Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Reading List

This week on The Write Question, Zed and Barbara Theroux, manager of Fact & Fiction Books in downtown Missoula, talk with TWQ producer Chérie Newman about a few of the recently-published books written by authors in the western United States.

Here's a list of the books they mention during the program, as well as others you might be interested in taking a look at. You'll find most of these titles at Fact & Fiction or at your local independent bookseller.

The Only Thing Worth Dying For, by Eric Blehm
Geology Underfoot in Yellowstone National Park, by Marc Hendrix
Yellowstone National Park: An ABC Adventure, by KC Glastetter and Jeremie Hollman
Fire Season, by Philip Connors
Climb Glacier National Park, by Blake Passmore
Peakbagging Montana, by Cedron Jones
I've Never Met an Idiot on the River, by Henry Winkler
The Bitterroot and Mr. Brandborg, by Frederick H. Swanson
Backroads & Byways of Montana, by Jeff Welsch and Sherry Moore
Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend, by Leigh Montville
Raptors of the West, by Kate Davis
Totally Out There Guide to Glacier National Park, by Donna Love
The Golf Letters: Tee Tales, by Annie Loughlin
The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by Kim Barker

Forgiven, by Janet Fox
American Masculine, by Shann Ray
Hell is Empty, by Craig Johnson
Cold Wind, by CJ Box
Back of Beyond, by CJ Box
Randy Lopez Goes Home, by Rudolfo Anaya
Toys, by Neil McMahon and James Patterson
Terra Tempo: Ice Age Cataclysm, by David Shapiro, Christopher Herndon & Erika Melville
The Last Mountains: A Tom Hadley Mystery, by Rick Craig
The Summer Son, by Craig Lancaster

51: 30 Poems, 20 Lyrics, 1 Self-Interview, by Paul Zarzyski
Waterworks Hill, by Dave Thomas
Like Any Other Dream Will Do, by Cedar Brant
What Lasts, by Jennifer Greene
A Clear Blue Sky in Royal Oak, by John Holbrook
You're Just Dirt, by Roger Dunsmore
If Beauty Were A Spy, by Jenny Fallein

Listen to the program this evening at 6:30 ( or 7:30 (, or anytime using the embedded PRX player below:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Poems: "Hoola Hand" - by Henry Real Bird

Today as I let go, a hoola hand into the dawn
Among silhouetted horse heads, held by a rope corral
But then, that day was many winters ago
To good horses you are drawn
I have asked that you ride the best
Of beautiful words to create images
Of life’s reflections filled with feelings of reality
Winters many may you ride the best.

As sunlight moved in the wind
Among the shadow of an ash tree
I gave the sweat lodge a drink
In the absence of memory
An ole’ feeling sprouts
In the charred remains of life
It is customary
That I have no doubts
Wishful thoughts and prayers through dreams strive
For peace in our souls
May you ride the best
Through the four different grounds
Upon our sacred mother earth.

* * * * * * *

Henry Real Bird is Montana's current, and third, poet laureate. In 1996, he won the Western Heritage Award for the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. In 2002, he and Stephanie Davis performed her song, “Why the Cowboy Sings” at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Arts Festival. He also performs annually at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Real Bird has had six anthologies, five poetry collections and twelve children’s books published, along with many other articles, tapes and CDs. Find out more about him and read more of his poems at the Montana Arts Council Web site.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kim Barker, author of 'The Taliban Shuffle'

For almost five years, Kim Barker was the South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune, directing coverage of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, meaning she was more at home in a plane than anywhere else. She covered natural disasters like the tsunami in Asia and the earthquake in Kashmir. She tracked manmade disasters – the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the corruption in Afghanistan, the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

During this week's program, Kim Barker talks about her addiction to living in and reporting from war zones. She also reads a disturbing excerpt from the book, in which U.S. troops attempt to train police recruits in Afghanistan.

Bittersweet and unforgettable, Barker's book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a record of her experiences, one that captures the absurdity and tragedy of our modern wars.

Listen to The Write Question tonight at 6:30 ( or 7:30 (

Or listen now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Poems: "Love: The Basics" - by Kathleen Lynch

Start with something harmless
a stone perhaps. Choose one
large enough to sit on, one so heavy
it cannot get up and hit you of its own accord.
After that try loving a leaf
preferably one lying nearby,
preferably a dead one. Do not taste it.
Next: something with a rudimentary
brainan insect, or the spider on your shoe.
This is where it gets tricky. The most beautiful
are often toxic and their interest in you
is minimal. When you turn to mammals
hunger becomes an issue.
You can even open yourself
to another of your species, with a brain
and body like yours, capable of anything.
But if you are afraid, stay
with the rock. Remember though
it will not feed you,
or speak, or answer.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Kathleen Lynch's fiction and poetry has appeared in several anthologies, including The Next River Over — A Collection of Irish American Writing, and in many literary journals, including Poetry, Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, The Midwest Quarterly, Slipstream, Quarterly West, and The Midwest Review.

