By Rye Curtis

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The lives of two womenthe sole survivor of an airplane crash and the troubled park ranger leading the rescue missioncollide in this "gripping," (Vogue) "heart-pounding," (NPR) and "highly original" (LA Times) novel of tough-minded resilience.

Longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize
A New York Times New and Noteworthy Book
An O, The Oprah Magazine Best Book of January

The sole survivor of a plane crash, seventy-two-year-old Cloris Waldrip is lost and alone in the unforgiving wilderness of Montana's rugged Bitterroot Range, exposed to the elements with no tools beyond her wits and ingenuity. Intertwined with her story is Debra Lewis, a park ranger struggling with addiction and a recent divorce who is galvanized by her new mission to find and rescue Cloris.

As Cloris wanders mountain forests and valleys, subsisting on whatever she can scavenge, her hold on life ever more precarious, Ranger Lewis and her motley group of oddball rescuers follow the trail of clues she's left behind. Days stretch into weeks, and hope begins to fade. But with nearly everyone else giving up, Ranger Lewis stays true until the end.

Dramatic and morally complex, Kingdomtide is a story of the decency and surprising resilience of ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstances. In powerful, exquisite prose, debut novelist Rye Curtis delivers an inspiring account of two unforgettable characters whose heroism reminds us that survival is only the beginning.


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I no longer pass judgment on any man nor woman. People are people, and I do not believe there is much more to be said on the matter. Twenty years ago I might have been of a different mind about that, but I was a different Cloris Waldrip back then. I might have gone on being that same Cloris Waldrip, the one I had been for seventy-two years, had I not fallen out of the sky in that little airplane on Sunday, August 31, 1986. It does amaze that a woman can reach the tail end of her life and find that she hardly knows herself at all.

I sat by the window and my dear husband, Mr. Waldrip, sat on my right. He had his hands busy fiddling with a ragged cuticle. My husband was a kind, bird-faced man and he wore strong glasses. He was born in Amarillo, Texas, to an awning salesman and a midwife. I first ever laid eyes on him in the summer of 1927 at a county dance in the town hall. This was after his family had moved the some sixty miles east from the big noisy boomtown of Amarillo to little ole Clarendon, where I was born and raised. He was a terribly handsome boy, tall and dark-haired. However he wore a little blue cap that made him look mighty silly. We were both only kids. I had just turned thirteen. He gave me a pitifully wilted rose he had stolen from Mrs. Mckee's garden.

On that morning in August of 1986 he had a dab of jalapeño jelly on his chin. It had been there since our complimentary breakfast at the Big Sky Motel in Missoula, Montana. I was going to tell him to use the handkerchief I had embroidered with his initials and given him some many Christmases before, but he had already begun for the pilot a monologue on rainfall. Such was his custom with men he had just met.

Mr. Waldrip had arranged for us to take a scenic flight to an airfield near a cabin we had rented in the Bitterroot National Forest. The pilot he had hired was a strong, well-groomed young man by the name of Terry Squime. Terry was not a hair over thirty and was newly wed. He showed us a photograph of his bride. She was pretty and resembled Catherine Drewer, a rude and frustrating brunette woman I knew from our church, First Methodist, only Mrs. Squime was quite some years younger and had a jaw less like a shoehorn and a nose less like an old mushroom. When I would later come to know Mrs. Squime, whom I have cautioned against reading certain passages of this account, I would find her to be a pleasant and selfless young woman, and to be very little like Catherine Drewer at all.

Mr. Waldrip carried on about rainfall and the nuisance of beavers and I returned to looking out my little window. The Cessna 340 is a little twin-propeller airplane of six seats, and ours had taken off from an airfield outside of Missoula and was flying south over the Bitterroot Mountains. I mean to tell you these are mountains, the kind that remind a person, no matter how old they are, that they are infinitely young to the earth. These mountains are edged and scalloped like gigantic kin to the arrowheads my little brother, Davy, God rest his tiny soul, unearthed in Palo Duro Canyon when we were small. I had lived seventy-two years in the Texas Panhandle and mountains are not a geological feature you will find in that country. The land is as flat as flat can be, level with what is level in the constitution and spirit of the people who walk it. We plains folk are a grounded people and rarely see a mountain. But having seen what I have now seen of them, when I say these were mountains, you would be right to believe me.

