Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same
Unbridled Books
ISBN 978-1-932961-87-4
336 pages


2010 Semi-Finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award

New West Best Books in the West, 2009

Booklist Best Adult Books for Young Adults, 2009


"Thoughtful ... [Roesch] delivers."

-The New York Times Book Review

"Refreshingly honest ... masterful... Roesch draws the reader closer and closer to his tightly knit characters and the community that binds them. A totally engaging first novel...and completely unique."


"Roesch’s compelling story, exotic setting and eccentric characters make this coming-of-age tale a fresh, welcome read."

-Publishers Weekly

"Though Mattox Roesch’s enchanting narrator in his debut novel is seventeen, the book is far more than a teen-coming-of-age tale. The deep and universal desire for connectedness is explored here in stunningly original ways that speak to us all.Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same is an exciting debut by one of America’s finest young writers."

-Robert Olen Butler

"[A] richly detailed portrait of this town...that is authentic and refreshingly unlike any typical depiction of Alaska....Roesch has a winner."

-New West

“To his credit, Roesch deftly avoids clichés such as “walks in two worlds” or passages about Cesar “reclaiming” his heritage…. [and] gives us a version of rural Alaska that we can smell, feel, hear and see. It’s fresh….captivat[ing].”

-Anchorage Press

"A smashing debut by a writer who does not flinch from the misfortune and cruelty that rule certain lives but whose vision is full of beauty, wisdom, and grace."

-Sigrid Nunez

"What makes this book good is its subtle rendering of village life as a web of relationships that sustain individual and community in a harsh environment. Yet because the characters are so well imagined, it does so without becoming a sociological diorama."

-Minneapolis Star Tribune

"This is a tightly written, well thought out book....Roesch never sentimentalizes. His characters are memorable, his storyline rings true, and his underlying ideas are well worth pondering."

-Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

"Roesch’s debut novel is a riveting story. ... Roesch sets up a complex network of village relationships ... it’s all very real and very compelling."


"Roesch ... writes with a spare elegance."

-Seattle Times


Troubled Cesar leaves his gangbanging life behind in Los Angeles to help his mother reconnect with her estranged family in rural Alaska, where she hopes they both can carve out a fresh start. When Cesar arrives, he meets his college dropout cousin, Go-boy, who believes he's part of a good world conspiracy and who bets Cesar he will stay in Alaska for a year.

Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same is the account of two unlikely cousins and their parallel journeys through guilt and loneliness into the bonds of friendship. Set in a location like no other, Cesar and Go-boy struggle with the quirky challenges of life in Unalakleet, Alaska. With his absent father and an older brother in prison for a gang murder, Cesar is badly in need of a male role-model and the acceptance of friends and family.

What Cesar finally discovers is the power of friendship and the potential positive strength that springs from a tight-knit community. He learns the ways in which becoming a part of that community, though at times scary and restrictive, can also be fulfilling and even exhilarating


.short stories.

"All the Way Rider " in Narrative Magazine, Spring 2008

The same month my brother Wicho went to prison, I met Go-boy for the first time. He’d won a trip to Disneyland for his whole family after making a home movie and entering it in a contest for Native Alaskan high school students: What Are the Most Important Issues Facing Rural Villages in the Twenty-first Century? I remember because it was the first time I had ever thought about Alaska and all the cousins we had there.


"Burn the House Down" in Indiana Review, Volume 29.2

The jail had been scheduled to be demolished since early summer, but with each problem during the new building's construction, demolition of the old one was delayed. People around here weren't talking much about this. People in town never really complained or showed public emotion about anything, anyway. They only said the new jail was up on Air Force Hill, and that it was bigger, and that we'd be able to see it from town. And people were right. If you stood in a certain place, like next to the old jail, and looked between a couple houses, you could see a galvanized tin roof where there used to be nothing but trees, four miles out on the only road. This was just above the city dump--the place where the old jail would be thrown. And of the seven hundred people who lived here, if you asked any one of them about the old jail I bet none would say they were sad to see it torn down. It was a busted, unpainted wood house that the police had been using for many years. It sat next to the post office right on Main Road, right in the middle of town, rotting. You couldn't do anything around here without passing the place two or three times a day. And the only thing that would make everyone happier than seeing it destroyed, would be not needing a jail at all.


"The Thing in Her Thumb" in Redivider issue 5.2

Kiana and my mom became friends the first time they met. They bonded over something called seal finger. Kiana stopped by our house and walked around the little place, looking at each decoration and family picture, even the stereo, as if everything were exotic. Mom apologized for the mess. She said we hadn't finished unpacking yet. It was Mom who had the seal finger, and I guessed Kiana knew the cure...or at least, a relief.
Kiana pointed to a living room wall, said, "I've always wanted a map of the world." She had these strikingly high cheekbones, chiseled under mysterious, almost sad eyes--a face with the strength and danger of hundred-foot cliff.


Podcast reading of "Go at Shaktoolik" and interview with The Missouri Review 6.25.07

"Go at Shaktoolik" in The Missouri Review, Volume 29, #3

Sometimes the smoke in the village was so thick, if you threw a rock you couldn’t see it land. Other times there was just a haze. That week there had been forest fires twenty-five miles inland from Unalakleet. East winds had suffocated everything, putting some jobs on hold and even closing the school for a few days. And since all the planes were grounded—nothing was coming or leaving—Go-Boy told me another week of this and AC Store would run out of food. But he laughed, and said, “We got fifteen bags of French fries in our freezer.” I checked, and we did.

Later that week, when the smoke had started to thin, Go-Boy left me a yellow note stuck to the on/off button of our tv—MEET ME BY THE BOAT, TWO O’CLOCK. WE’RE SPREADING GOOD NEWS. There was a chance that Go would maybe give me the money I needed to move back home, so I didn’t want to say no to anything.


"Humpies" on AGNI online 6.19.06
2007 Best American Nonrequired Reading

From Minus Spine:
"It seems like so much of good writing takes what is unknown and makes familiar or alternatively takes what is familiar and makes it unique. A story from Agni Online, "Humpies" by Mattox Roesch, does both by recreating a bizarre family drama within a small town fishing community in Alaska. There’s a touch of the familiar in the provinciality, the teenage reluctance, and the fractured families, which is then injected with idiosyncrasies like the nearly biblical arrival of the “humpies” and the unthinkable crime that a father commits. What really stood out in this short story was the way it suggests a whole past — an entire family history of out which comes a gang-banging brother, a deserted father and a concerned but aloof mother — through subtle, whispered details."




Sometimes We're Always
a novel
ISBN 978-1-932961-87-4
Unbridled Books
336 pages

"Roesch’s compelling story, exotic setting and eccentric characters make this coming-of-age tale a fresh, welcome read."

-Publishers Weekly