Lynch received the Spoon River Poetry Review Editor's Choice Award, the Salt Hill Poetry Award, a Two Rivers Review Prize, Peregrine and Sow's Ear prizes, and ten Pushcart nominations. "Love: The Basics" was published in Lynch's collection, Hinge, which won the Black Zinnias Press National Poetry Book Competition.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sandra Alcosser, Judy Blunt, Roger Dunsmore, David Romtvedt, and Kate Northrop

If you think poetry is incomprehensible or just for English majors, a new collection could change your mind. New Poets of the American West, edited by Lowell Jaeger and published by Many Voices Press, is full of "accessible" poetry written by people who live and work in all the normal places.

In the book's introduction, University of Montana professor Brady Harrison writes:  "In New Poets of the American West, we hear from Native Americans and first-generation immigrants, from ranchlanders and megaopolites, from poet-teachers and street-poets, and more. In fact, the West is so big, and home to such diversity that the deeper one reads in this anthology, the more voices and world views one encounters, the more textures of thought, emotion, and language one discovers, the less we may find ourselves able to speak of a single, stable something called the American West. Rather, we may find ourselves living in (or reading into) not one West, but many.”

This week on The Write Question, Sandra Alcosser, Montana's first Poet Laureate, joins me (Chérie Newman) to talk about this collection. Alcosser also reads several poems, including two of her own. Judy Blunt, Roger Dunsmore, David Romtvedt, and Kate Northrop also read.

You can listen to the program Thursday evening at 7:30 on Montana Public Radio, or at 6:30 on Yellowstone Public Radio.

Or listen online right now!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Excerpt from "Forgiven," by Janet Fox

Forgiven, Janet Fox's second young adult novel - the sequel to Faithful - is scheduled for release June 2, 2011. Here's an excerpt from Chapter One:

With one shaky hand I raised that branch, an inch only. I quaked like an aspen leaf in a tricky breeze. Not from the cold, though there was that. But from the fear.
“Come on out, girl.” The voice of this intruder with the evil snaky eyes rang through the clearing, bell-like in the frost morning.
I eased back deeper into the tangle of chokecherry. Snake-eyes had his back to me, and I fixed my own eyes on the ripped edges at the bottom of his pants leg, watching those frayed threads as the knitted branches that hid me sliced up his form. If I could crawl back silent, if I could just belly back far enough here, if I could get on my feet again, could get enough ground between us so he couldn’t shoot me, I could outrun him. Because when I had to, I could outrun a deer.
“I ain’t gonna hurt you, now.”
Liar. The bruise on my upper arm spoke to that lie. The bruise where he’d grabbed me, surprised me, and I’d twisted around and whanged him good with that fry pan, giving myself just enough time to scrabble into the thicket where I hid now, my stomach on the frozen ground.
I wished I’d nailed him harder and less glancing and laid him flat. I’d be clear to the safety of the fort at Mammoth Hot Springs by now if I could’ve kept on moving.
Snake-eyes grunted as he rubbed at what must’ve been an eggsize lump forming where my whale of a swing with the pan had connected with his shoulder. He moved to the left, shoving the barrel of his rifle into the brush barely five feet from where I lay trying to make myself smaller, invisible. “You come out now, it’ll go easier for you. I’m gonna find you, one way or the other.”
Come back, Pa. I whispered the plea in my brain, begged. I sent that plea out over the trees and snow-dusted hilltops. I couldn’t hide here forever.
Snake-eyes moved away from me, and I took that as an opening. I could ease back a little bit more, just catlike . . .
Snake-eyes whirled, came at me so fast I didn’t have time to get farther than my knees. He reached into the thicket and had me by the hair and he yanked.
Kula Baker doesn’t scream.
“I got you now, you sorry little . . .”
My feet jabbed on the hard ground and slid on the snow patches, as my hands went up for my scalp, where he pulled on my braid so hard I thought he might snap my neck. He jerked me back into the clearing while my feet fought for purchase and found none, and then he threw me toward the fire ring at the center, where the fire smoked and sputtered.
I landed hard on my knees, the winter soil like bare rock. I thanked the good Lord and my pa for those thick denim overalls I’d borrowed, as I rocked forward onto my hands. The pan, my only weapon, lay too far away.
“Now I will ask you nicelike and you will answer.” Snake-eyes cradled his rifle with the barrel pointing in my general direction. “I want something I ’spect to find in this camp. Something of Nat
Nat Baker: Pa. “Then you ask Mr. Baker himself, why don’t you?” I braced my palms on my thighs, trying to coil back, trying to be ready, trying to ignore the smarting pain where more bruises were forming and where I’d surely lost some hair from my scalp.
“I’m asking you.” He leaned forward, his lips curled in a sneer. “If you run, girl, I’ll plug you.” He straightened again. “There’s a box. About as big as a badger. Has a brass clasp and a lock. Now, you tell me if you’ve seen this box.”
Box? What box?
Kula Baker can keep a stony face.
“Spill it, girlie. You seen it, or ain’t you?”
If I told Snake-eyes the truth, he’d plug me. If I lied and he believed my lie, I might stand a chance of escape.
I lied. “I’ve seen it. If I tell you where, you’ll let me go?”
He snorted. “Once I have it, I’ll let you go.”
“Fine, then. It’s about so big, right?” I made a shape about as big as a badger with my hands. “Baker hides it in Cookie’s tent. Underneath the flour sacks.”
“Stand up.” He waved his gun at me.
I stood, wobbly, as if the ground beneath me quaked, and then with all my strength pulled my muscles together, ready.
Snake-eyes looked me up and down. “Thought you was just a girl. You more like a woman.”
He stepped closer. I stepped back.

