The story, identified as an Acid Western, follows two hired killers, the deadly but not-yet-notorious brothers Brooke and Sugar, and involves “gunfights, cannibalism, barroom piano, a transgender birth, a wagon train, a stampede, and the tenuous rise of the West’s first one-armed gunslinger.”
In an interview with The Offing, Winnette discusses the novel’s preoccupation “with expectations, what society expects from these characters and what they expect from themselves.” These expectations (some of which propel the plot — Sugar is pregnant with Brooke’s baby) are interrogated and subverted as the novel challenges fixed identities, literary tropes, and heteronormative stereotypes.
Haints Stay has been praised by writers including Saeed Jones, Brian Evenson, and Sam Lipsyte, who declared it reminiscent of “powerhouses like Charles Portis, Patrick DeWitt, Robert Coover, Oakley Hall, E.L. Doctorow, and Sheriff Cormac McCarthy himself.” It was included in Vol. 1 Brooklyn’s June 2015 Book Preview, and filmmaker David Formentin’s book trailer for the novel recently appeared on Flavorwire.
Winnette also put together a Haints Stay playlist at Largehearted Boy, and a few weeks ago, he spoke with the brilliant Amelia Gray at Green Apple Books in San Francisco — you can listen to their discussion here.
If you’re in Los Angeles, don’t miss Winnette at Skylight Books, where he will be in conversation with Karolina Waclawiak on June 6th. And check out his site for appearances in San Francisco, Portland, and elsewhere.