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Get'em Young, Treat'em Tough, Tell'em Nothing

Longlisted, 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize, US&Canada

A NYTimes Editors' Choice, Nov., 2022

A Best Book of 2022, The White Review 

A Best Book of 2022, Lunate


NYTimes, by Aimee Bender, Oct 15, 2022 

"[McLean's] prose moves with muscle and rhythm, the dialogue swift and captivating … circumstances are rough, even dire, and people are worn out, angry, smart and stubbornly, vigorously alive … McLean unsentimentally renders their various precipices with incredible energy and humor...In all these settings, whether we're touring Niagara or building a home in Alaska, nature is ever-present, but it won't redeem us.… That said, there is a curious solace in settling into a worldview by a writer who so refuses to unsharpen her vision, whose investment is in the clarity and freshness of the imagery and an honest portrayal of our craven impulses." Read the whole review.


THE GUARDIAN, by David Hayden, Oct 26, 2022 

"Robin McLean's visions of America are vivid and dark in these superbly unsettling short stories." 

"McLean writes at times with the hyper-keen vividness of nightmare: not surrealism but a kind of American expressionism, like a darker, gristlier Donald Barthelme – grotesque, comic and unsettling....There is a sense of the centre not holding – of American anxiety as a bestowal to us all, as American energy once was...Even outside the violent events in the book, violence is ambient, present in the incomprehensible strangeness of nature – including our own, which puts the book atmospherically, if not theologically, alongside Cormac McCarthy and Joy Williams. There's a suspicion that life force and death force are one." Read the whole review. 



WALL STREET JOURNAL by Sam Sacks, Nov. 4, 2022

"We are the most animal of animals," a character says in Robin McLean's collection "Get 'em Young, Treat 'em Tough, Tell 'em Nothing." The sentiment lay at the heart of the author's 2021 novel "Pity the Beast"—the best, and most disturbing, contemporary western that I have encountered in years—and it informs each of these exquisitely nasty tales." Read all.


BOOKMUNCH, by Jackie Law & Peter Wild, Dec. 1, 2022

" A rare treat..."

"...These are stories you are inside of. Certain stories here feel like novels in themselves. The opener, for instance, the aforementioned 'But for Herr Hitler', about a couple who buy themselves some land and then wrestle with illness as the years go by. It's a good introduction to the book because everything that is good and everything that is puzzling about Robin McLean's stories is contained in miniature right up front. No one is trying to sucker punch you. All of the mystery and the beauty walks hand in hand...These are stories you'll read thinking, is this the best collection of stories I've read since Jesus' Son?" Read the whole review.


WORD FACTORY, Amy Steward, Dec 19, 2022

.."a sense of American 'epicness'"

"...Get 'Em Young, Treat 'Em Tough, Tell 'Em Nothing is not a collection that explains, or comforts. Rather, it uses fierce language and surrealism to unsettle and create dark near-dystopias, unique in the clarity of their vision and the finely wrought nature of their characters. It's as unpredictable as the American landscape itself, lonely as a desert and confident as a city at night. This is a collection to read and re-read, to sit with, and ultimately, to treasure." Read the whole review.


LUNATE, Jesse Jones, Dec. 8, 2022

A Best Book of the Year

"The most surprising book I read this year, fiction or otherwise, was Robin McLean's Get 'em Young, Treat 'em Tough, Tell 'em Nothing (And Other Stories). This short story collection surveys an innate Americanness with flare, uncanniness and a profound disaffectedness. McLean spans a plethora of states, identities, and time periods, with a mystery and sense of the (almost) unbelievable. There's both grand, folkloric tales and a story entirely taking place in the mind of a man stuck in a tree; she's truly a master of the form."


THE BIG ISSUE, Must-Reads, Fall '22, by Jane Graham

'These imaginative, poetic stories overflow with compassion and should seal McLean's flourishing reputation as a writer of great heft.' Read the whole review.


"With merciless prose and a bold vision, McLean continues to impress." -- Publishers Weekly


"Sharp, noirish, thought-provoking stories of lives out of joint." -- Kirkus 


"The best collection of stories I have read in years."   --Christian Kiefer

"...beautiful and harrowing." --Chris Bachelder


"brutal, yet hilarious" -- Deb Olin Unferth


"No writer casts a sharper light on the feral edges of the human condition"

- John Larison


A Most Anticipated book of Fall 2o22 in Lit Hub.

A Most Anticipated book of Fall 2o22 in The Millions.

A "Northern Powerhouse" Book of the Fall 2022 in The Bookseller (UK)





                                                                         Get'em Young, Treat'em Tough, Tell'em Nothing

Pity the Beast

'Not since Faulkner have I read American prose so bristling with life and particularity.'

--J M Coetzee 


"A work of crazy brilliance"

The Guardian


A "stunning debut novel"



"McLean is an important writer, one of the few who really matter at this precarious time in human history. She dares to think for herself, and to see things as they are, no matter how frightening that vision is."

– Rain Taxi


Learn more and order the book


Pity the Beast

Reptile House

 Winner of the BOA Fiction Prize


A Best of 2015, Paris Review


Learn more and order the book!


Reptile House