I was then fifty-four years married to Mr. Waldrip. We lived in a little brick ranch house in the orbital shade of a municipal water tower that serviced the some two thousand thirsty souls in Clarendon. Only the day before we had locked up the front door and had taken the truck to the airport in Amarillo, where we had then flown, with a quick stop in Denver, to Missoula on a jet airplane. We did not often venture far from our little house, and this was to be the first trip we had taken in a good long while. We had spent the first night of it under a full moon in the Big Sky Motel, off I-90, an establishment with damp carpets and laminate wood. Mr. Waldrip was not a poor man, but neither was he an extravagant man. I had come to terms with this early on in our marriage.

Mr. Waldrip hesitated half a second on the subject of rain gauges and Terry took the opportunity to ask how long we were planning to stay in Montana.

Just a few days, Mr. Waldrip said. Our pastor and his wife had the best time up here. Figured we'd get ourselves a cabin, do some fishin and kick back. But we sure need to get back this comin Thursday.

Mr. Waldrip likes to pretend he is not retired, I said.

Terry looked back. What kind of work did you do, sir?

I bought a cattle ranch in '45. We sold it a year ago September.

Well, I bet you two will have a great time up here, Terry said.

We're countin on it, Mr. Waldrip said, and he pulled the cuticle from his thumb. A point of blood rose on the nail and he stanched it on his blue jeans.

Doing Mr. Waldrip's laundry, you might come across several pairs of blue jeans peppered with blood like that. If you did not know him, you could mistake him for a fighting man. But the only physical altercation I ever recall him having was with a mean old possum that had got itself snagged on a nail under our porch. Mr. Waldrip had his small ways of fidgeting. I suppose it was the result of his mind always being a few steps ahead of the rest of him, quick as he was, and it made him nervous trying to catch up.

Did you work, Mrs. Waldrip? Terry asked.

I had taught English in elementary school and was the librarian for forty-four years, and I told him so. I retired two years ago, I said.

Now we only got time for relaxin, said Mr. Waldrip, patting my knee.

Any kids? Terry said.

Never did get around to it, Mr. Waldrip said.

I turned back to my little window. The blue sky and the pane gave back my reflection. It reminded me of the oval portrait of my great-grandmother June Polyander which had hung over her bed until she passed away in her nineties. I fixed my hair. I wore it like many of the ladies at First Methodist. Permed up, we called it. When I was a young woman it had been the color of lovegrass in winter and I had worn it longer then. It started going gray in my forties. The grayer and whiter it went, the more Mr. Waldrip said I looked like a dandelion going to seed.

I have never been a great beauty—my nose is too much like a man's to earn that appellation—but I have always done my best to be presentable. A spiky-haired woman named Lucille Carver came to church often as not looking like she had been fired there out of a cannon. I never could understand why she would let herself out of the house like that. I had always supposed it had to do with a disrespect for worship and a disregard for femininity, but now I am not so sure. That warm Sunday in August I wore a pleated tan skirt and a white blouse, and I was carrying my nice leather purse. I am mighty glad now that I was also wearing my most comfortable pair of walking shoes.

I suppose women like me are a phenomenon of the past. In Dallas I saw a young woman with long, screwy unwashed hair hold a restaurant door open for a man. I thought at the time that this young woman was without a sense of decorum and propriety. However I think now she was a sign of the times. Maybe something good and new of the future.

