Watershed

Author Mark Barr

Hardcover (ISBN: 978-1-938235-59-7 )
$26.00

Set in 1937 in rural Tennessee, with the construction of a monumental dam serving as background, Watershed delivers a gripping story of characters whose ambitions and yearnings threaten to overflow the banks of their time and place.

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Release Date: 10/08/2019
Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.
264 pages

Amidst construction of a federal dam in rural Tennessee, Nathan, an engineer hiding from his past, meets Claire, a small-town housewife struggling to find her footing in the newly-electrified, job-hungry, post-Depression South.

As Nathan wrestles with the burdens of a secret guilt and tangled love, Claire struggles to balance motherhood and a newfound freedom that awakens ambitions and a sexuality she hadn’t known she possessed. The arrival of electricity in the rural community, where prostitution and dog-fighting are commonplace, thrusts together modern and backcountry values. In an evocative feat of storytelling in the vein of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong, and Ron Rash’s Serena, Watershed delivers a gripping story of characters whose ambitions and yearnings threaten to overflow the banks of their time and place. As the townspeople embark on a biblical undertaking to harness elemental forces, Nathan and Claire are left to wonder what their lives will look like when the lights come on.

“Mark Barr’s vivid and heartfelt Watershed is the most engrossing and assured debut I’ve read in a long, long time. The building of the hydroelectric dam in 1937 Tennessee isn’t the backdrop in this riveting story—it drives everything. A hydroelectric dam engineer running from his past. A Tennessee housewife running toward a new life. You watch a countryside, a people, transformed. The dam truly brings so much more than electricity. Watershed will leave you charged and enlightened. Mark Barr is a powerhouse."

—Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek

"Written with uncommon humanity and grace, Watershed is a powerful reminder of how necessary those qualities are in our own time. Mark Barr has an almost supernatural ability to make the past--both the physical and emotional realities of daily life--intimate and real. Watershed is like one of the great New Deal murals brought to passionate, striving life."

—Kent Wascom, author of The New Inheritors

"Mark Barr has effectively captured a most engaging historical moment. This is a novel of the engineers and the grassroots citizens who made electrification happen, people who leaned in toward modernity despite the unknowns and the risks it was clearly bringing with it. A fascinating read!"

—Julia Franks, author of Over the Plain Houses

“Watershed is a novel about change in many forms—personal, technological, and societal—and it handles them all with aplomb. A quintessentially American story of invention and reinvention in hard times, it reveals Barr as a writer of uncommon grace, skill, and promise.”

—Doug Dorst, author of S (with JJ Abrams)

"I was won over by the gorgeous and lovely debut novel, Watershed. Combining the lyricism of Chris Offutt and historical scope of Virginia Reeves, Watershed explores the limits of ambition and the transformative power of love."

Mark Barr

Mark Barr

Mark Barr has been awarded fellowships from Blue Mountain Center, I-Park Artists Enclave, Jentel Arts, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, Millay Colony, and Yaddo, and holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University. He lives with his wife and sons in Arkansas, where he develops software and bakes bread.