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by Wilkins, Joe

FALL BACK DOWN WHEN I DIE will appeal to readers of My Absolute Darling, Fourth of July Creek, and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Dark, haunting, and written in crystalline, stark prose, Fall Back Down When I Die is set in rural Montana and tells the story of the unbreakable bond between a young man and the abandoned boy put in his care, as old grievances of land and blood are visited upon them.

Wendell Newman, a young ranch hand in Montana, has recently lost his mother, leaving him an orphan, as his father met a violent end more than a decade earlier. His bank account holds less than a hundred dollars, and he owes back taxes on what remains of the land his parents owned, as well as money for the surgeries that failed to save his mother's life.

Into this situation comes seven-year-old Rowdy Burns, the illegitimate son of Wendell's cousin, who is incarcerated after falling prey to addiction. Traumatized, Rowdy is mute and damaged. Caring for him will be a test of Wendell's will and resolve, and yet he comes to love the boy more than he ever thought possible. That love will be stretched to the breaking point during the first legal wolf hunt in Montana in more than thirty years, when a murder results in a manhunt, and Wendell finds himself on the wrong side of a disaffected fringe group, hoping both to protect Rowdy and to avoid the same violent fate that claimed his father.

This dark and haunting debut novel is an unforgettable tale of sacrificial love, with two characters who win the reader's heart from the first page to the last.

Joe Wilkins's memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers, won the GLCA New Writers Award for nonfiction, and his work has appeared in the Georgia Review, the Harvard Review, and Slate, among many other periodicals. He is a Pushcart Prize winner and a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the PEN/USA Award. Wilkins lives with his wife and two children in western Oregon, where he teaches writing at Linfield College.

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The poetry of this beautiful novel isn't only in the language - and it's certainly in that - but also in Joe Wilkins's keen understanding of the Bull Mountains in eastern Montana, of the people who have left their mark on the land there, or tried to erase it, and of the mysterious complexities of the human heart that drive us to one side of the law or the other.

Quote: Elizabeth Crook, author of The Which Way Tree

Joe Wilkins is a writer of great power and heart, and Fall Back Down When I Die is a riveting and timely novel.

Quote: Jess Walter, National Book Award finalist and NYT bestselling author

France: Editions Gallmeister ; Spanish: Errata Naturae

Quote: Little, Brown

In an electric narrative that busts out in a rare rural poetry when you least expect it, this brilliant novel places red state zeitgeist and gray wolves squarely in its sights and, in the end, shoots both, to my grateful amazement, with deep understanding and compassion. What a balm, Joe Wilkins's eloquent voice of mercy calling out in the post-Western night.

Quote: David James Duncan, National Book Award finalist, author of The Brothers K

Fall Back Down When I Die is a masterpiece. Lean and authentic... A twenty-first-century western. In prose as rugged and beautiful as the story's Montana setting, Wilkins has written one of the best novels I've read in years. An absolutely stunning book in every way.

Quote: Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs

Joe Wilkins has risen to a very special peak with this heartrending novel of hard living and lonesome hope... I cannot praise it enough.

Quote: Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author

A heart-rending tale of family, love and violence... Through these characters, in a prose that can hum gently, then spark like a fire, Wilkins fashions a Western fable which spirals down to a tragic end. Following in the literary roots of Montanans Jim Harrison and Rick Bass, Wilkins packs a lot of story and stylistic wallop into this gripping, outstanding novel.

Review: Kirkus, starred review

Fall Back Down When I Die is populated by vibrant characters drawn with fairness and deep heart, boys and men, girls and women who will get under your skin and stay there, and is full of vivid descriptions of the Montana landscape that are spot-on and swoon-worthy.

Quote: Pam Houston, author

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