I spent my entire life with women to whom I felt akin, sitting in the fourth pew from the front at First Methodist. I know that each of them have had their hardships and have suffered one way or another. Mary Martha had been born with an odd-shaped kidney that did not work the way it ought to and caused her much pain and turned the whites in her eyes the color of egg yolk. Sara Mae lost her little boy in an accident involving a tire swing, and Mabry Cartwright never married, being that her teeth might as well have been woodchips and her breath the wind over a feedlot. I do not know how my trials and tribulations tally against those of any of these women. We do not know anyone's suffering but our own. However I do sometimes wonder if any of them could have survived the Bitterroot.

Forgot to make sure the pantry light was off, Mr. Waldrip said, looking past me out the window.

I told him that I believed it was.

I took a sweet from my purse and unwrapped it. I was partial to caramels then but I do not eat them now. I have lost the taste for them. Sleep had not come easy in the Big Sky Motel the night prior for the proximity of the highway and I was tired. I ate the caramel and I laid my head back against the seat. Mountains skirted the window and I dozed off listening to Mr. Waldrip talk of center-pivot irrigation.


I woke to Mr. Waldrip's hand on my knee. The little airplane was shuddering something terrible and he leaned forward to try and see into the cockpit. I was nervous to begin with up in the air like we were. Other than the jet airplane that had flown us to Missoula, I had only ever been on an airplane once before. It was June 1954 and I had just had my fortieth birthday and we flew to Florida to visit Mr. Waldrip's ailing brother, Samuel Waldrip. We also saw the beach.

Mr. Waldrip took his hand from my knee and said, I'm pretty sure now I left the pantry light on.

I wondered then why he woke me up to tell me something so silly, but I did not say so. I think now he wanted my company. That dab of jelly was still there on his chin. I opened my purse for a tissue and suddenly the airplane lurched. My stomach rose against the buckle of my seatbelt. I leaned over and looked into the cockpit. Terry's arm was jerking at the controls, his elbow held out high and jittering. The airplane leveled and I leaned back.

Mr. Waldrip asked Terry if something was wrong. Terry did not answer. He was face-forward like the last thing he had a mind to do was look back at us. I fixed my eyes on the back of his head. I recall being mighty afraid of the expression that might be on the other side of it.

The little airplane lurched again. I did not want to, but I looked out the window anyway. A range of fearsome mountains reached for us like an open claw meaning to snatch us out of the sky. The airplane leveled out again. Sun glared off the wing like it does off a seep pond and I covered my eyes. Mr. Waldrip put his hand back on my knee. I looked at him.

It's okay, Clory, he said. It's just some bumps, same as the road you dislike.

What road?

The road you complain about in the east pasture.

I told him I did not think I would complain about a road.

The little airplane whined and out my window the propeller had slowed such that I could make out each blade. It occurred to me that I did not know how an airplane stays in the air at all, and I made up my mind that we were all of us idiots for ever setting foot in one. The nose tilted downward and I could tell that we were descending because my arms were light and all my insides seemed to float. The back of Terry's head frightened me even more now, such like it was the flat featureless haired face of Satan himself.

I got ahold of Mr. Waldrip's hand and I turned to him. He would not look at me. Neither of the men would look at me. I imagine they dared not see their own fears confirmed in the wild horror laid out on a woman's face. Mr. Waldrip put his eyes ahead.

Out the window I saw the mountains rise up around us. The airplane shuddered and my seat vibrated.

Our hands were clammy together now, and I looked back to Mr. Waldrip.

Still he faced forward and said to no one in particular: What is it?

Terry did not answer him.

I did not answer him.

I have always been powerfully baffled that I did not pray then. Instead, I took Mr. Waldrip's face in my hands and pushed his cheeks together. He looked mighty scared and ashamed like a little boy and scarcely like himself at all. Never in all our years of marriage had I known he had in him an expression like that. I let go of his face and put my head on his chest. Gracious, how embarrassed we would be if this came to nothing!

