Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Shann Ray, author of 'American Masculine'

The American West has long been a place where myth and legend have flourished. Where men stood tall and lived rough. But that West is no more. In its place Shann Ray finds washedup basketball players, businessmen hiding addictions, and women fighting the inexplicable violence that wells up in these men. A son struggles to accept his father’s apologies after surviving a childhood of beatings. Two men seek empty basketball hoops on a snowy night, hoping to relive past glory. A bull rider skips town and rides herd on an unruly mob of passengers as he searches for a thief on a train threading through Montana’s Rocky Mountains.

In these stories, Ray grapples with the terrible hurt we inflict on those we love, and finds that reconciliation, if far off, is at least possible. The debut of a writer who is out to redefine the contours of the American West, American Masculine is a deeply felt and fiercely written ode to the country we left behind.
“Shann Ray writes about small western towns and their residents in tough, poetic, and beautiful ways. I recognize many of these people, and that’s good, but I’m also surprised and stunned by many others, which is great. Buy the book and read it tonight. You’ll love it, too.”
—Sherman Alexie

“Ray’s stories resonate hard and clear, very much word images reflecting the Montana setting of the collection. . . . Almost every story is set under the great blue steel dome of the Montana sky. Almost every story follows a hard man who cannot understand where hardness should end. Almost every story watches as a lonely woman attempts to love such a man without understanding the anger, the hurt and the loneliness beneath the iron. Think Hemingway or Jim Harrison, and know that Ray's collection is the deserving winner of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Bakeless Prize.”

—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

During this week's program,Shann Ray will talk about writing, men, and forgiveness. He'll also read from American Masculine, his collection of stories that won the 2010 Bakeless Prize for Fiction.
You can hear the program on the radio or online:

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