seven excellent stories as being about borders. That is certainly true as far as it goes, but it is equally true that these stories have even more to do with boundaries—the boundaries people set to protect themselves from physical or emotional harm, the ones that people cross in order to survive, or the ones they cross to intrude or intervene in someone else’s life. Sŕenz’s tales are about the arbitrary boundaries that society sets and the ones children build against a world they don’t understand. In today’s political climate, one that is awash in ideology surrounding national borders, Sŕenz’s all-too-human characters transcend political polarization despite living within it. A versatile writer who has won major fellowships and awards, especially for his young adult and children’s titles, Sŕenz writes prose that is tender, occasionally fierce, and always engaging. Read every word of his stories lest you miss some clever twist, some subtle irony, some gentle nuance of poetic imagery that he has labored to create.
- Donna Chavez, September 7, 2012  Visit Website
The El Paso Times
Though the prolific Benjamin Alire Sáenz has been writing books in every genre for the past two decades, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club is only his second short-story collection. But the wait was definitely worth it … [The story "He Has Gone to Be with the Women"] is nothing short of a masterpiece … In one story, a school counselor says the following about his troubled charges: "They came to me with a thirst in their eyes, a thirst, such a thirst and I knew that I could never give them the rain they deserved, the rain they so desperately needed." That might as well be The Kentucky Club speaking, since every protagonist in this heartbreaking collection of stories finds his way to a confession stool at the bar. They find no solutions to their ills, just a sensitive ear that has heard it all before but is willing to listen once again.
- Rigoberto González, October 7, 2012  Visit Website
San Antonio Express-News
The legendary [Kentucky Club], says author Benjamin Alire Sáenz, is where people go when they're in trouble, when they're looking for trouble or when they're trying to get out of trouble. That's the underlying theme of the stories in the new collection Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club. The first, “He Has Gone to Be With the Women,” underscores why Poets & Writers Magazine named Sáenz one of its 50 most inspiring writers.
- Elaine Ayala, December 8, 2013  Visit Website
Texas Books in Review
"Seven stunningly evocative short stories … a haunting tableau of characters wrestling with the boons and burdens of existence … Saenz, with these masterfully hewn stories, presents this hardscrabble yet tenacious city as beautiful in its contradictions, disquieting in its ambiguities, and heartbreaking in its quotidianness. Filtered through this book are the lives of its singular people: doomed, broken, resourceful, and, above all else, faithful—to the city and to the parts they play in its intricate dimensions."
- James Wright, 

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