I heard inside Mr. Waldrip that same old heartbeat going quicker and quicker, and then his voice in his chest muffled and big, like the way our pastor, Bill Dow, preached into his new microphone. Suddenly it was unfamiliar as if it had originated from some awful dimension in which I did not hold any belief.

He gasped and said that I was a wife. I like to believe he meant to say that I was a good wife, but before he could correct himself, the little airplane hit.

The noise was too much for ears. I do not know how noise like that comes about. Perhaps the impact had fractured all known sound into pieces I could no longer recognize on their own. Terry wailed out a thing horrible and unmanly and I recall being awed by the way people show their fear of God in such times. We all of us then did not behave as we had for nearly all of our lives. I can still only describe the noises Terry made as a turkey endeavoring to gobble in English. I believe to this day he said God save Mrs. Custard but I still do not have the faintest notion what he might have meant by it.

Mr. Waldrip did not make a peep and was torn from me, and all that I glimpsed were the scuffed-up soles of the alligator-skin boots I had given him years before on an occasion I cannot now recall. An object knocked the wind from me and came to rest on my shoulder. I do not recall when I realized that we had stopped moving, only that the caramel I had eaten had worked its way back up my throat.


Forest Ranger Debra Lewis, a thermos of merlot between her thighs and a .44 revolver at her hip, drove the sunbleached dirt road to Egyptian Point, an overlook up the mountain where teenagers from the foothills drugged and drank and had sex. A bowlegged Shoshone woman named Silk Foot Maggie lived adjacent in a mobile home and had radioed into the station about a bonfire and curse words and phantoms in the woods. Lewis had tossed a can of bear spray into the backseat of the green and tan 1978 Jeep Wagoneer in case the kids were belligerent.

She came upon two pickup trucks parked at the trailhead. The noonday sun knotted black shadows under them and there slept two pale bulldogs chained to the hitches. Lewis pulled over and fixed in the rearview mirror the campaign hat she wore over feathered brown hair shorn just at her shoulders in the cut of a schoolboy. She took a sleeve of her uniform to a row of winestained teeth and buffed them.

She hiked the trail up to Egyptian Point, the can of bear spray in one hand and the thermos in the other, until she came to the place. Voices carried on the wind and a coat sleeve disappeared into a mott of white pine. She clipped the thermos to her belt and wedged the bear spray into a coat pocket. Monoliths of granite encircled the clearing. Smoke unspooled from a smoldering pit of busted lawn chairs and a torn plastic bag. Blackened beer cans twitched at the foot of a disfigured drugstore mannequin adorned with a crown of used condoms. Curse words and Christian names lay coupled and carved and painted over rock faces and trees. From behind a bank of spruce and granite came whispers and pairs of eyes spun there in the shade.

Now you honyockers listen up like all your lives depended on it, Lewis said. Cause I just might decide that they do.

She stumbled around in a circle, crossing her legs like a dancer. She touched the revolver at her hip.

You can't do what you're goddamn doin up here, she said. You can't drink alcohol or smoke whatever it is you're smokin here. This's a protected region. Past that old sign back there it's the wilderness. I'm the goddamn law out here. I'm the adult here. Go on home, goddamn it, go on home.

No response came.

If I don't see you goofballs comin down in a hurry, I swear to God I won't be happy. I got the license plates on those outfits down there.

She faced about to leave and saw crouched in an alcove between two pornographically defaced boulders a teenaged girl with white hair and an overbite. The girl wore nothing save a brassiere and did not blink. She watched Lewis and palmed her small breasts, her bony ribs working fast. Her face was dirty and her forehead marked in soot like that of a supplicant on Ash Wednesday. Lewis was thirty-seven and figured the girl for at least twenty years younger than her. She looked once in the girl's eyes and returned to the trailhead where she sat in the Wagoneer and drank from the thermos of merlot until the lithe figures of cackling teenagers swept two by two from the woods like mythical waifs and left in their pickups as the sun fell behind distant peaks.

