The Formalist Fiction Writer
D. Star Costello’s review of The Goodbye House appeared in the January-February issue of American Book Review. “The Goodbye House is a novel that strips away the gloss of the American Dream and reveals the everyday people struggling underneath.”
I spoke about novels, novellas, teaching, and the season of significance with Misha Rai of Southeast Review.
“There are some books when, after you finish them, leave you breathless, quiet, and thoughtful. Camp Olvido stunned me into silence. I sat there with this universe in my hand for the longest time.”
Camp Olvido was named one of the best novellas of 2015 by David Abrams at The Quivering Pen. The list included Mesilla, by Robert James Russell, and On the Island at the Center of the Center of the World, by Elizabeth Kadetsky.
In its most recent issue, Mid-American Review said this of Camp Olvido: “In taut vibrant prose, [he] weaves together the desperation, monotony, and violence of a 1930s labor camp in California.”
Midwest Book Review featured Camp Olvido in its December Bookwatch. “A fully absorbing novella by a true master of the storytelling arts, Camp Olvido by novelist Lawrence Coates is a highly recommended and deftly crafted literary work that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf.”
The University of Utah’s Alumni Connection featured Camp Olvido in their Reading Room feature.
In the California heartland in 1932, at a migrant labor camp whose very name means “forgotten,” a child’s sudden illness leads to tensions between workers wishing to break camp and the land barons enforcing their contracts. Into this dispute, Esteban Alas—contrabandista and self-styled businessman—is reluctantly drawn as a mediator, until an act of violence forces him into a more tragic role.
Library Journal wrote of Camp Olvido: This starkly beautiful work delivers a sense of entrapment most of us can barely imagine.
Frances Brent, of the Sentinel – Tribune, calls The Goodbye House a winner.
“Like its predecessors the setting (of The Goodbye House) is California’s ever redefined Santa Clara Valley. Once orchards and vineyards thrived. The farmland is now the Silicon Valley of modern mythology with technology the failing or bumper crop. In 2003 its citizens are enduring the melancholy of 9/11 and the dot com collapse. It is an era of lowered expectations. The mood is nostalgic – not sentimental. The past is recognized, honored, unmourned. Coates’ achievement – a universal, at times comic, modern family tale weaving time and setting into action.”
Sentinel – Tribune, October 28, 2015
“A novel both of homecoming and leave-taking, The Goodbye House, with its blue-and-white clouds cover, illuminates with a generous spirit the life of a family and a region during a time of change.”
Zoom News, September 24, 2015