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Gold Fame Citrus

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  8,069 ratings  ·  1,359 reviews
In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Most “Mojavs,” prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Hold ...more
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Riverhead Books
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Tommi Tarantula wasps are real. Don't know if they sting people, though.
Tarantula wasps are real. Don't know if they sting people, though.

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Average rating 3.30  · 
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 ·  8,069 ratings  ·  1,359 reviews

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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Whew. This is gonna make some people angry. Audiences don't always take well to certain nuances of characters' character, creations neither despicable nor admirable, especially in scenarios begging for a hero. Sometimes the nuance of the character is that he or she is, in certain regards, simple or selfish or superficial or mentally weak, or all of the above. This can be pot-stirring particularly in the case of a female character. All the female characters in this case, and many of the males, as ...more
Angela M
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it

This might sound odd , but this is a beautifully written novel about an ugly scenario. I was taken from the beginning by the exceptional writing. The descriptions made me thirsty and my skin felt dry and I could feel the gritty sand. I was taken from the beginning with Luz , who was a model before the devastation and the ambassador of sorts as a child for the conservation movement, and Ray , an AWOL soldier, and then with little Ig when she finds them .

The eeriness is present from the beginning
Elyse  Walters
Oct 15, 2015 rated it liked it
"Nature had refused to offer herself to them. The water, the green, the mammalian, the tropical,
the semitropical, the leafy, the verdant, the motherloving citrus, all of it was denied them
and had been denied them so long that with each day, each project, it became more and more
impossible to conceive of a time when it had not been denied them. The prospect of
Mother Nature opening her legs and inviting Los Angeles back into her ripeness was, like the
disks of water shimmering in the last foothill r
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Yikes! I really didn't like this book, which is a shame as unlike many of the reviewers here, I paid for it. In hardback. Damn! I feel like such a sucker.

The plot is basically this - a vapid couple roams the barren wasteland that used to be southern California. Then a child changes everything (as all parents learn) and sets them on the run for a better, safer life elsewhere. Sounds intriguing, right? I plunked down my monies based on that description. But despite the life and death struggles, I
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Okay, so I have to admit that I really didn't like this book. I wanted to like it, and I liked tiny bits of it (its phantasmagorical menagerie of desert beasts in the middle, its Nabokovian catalog of fake reality shows, its chapter about the mole man who stirs creamer into his coffee with his claws). I also liked its deep recognition that parenting represents staking a claim in the future, struggling with the necessities of the present (diapers! binkies! milk!), and dreading the revelation of a ...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
The American Southwest has completely run out of water. The new ocean covering vast areas is now made of sand, mountains are sandstone, and Californians who once came for fame, gold or citrus are now called Mohaves. Many moving Eastward are taken to relocation camps, but not all leave. Luz, once known as baby Dunn, a poster child form failed conservation movement is one. She meets Ray and for a while they live in an abandoned stars mansion, until they misappropriate a child and want a better cha ...more
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
They say the past always repeats itself and this was like a hallucinogenic history of California (hence the title) reorganised to take place in a dystopian future when climate change has done its worst and it’s stopped raining in California. Most of its inhabitants have been evacuated east. Luz and Ray, like many other social misfits, have stayed on. Luz is a damaged former child star; her partner Ray is an equally damaged war veteran on the run from the authorities. Luz reads biographies of the ...more
I just can't at the moment.

Every line needs to be interpreted, and I've just now struggled through 16 pages that read like they're out of some overly pretentious, blind person's... Encyclopaedia...

And people have said that this is where it SLOWS DOWN? It gets SLOWER than this?

I can't even.

I may come back to it, but now it's a DNF.
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2016
Ominous, foreboding book about a not-so-distant future where the west has become a drought-blasted wasteland of glittering, shifting sand dunes that swallow everything in their path. Most of Arizona, California and Nevada have been evacuated north and east, but pockets of people remain, eking out an existence and subsisting on rationed cola, crackers and black-market produce. Ray and Luz are squatters in a starlet's abandoned Los Angeles mansion. They attend a "raindance" one night (think a rave ...more
Julie Christine
I fear the vast dimensions of eternity.
Ciaran Carson, "Fear" 1948

In Claire Vaye Watkins's searing debut novel, Gold Fame Citrus, fear is vast. It is blistering hot, white, shifting, a thing massive and predatory, greedy and indiscriminate. It is the desert, one we have created by draining the West of its water, by changing the climate, forcing Nature to turn her back, jealously guarding her Rain. Fear has a name. It is the Amargosa Dune Sea.

Set in a future close enough to see if we shade o
Nadine Jones
This was a really distasteful book.