Lewis drove back in the direction of the small pinewood cabin she had lived in for the past eleven years. It sat off a mountain road in an alpine forest near vacation homes left vacant. She drank again from the thermos and listened to the only clear radio broadcast to reach up the mountain.

You're listening to Ask Dr. Howe How, I'm Dr. Howe, and it's time for our last caller until I'm back on tonight. Thank you for joining us today. What can I do for you, Sam?

A tired and dolorous voice belonging neither distinctly to a man nor a woman asked how it was that people could so resolutely misunderstand one another.

Before Dr. Howe could respond, Lewis swerved out of respect to miss a roadkill and spilled the thermos over her uniform. She took the Lord's name in vain and the radio signal went to static and Dr. Howe's answer was lost.


All was quiet. Then I heard a whistle that could have been a kettle. I opened my eyes. I am not certain that I was ever unconscious, but it is my understanding that it is often hard to know about that sort of thing. A bright red suitcase, not one I recognized, pinned my shoulder. My guess was that it was Terry's. I heaved it off. Where my window had been there was now a wide gash in the fuselage, as if someone had pried open a can of peas. I undid my seatbelt.

I had come to the end of a world in that little airplane, and in such a terrible calm I climbed through that gash and was born again into another. The airplane had stopped on an escarpment of granite up near the peak of a high rocky mountain, the nose not three yards from the edge where a jungle of tall conifers rose from below, nodding. All about were mountains. Two big ones flanked ours and farther out a snow-capped range repeated into the blue distance like all there were and all there had ever been in the history of the world were mountains.

I touched my forehead. Blood. My face was covered with it and in a piece of broken glass I saw that I had a small cut over my eyebrow. I looked like an Indian brave in warpaint. I hollered for Richard loud as I could. I only ever used Mr. Waldrip's Christian name when addressing him directly, a habit I learned from Mother.

The sun was out and the day was warm. It is a strange thing that such a pleasant and beautiful place can seem so mean-spirited. The mountain was high up, but no snow was on the ground and all about hairy plants with mighty pretty scarlet flowers grew from the rock. I later learned they are called mountainside paintbrushes. The airplane had been halved down the middle. The tail of it was gone.

I looked back at Mr. Waldrip's empty seat. I hollered for him again. My eyes returned to the treetops below the escarpment. One of Mr. Waldrip's alligator-skin boots was right side up at the edge. I started for it. As I went I looked back at the little airplane and saw the nose of the cockpit had been shorn away. Most of the flight controls were gone and Terry sat there in the open air still in his seatbelt. He was slumped over. I was sure he had passed.

When I reached the edge of the escarpment Mr. Waldrip was some half a dozen yards down, splayed out prone across the top of a large spruce. He was mighty high up off the ground. I hollered at him if he was all right but I ought to have already had the answer to that. He did not move and I could see blood was welling in the seat of his blue jeans. I hollered his name again. I worried he was hung there paralyzed and could not answer me. There was not a thing in the world I could do. I could not reach him, and if I had been able to reach him, what good would it have done? That was when it first occurred to me to pray. I knelt down at the edge of that escarpment and looked out over an immense valley and I prayed: Our Father, who art in heaven, Mr. Waldrip is down there in a tree, and he is badly hurt. Please help us, please help us, please save us, Lord…Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet from out the net.

I prayed that way for some time until Mr. Waldrip's blue jeans had gone plum-colored. I doubtless would still be knelt there in prayer had it not been that behind me there was such a scream like I had never heard before. It was a high-pitched sort of cry, very wet and moronic. Best way I know to describe it, and it is a distasteful notion for which I hope to be forgiven, is that it was how I imagine a simple person would holler if they were immolated.

