Valley Fever (Farrar Strauss Giroux)
A razor-sharp, cross-generational tragicomedy set in California's wine-soaked Central Valley.
Ingrid Palamede never returns to places she's lived in the past. For her, "whole neighborhoods, whole cities, can be ruined by the reasons you left." But when a breakup leaves her heartbroken and homeless, she's forced to return to her childhood home of Fresno, California. Back in the "real" wine country, where grapes are grown for mass producers like Gallo and Kendall-Jackson, Ingrid must confront her aging parents and their financial woes, soured friendships, and blissfully bad decisions. But along the way, she rediscovers her love for the land, her talent for harvesting grapes, and a deep fondness and forgiveness for the very first place she ever left.
With all the sharp-tongued wit of her first novel, Rules for Saying Goodbye, Katherine Taylor examines high-class, small-town life among the grapes--on the vine or soaked in vodka--in Valley Fever, a blisteringly funny, ferociously intelligent, and deeply moving novel of self-discovery.
Praise for Valley Fever:
“Valley Fever goes straight to the heart of it: How are we supposed to live? How to jump through those hoops of fire known as love and work and family, and hopefully emerge with body and soul more or less intact. Or even--dare I say it?--to come through with some measure of peace in ourselves. Katherine Taylor's unflinching novel takes on the big stuff, and does so with an empathy and insight that reward the closest reading. This superb book succeeds on every level."
– Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
“In Katherine Taylor’s stirring and sneakily capacious novel, what begins as a family romance widens out to be nothing less than a portrait of the knotty, complicated relationship between land and the people who make it their life’s work to nurture and sometimes exploit it. Heartbreak comes in the form of relentless heat, ravaging dust, and a perfect grape left to wither on the vine, and the undoing of a once proud family vineyard becomes as potent a tale of love and betrayal as any I’ve recently read. Taylor’s prose is sharp, rueful, hilarious and crackling with life. Her characters' raw, unsentimental affairs with one another and with the earth they till will stay with you long after you’ve left the book’s pages behind.” – Marisa Silver, author of Mary Coin
Katherine Taylor is the author of the novels Valley Fever and Rules for Saying Goodbye. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Elle, Town & Country, ZYZZYVA, The Southwest Review and Ploughshares, among other publications. She has won a Pushcart Prize and the McGinnis Ritchie Award for Fiction. She has a B.A. from University of Southern California and a master’s degree from Columbia University, where she was a Graduate Writing Fellow. Katherine lives in Los Angeles.
Matthew Specktor is the author of the novels American Dream Machine and That Summertime Sound. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, the Paris Review, Tin House, The Believer, and numerous other periodicals and anthologies. He is a founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Specktor photo taken by Lisa Jane Persky