Everyone in this book is damaged. But they are not strong and damaged, they are not healing from damage, they are not fighting their ways back into life. They are destructive, seeking to damage more. They damage themselves, they damage each other.

There is nothing meaningful here, nothing uplifting, nothing to learn. it goes nowhere. It's just grimy.

Maybe I'm just not smart enough to get it.

And the writing? The writing is quite good, I guess, except the author
Connie G
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gold, fame, and citrus were the enticements that drew people across the country to California. But the state of California in this dystopian novel is experiencing extreme drought and high winds, resulting in a reverse of the migration in "The Grapes of Wrath". Some states have closed their borders, and the last of the evacuation buses have left for the east. The few holdouts in the parched area survive on "ration cola", black market provisions, and goods looted from abandoned houses.

Luz and Ray
Ron Charles
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
There’s no denying that the climate of literary fiction has changed to reflect the new environmental reality. Some of the finest writers — T.C. Boyle, Barbara Kingsolver, Lydia Millet and others — have dramatized our era’s challenge in stories that are both global and intimate. Now add to their work Claire Vaye Watkins’s searing debut novel about the barren world that awaits us.

“Gold Fame Citrus” opens in Los Angeles at a moment not too far off when the Southwest is bone dry. In this “ruined hea
Nora Grenfell
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Gold Fame Citrus had every hallmark of my kind of book -- social commentary on climate change, a flawed female protagonist, experimental narrative style -- but I was never able to get into it. I've never needed a linear plot, but the jumping around from group of characters to found documents, from third person to first person plural narrator, it all ended up removing me from the novel. It felt at times too broad in its scope and at times too narrow. The descriptive prose was stunning, but it did ...more
(Nearly 4.5) Gold, fame, citrus: reasons people once came to California. Now, only a desperate remnant remains in this waterless wasteland. Luz and Ray squat in a starlet’s abandoned mansion and live off of Luz’s modeling money – she was once the environmental movement’s poster child, “Baby Dunn.” When they take charge of a baby called Ig, however, their priorities change. They set off for the strangely beautiful sea of dunes, the Amargosa, leaving behind the ‘frying pan’ of exposure to the elem ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dystopia
In a haunting vision of the near future, inexorable draught and desert sands have laid waste to the mystical southwestern desert and the once shining beacon of California that at one time held a promise of gold, fame and citrus to dreamers. Those who are still alive there survive on cola rations and black market fruit.

Ensconced in this dismal setting are two rays of light: Luz (the Spanish translation of light. “Luz was light, she was light-headed, light within light…”) and Ray (think: sun ray).
Book Riot Community
I fell so hard in love with this book that I was almost afraid to finish it or approach it again after the first couple of chapters. It’s a gorgeously-woven story about awful things: a drought, an evacuation, a cult, a kidnapping, drug addiction, fame. Reading Watkins’s language was like slipping out of silk pajamas and into the most perfect bubble bath you’ve ever experienced. So luxurious.

— Susie Rodarme

from The Best Books We Read In July 2016:
Viv JM
3.5 stars

Gold Fame Citrus is an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic genre. It is set in a near-future parched Californian landscape. The author does a great job of evoking the heat and dryness of the setting, and the characters are both flawed and interesting. I enjoyed the first third and the last third of the book, but felt that it floundered a bit in the middle. Sometimes the writing came across to me as not so much creative and literary as a bit pretentious. Having said that, I do think
switterbug (Betsey)
At the start of this superb novel, it is clear that water depletion in the Southwest United States has been ongoing for at least a generation, although now it is dire, and the danger is not just the waterless environment anymore. Borders are controlled, and the government restricts the Central Valley citizens (called Mojavs) by corralling them in internment camps. Factions, cults, and fugitives splinter off from the mainstream huddles and try to find meaning in a menacing, starving world. The th ...more
Sara Batkie
Oh man did I want to love this but it marks the second time this year that a dazzling short story writer's apocalyptic first novel has disappointed me. Watkins' prose is as on point and dynamic as ever but the plotting is careless, even lazy, with too much space given over to metatextual noodlings that go nowhere at the expense of the characters. Still I'll always be excited by what she's doing and I know her best is still ahead of her. ...more
I don't think I would have finished this if I hadn't been given a review copy, and if I'm being completely honest, I pretty much skim read most of it after the half way point. The premise sounded fascinating, set in a post-apocalyptic near future America, hit by droughts and climate change. I was completely taken in by the synopsis, and so was hoping for something similar to Margaret Atwood's speculative science fiction series, MaddAddam.

