Home / Sun Devil Shelf Life / Life is a Country Western Song
Cover of Life is a Country Western Song by H. Lee Barnes
February 2019
Baobab Press

College or Unit:

Life is a Country Western Song

H. Lee Barnes

Author of "Talk to Me, James Dean" and "Cold Deck," H. Lee Barnes is an eloquent ambassador for the contemporary American West. In these twelve moving stories, Barnes delves deep into the wild, expansive places of the region and of the human heart that are slowly coming to rein. With gorgeously distilled prose, Barnes writes of vastness and distance, of the separate, small inches and whole histories that occupy equal measures of the western spirit. 

Each of the stories in "Life Is a Country Western Song" reveals a character longing to close a gap, or who, for better and for worse, have come to terms with their estrangement and exile. A divorcee rekindles a doomed romance over the internet; a locksmith absorbs broken dreams in foreclosed homes; a boy learns how to love and hate in Juarez, Mexico; because he has no one else, a Nevada Patrolman confides his marital troubles in a dog. 

Wrought with empathy, precision and a steady finger on the pulse of the complexities facing today’s changing, often turbulent West, Barnes’s stories show a writer at the apex of his craft, offering an updated take on a West that is rapidly descending into the annals of legend.


H. Lee Barnes received his MFA in creative writing from Arizona State University in 1992.

Praise for this book

"Barnes writes in strong images, which fill the expansive West with images of these character’s lives. His stories are hopeful. His characters are risk takers, even if the risks are as simple as rescuing a dog. These small risks can reveal the important parts of lives and motivate the characters to trudge through their hard periods of change. 'Life is a Country Western Song' is beautifully written, with stories pulling you into sometimes desolate lives, leaving them not always better, but at least headed in the right direction."

Sara Podwall
Tulsa Book Review