Well, I hollered too and threw my hands up over my face. Finally I turned and lowered my fingers. My dear! Terry had come to and was chewing the blood in his mouth, screeching that awful way in repeat. One of the residents in my building here at River Bend Assisted Living in Brattleboro, Vermont, has a son, Jacob, who is in a wheelchair and cannot move his body, not even his eyelids. It is awful. His eyes must be shut at night and opened come morning by a caretaker, who is a stout large-headed woman in white with a little squirt bottle of saline on her belt that she uses to mist his eyeballs at two-minute intervals throughout the day. Jacob might not blink, but he sure can scream. That is about all he can do. When I hear him in the halls I am reminded of Terry.

I took some steps forward. Terry was not in a good way at all. He had spit up a segment of his jaw which yet held several of his teeth in it and it had dropped into his shirt collar. One of his blue eyes was black entirely. He did not act like he could see out of either of them. He kept up his crazed screaming, and I matched each one. My hands shook and my heart jumped like a jackrabbit. There we were, just hollering at each other. In some better world the whole performance might have been comical.

Terry was upright some several feet off the ground, belted in his chair, exalted like a terrible overseer of terrible doings. I stood before him, continuing to holler myself silly, without the wildest notion as to what to do. I could just have about reached his shins to comfort him, but I did not want to touch him, and I sure felt bad about that. My whole family were Methodists and I was taught to keep charity and compassion in my heart, but there was not a thing in the world I could have done for that man.

After an awful spell, like a baby he calmed on his own accord and was cooing. He raised up his arm such as to issue an edict and said sweet as can be: Is it over?

Pardon? I said.

Excuse me, I've always been honest with my dentist. Am I at the dentist? Just a minute. Are we dead yet?

My husband is in a tree, I said, pointing behind.

Good for him, Terry said. He was always climbing that tree.