Sadly, this did absolutely nothing for me. Watkins must h
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this a solid four, although while reading it I was three-ish. In many places it was superb - the beautiful, poetic language; the originality of the premise and plot (hard to do in post-apocalyptica, and I didn't really get there until well into the second hundred pages); the interludes in which Watkins interjected new, self-contained pieces of writing - I don't know what you call that - the expositional beginning of part II; Levi's primer; the scene in the buried swimming pool; Luz's ...more
Jen Campbell
A DNF for me, unfortunately. Didn't gel with it at all. ...more
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
The only place to start talking about Gold Fame Citrus is the writing. Claire Vaye Watkins is a force of nature...or something altogether outside of nature. She wields words like Yoda wields The Force. Her writing is fire: it illuminates, it warms, it mesmerizes and it burns. Sometimes it seems like she's twirling it around on the ends of a pole just to show off.

Gold Fame Citrus is dazzling. It's harrowing in it's all-too-plausible nightmare scenario. It's so, so evocative and sensual...I could
Brittany (UnderTheRadarBooks)
3 stars

I had very high hopes for this book. I had heard great things about it and the concept was so promising but it did not even come close to delivering.

In the beginning, I was excited. It reminded me of Station Eleven in that the world was dystopian but the focus was on the people instead of the disaster itself. I soon learned it was nothing like Station Eleven and that is when the downhill slope began.

This story follows a couple trying to survive in a severe drought that is affecting the
Jessica Jeffers
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book showed up on some sort of Most Anticipated list, and I decided to look it up based solely on the fact that its cover kinda, sorta looked a bit like Fates and Furies. The story -- about a couple surviving in a California that’s largely been abandoned due to drought -- wasn’t really my thing, but it was earning comparisons to Station Eleven -- which I adored even though it didn’t seem like it would be my thing -- so I decided to make like a pseudo-apocalyptic survivor and go beyond my co ...more
May 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Even after several days of reflection, I don't know what I think about this book. And that really burns my brisket because I expected to unequivocally love it. I had all but papered my bathroom walls with that gorgeous cover art. Claire Vaye Watkins is one of those golden young writers who seems to be universally adored. How could I not love her debut novel, set in a futuristic, drought-blighted California? Literary dystopian fiction has been an easy sell for me ever since I made the acquaintanc ...more
Michelle Morrell
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Gold Fame Citrus" takes place in a California devoid of water, where a sea of sand has grown to overtake the entire center of the southwest, and the only people remaining are those too stubborn, damaged or poor to leave. Following Luz, faded model, her "husband" and the baby they find along the way, it travels from the shattered remains of the coastal cities into the deep desert.

Gold, fame, and citrus, the three things that used to bring people to the state, are all gone. So what remains?

I woul
I tried so hard to give this book a chance, but it did absolutely nothing for me, except give me a headache with the constant lists and repetitions. It seemed the author needed to fill up pages so lists of random people, checklists, applications, animals and made up tv shows and characters etc., were used to complete the word count requirement. I have never rated a book so low, but in this case, I don't even feel comfortable giving it a one star rating, it deserved a half star, in my opinion. Th ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I received a review copy of this book in audio from Penguin Random House.

I'm not certain, but I might have read too many post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels. The last few I read just have not felt like they had many new ideas or fresh approaches. Is it the subgenre, is it me, or is it the authors? You should read this review in the context of potential reader/listener burnout.

I think most people will enjoy this novel. I have been meaning to read Claire Vaye Watkins ever since Jason gushed abou
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FABClub (Female A...: Gold Fame Citrus group discussion (August '16) 17 46 Aug 16, 2016 11:39AM  
The Passion for R...: "Romanzo visionario che racconta di un’epoca oscura..." 2 13 Jan 14, 2016 09:43AM  
Reply to Ben's Question 1 36 Jan 06, 2016 09:44AM  

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Claire Vaye Watkins was born in Bishop, California in 1984. She was raised in the Mojave Desert, first in Tecopa, California and then across the state line in Pahrump, Nevada. A graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, Claire earned her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshare ...more

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“Luz, we all have an obligation to the people who love us. They've given us this gift whether we want it or not and it is our duty to stand up and be worthy. We are not loved in proportion to our deserving, and thank God for that, for unworthies like you and me would find that life a bitch. We're loved to the level we ought to rise, and even in returning it we are obligated to be gentle.” 10 likes
“Hoosiers aren't quitters. California people are quitters. No offense. It's just you've got restlessness in your blood." "I don't," she said, but he went on.
"Your people came here looking for something better. Gold, fame, citrus. Mirage. They were feckless, yeah? Schemers. That's why no one wants them now. Mojavs.”
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