Propulsive, keenly observed stories of young people at the intersection of excess and perseverance, kinship and identity.
Ranging from Austin to New Orleans, Richmond to Philly, the interrelated stories of THE DESPERADO DAYS lay bare the gritty lives of working-class hustlers existing at the intersection of multiple worlds and social castes. We find Levy, Fenton, Eldridge, and other young people searching for purpose and truth among workaday lives and the instabilities of self-indulgence, love, violence, and race, fortifying themselves even as they watch others around them flame out and fade. Utterly original and pulsing with life, THE DESPERADO DAYS is an examination of perseverance, amity, and grace at the edges of American late capitalism.
"X.C. Atkins's brief, deft, intimate, painful, grace-filled, totally bullshit-free stories floored me. To read them is to live 100 years or more in under a minute." —Lucy Ives, author of Life Is Everywhere and Cosmogony
"In these sharp tales of shift beers gone wrong, X.C. Atkins homes in on the moments where dynamics change between coworkers, lovers, and family members. Layer in a wealth of astute observations about racial identity and service industry camaraderie, and THE DESPERADO DAYS hits harder than a double shot of well whiskey." —Chris L. Terry, author of Black Card and Zero Fade
"'It always seems like more can go wrong when there's loud music,' goes the last sentence of the opening paragraph of THE DESPERADO DAYS. Things always go wrong, but never predictably in these short stories. Stories with the direct, casual grit of Scott McClanahan and Sam Pink. Stories with the heart and colloquial humor of Bryan Washington, of Lucia Berlin. Stories about aging, working-class millennials battling both the tug of unreached dreams and the grip of daily dread in a rarely sunny Philadelphia. Stories about boys still becoming men, men missing being boys. Noisy stories. Stories that register each in their own velocity, never hitting the same note twice." —Tyler Barton, author of Eternal Night at the Nature Museum
Fiction. Short Stories. African & African American Studies.
X.C. Atkins is the author of Grace Street Alley & Other Stories. His work has appeared in Annalemma, Bull, Paper Darts, Prairie Schooner, the Akashic Books anthology Richmond Noir, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and, in 2021, was selected for the inaugural Persimmon Creek Writers and Artists Residency. An alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth University, he lives in Los Angeles.