After that he said the word waitress


  • "Gritty and intense."—O, The Oprah Magazine
  • "A heart-pounding tale... Riveting and surprising... Kindness helps steer this heartbreaking tale in a heartwarming direction... Rye Curtis keeps us turning pages as Cloris confronts bobcats, hypothermia, starvation, icy inundation, and a strange mountain lion who walks backwards... Predicated on a cataclysmic, life-changing accident, Kingdomtide offers a transportive read... A stirring debut."—Heller McAlpin, NPR
  • "A startling reversal to the typical survival story... Abounds in homespun sensory detail... Rye Curtis complicates the expected adventure-novel payoff... Cloris's narration grows increasingly vulnerable, surprising, and profound. The wonder of her ordeal has detached her from ordinary cares yet made her ravenously curious about the big, unanswerable questions."—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
  • "Rye Curtis's debut novel, Kingdomtide, is that rare genre-fluid story that is lovable both because of and despite its surfeit of eccentric, over-the-top characters and moments. Some are gritty and dark, others light and wise; together they create an impressive first book and a highly original tale of adventure and perseverance... Cloris Waldrip is immediately irresistible. Her first-person voice bubbles with a sage vibrancy as well as sometimes laugh-out-loud wit... It's Waldrip who suggests that life stories are shaped by those who live to retell them---something she has done in this narrative with formidable grace... Kingdomtide is a distinctive and inventive story about nonconformity, resilience, and the ways we draw strength from unlikely places."—Janet Kinosian, Los Angeles Times
  • "Harrowing... In beautiful prose this horrifying and brutal work of art bounces between Cloris's and Debra's narratives. Together, these unforgettable women create a unique literary novel full of suspense and twists... The entire cast of characters is layered and raw... Underneath this gritty and dark tale is the message that sometimes heroism and kindness emerge from those we despise and fear the most."—Tiah Beautement, Sunday Times
  • "Vivid... an enthralling debut."—The Guardian
  • "Kingdomtide is a truly spectacular first novel: weird, tender, funny, grotesque--above all, deeply, achingly human. It tugged at my thoughts during the days I spent reading it, and has made for itself a permanent place in my memory."—Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer prize-winning author of Manhattan Beach and A Visit from the Goon Squad
  • "Rye Curtis's debut novel is an astonishing work. His powerful and convincing characters are at risk in a harsh and beautiful landscape in which the best and worst are revealed, and nothing is as it initially seems. Kingdomtide is at once a page-turner and a meditation on the complexity of the human experience and spirit."—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone and The Maid's Version
  • "An entertaining debut...The characters are appealing (you'll love Cloris) and the story is suspenseful, with a nice touch of humor."—Christina Ianzito, AARP
  • "An unforgettable experience... The author is an extraordinary writer whose books will surely be eagerly anticipated and welcomed with glee."—C.C. Harrison, New York Journal of Books
  • "First novels are often praised for an author's potential, but Kingdomtide displays a talent fully realized. Cloris Waldrip's trek through wilderness after a plane crash is suspenseful from start to finish, but as the lives of her potential rescuers are revealed, the novel also moves through the even deeper wilderness of the human heart. Rye Curtis is a writer of exceptional talent."—Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena
  • "Holy smokes! I was sucked into this novel by the end of the first paragraph. If Flannery O'Connor wrote a procedural, she couldn't invent a stranger, more luminous world. This is a place where the grotesque and the sublime coexist in harmony, where misfits and outcasts band together to survive, and where the tale belongs to whoever tells it best--in this case, the immensely talented Rye Curtis."—Christina Bake Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World
  • "I read a lot of very good fiction, but this novel--so startling and thrilling, so packed with such wonderful characters--is the best novel I've read in a long time."—Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and A Star Called Henry
  • "Kingdomtide is much more than a harrowing tale of survival in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. A plane crash and rescue operation in this debut are but a pretext for a rich and stunning examination of the wayward. Rye Curtis has written a splendid, funny, and insightful book, and created an exuberant affirmation of the soul--lost, found, or (like most of us) in some kind of transit."—Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek
  • "Kingdomtide is an extraordinary debut novel that feels like the result of a fortuitous lab spill involving, in one rack of tubes, the essential literary fluids of Denis Johnson, Annie Proulx, and Flannery O'Connor, and, in the other, the sweet morality of Leif Enger, Kent Haruf, and Charles Portis. (When you think of the indelible Cloris Waldrip of these pages, picture True Grit's Mattie Ross at age seventy-two, still kicking ass and taking names.) But although a reader can at times sense various veins coming down from various mountains, they are always in service of the one big heart that becomes Kingdomtide, a book that is wise, touching, and most of all original."—Rick Bass, author national bestseller and Story Prize winner of For a Little While
  • "Stop reading this blurb right now and read the first paragraph of Kingdomtide. If you can stop after that, you'll know you're a robot. A defective robot. Kingdomtide will bring you to tears of laughter, tears of joy, and...are there tears of insight? Rye Curtis is a fireball of talent."—James Hannaham, PEN/Faulkner Award winner for Delicious Foods
  • "Gloriously unexpected...A deep and surprising debut...Cloris' survival narration is exciting, with devastating vistas and a mysterious savior in the form of a possible fugitive, but her musings on her past life and life in general are some of the book's very best moments."—Annie Bostrom, Booklist
  • "A darkly humorous debut...A captivating survival story...By turns thrilling, poignant, and hilarious, Kingdomtide is carried along by Cloris Waldrip's irresistible first-person narration. She is so matter-of-fact, wry, and indomitable it's not hard to imagine she's a granddaughter of True Grit's Mattie Ross...This is a promising first novel."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "An intense debut...Seventy-two-year-old Cloris Waldrip's grueling attempt to survive and escape is depicted with vivid urgency...Her gritty, nightmarish story, as well as her strong voice and personality, will make her a reader favorite...This story of survival will keep readers quickly turning the pages."—Publisher's Weekly

On Sale
Jan 26, 2021
Page Count
304 pages
Back Bay Books

Rye Curtis

About the Author

Rye Curtis is originally from Amarillo, Texas. He is a graduate of Columbia Univer­sity and lives on a ranch in Texas. Kingdomtide is his first novel.

Learn more about this author