*    *    *     *     *     *     *

Text from Forgiven by Janet Fox, published by Penguin/Speak. Copyright c 2011 by Janet Fox. All rights reserved. Find out more about Janet Fox and her books at her Web site.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Poems: "Not Named For A Horse" - by Frances McCue

The story goes like this: A lone prospector, Tecumseh Smith, found the spot,
panned gold in the creek. Folks called him Pony (he was slight and small)
and named the town Pony's Gulch and Pony's Creek. His camp disappeared by 1870.
In 1875, a man named George Moreland found a rich gold deposit
under a patch of wild strawberries, up in the hills outside of Tecumseh's place.
Pony became a town. Hard-rock gold mining thrived, and the 100-stamp mill
grew stone by stone, the ruin with the "no-trespassing" signs.
"I want to go there, "Maddy said.
"Let's climb over those rocks," said Mary.
Don't get me wrong -- any cop from Pony 
must be lonely. But I stamped out
words I needed to: "We'd better not,"
and I distracted them with other sights:
Pony's town, Pony's school and bar.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Frances McCue is a writer and poet living in Seattle where she is the writer-in-residence at the University of Washington's Undergraduate Honors Program. She was the founding director of Richard Hugo Home from 1996 to 2006. McCue is the author of The Stenographer's Breakfast, winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. "Not Named For A Horse" was published in The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs: Revisiting the Northwest Towns of Richard Hugo.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thomas McGuane, Driving on the Rim

Tom McGuane has a wicked sense of humor. And he knows how to make accessible stories from words like "fulminate" and "divagation" and "sangfroid." He's written nine novels, three works of nonfiction, two collections of stories, and several screenplays, including “Rancho Deluxe” and “Tom Horn.”

McGuane’s new book is a darkly humorous picaresque novel titled, Driving On The Rim.

Find out which story-telling family members were role models for young Tom, why he cut his successful screenplay-writing career short, and who was responsible for the influx of writers to southwest Montana.

Hear all that, plus a conversation about Driving on the Rim, during The Write Question, Thursday evening at 6:30 ( or 7:30 (

Get more information about McGuane, read reviews, and listen online.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kings of Colorado, by David E. Hilton

William Sheppard had never ventured beyond his Chicago neighborhood until, at thirteen, he was sent away to a boys reformatory ranch in Colorado for stabbing his abusive father in the chest with a pocketknife.

Despite the lack of fences or gates, the boundaries are clear: the boys are prisoners, living a several-day hike from civilization in a place with one access road, that's closed all winter. Oh. And anyone attempting to escape will be tracked down and shot.

If you enjoy reading thrillers, put Kings of Colorado on your summer reading list. The writing will easily pull you into the story and keep you turning pages when you're wondering how much more gruesome the plot can get.


From Publishers Weekly

Hilton debuts with a stark novel of violence and fierce friendship in a 1960s Colorado juvenile penitentiary. After 13-year-old Will Sheppard stabs his abusive father while trying to protect his mother, he's sent to Swope Boys Reformatory, a work ranch where the only rule of law is that of a greedy warden, corrupt guards, and vicious fellow inmates, the worst of them a boy named Silas Green. Shepherd befriends a few boys--Coop the literary mind, Benny the kid with the big heart, and Mickey the ornery runt with an ironclad outer shell--and they must all survive the brutishness of head guard Frank Croft and the nihilism of Silas and his cronies while doing back-breaking labor in the horse stables and out in the fields. Hilton's portrayal of adolescent friendship is authentic and touching, and the story moves at a speedy pace as the boys' innocence is shattered in ever deeper and more profound ways. While the writing can flirt with melodrama, the characters are well drawn and their trials are harrowing, a sort of Stand by Me behind bars. (Jan.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Poems: "The Rest I Imagine" - by Joy L. McDowell

There are things men and women don't talk about,
things like brutal acts of war, miscarriages and
in the woods, the graphic way a man can die.
After the accident with the helicopter, my husband is stoic.
He was the first to see what a helicopter's tail rotor can do
to the head of a forester from Wisconsin, a forester
just out of college, a young man who for a split second
forgot about the flying blades, saw only his bags of fertilizer.
The tail rotor suffered damage. The helicopter could not fly.
Another helicopter did the evacuation. My husband claims
it's the best thing when the kid dies in ICU six hours later.
The rest I imagine while I mix corn muffins and ladle out chili.
Our son tells us about the tree fort he and his friend are building.
The cat jumps on my husband's lap, circles and starts purring.
It doesn't take long to bake brownies. This time I frost them.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Joy L. McDowell is a University of Oregon graduate who writes from her home above Oregon's Willamette Valley and from a studio at the edge of the Coos Bay estuary. "The Rest I Imagine" was published in New Poets of the American West.