Saturday, April 29, 2017
Breaking News
Home » New West Network Topics » Books & Writers » Reviews & Essays

Reviews & Essays

Book Review: Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

With the passing of Ivan Doig April 9, 2015, American letters lost a quiet titan.

Read More »

Book Review: Orchard by Jack H. Bailey

In Western American history, there’s no topic that’s more dynamite than labor, especially mining.

Read More »

Review: For A Little While By Rick Bass

Montana author Rick Bass is something of a quiet miracle.

Read More »

Review: The Ancient Minstrel by Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison

There’s something patented about a Jim Harrison novella collection. They’re his de facto trademark.

Read More »

Review: Improbable Fortunes by Jeffrey Price

Improbable Fortunes, Thomas Hart Benton, Trail Riders

It’s all but impossible to mistake a Thomas Hart Benton painting for any other; they’re always so distinctive.

Read More »

In Memoriam: Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison

It is with heavy hearts that we report Jim Harrison has passed away yesterday at the age of 78.

Read More »

Book Review: The Valles Caldera by Gary L. Stuart

The Valles Caldera

In spite of the foreboding name, the Valles Caldera is not a hazardous place.

Read More »

Loneliness and Laughter: Daniel Orozco’s ‘Orientation”

Idaho-based writer Daniel Orozco's first book, Orientation and Other Stories (Faber and Faber, 162 pages, $23), journeys to so many different places—from life among the perpetual painters of the Golden Gate Bridge, to Paraguay, where the deposed president of a Latin-American country lives in sumptuous exile, to white-collar and blue-collar American workplaces in Washington, California, and elsewhere—that it's hard to believe it's less than two hundred pages long. The years of care Orozco has put into this book—which was more than fifteen years in the making—are evident in every honed sentence. You can tell Orozco was having fun, challenging himself to try every possible narrative technique—first-person, second-person, third-person, perspectives that are limited to one character and some that are omniscient (including one that ventures briefly into the perspective of a pack of dogs), stories composed of several distinct episodes, and one comprised of entries from a police officer's log that build into a hilarious love story. Daniel Orozco will kick off his book tour in Moscow, Idaho with a reading from his pickup truck in front of BookPeople on Main Street on June 10 (7 p.m.). He'll read in Portland on June 23 at Powell's Books on Hawthorne (7:30 p.m.).

Read More »

What’s A ‘Honyocker Dream’? David Mogen Explains in New Memoir

Colorado State University English professor David Mogen recounts his peripatetic 1950's Montana childhood with good humor and insight in Honyocker Dreams: Montana Memories (University of Nebraska Press, 231 pages, $21.95). His father worked as a teacher and superintendent for school districts throughout Montana. Every few years, Mogen's parents would move with their six children to a new town for a different job—the towns the family lived in included Missoula, Ennis, Box Elder, Billings, Whitewater, and Froid, where Mogen graduated from high school. (When he went to college at Columbia in New York, one of his new classmates informed him that he pronounced the name of his hometown incorrectly.) Although there were many differences between these places—such as the contrast between lively Missoula, where Mogen's dad completed his studies through the G.I. Bill, and the "time warp" they encountered in Whitewater, population 75, where electricity had only recently been introduced—Mogen sees all of these towns as places where the prior generations enacted their "honyocker dreams." David Mogen will discuss his book at Matter Bookstore in Ft. Collins on August 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Read More »

‘In This Light’ Collects Utah Writer Melanie Rae Thon’s Greatest Hits

The accomplished writer Melanie Rae Thon grew up in Montana and teaches at the University of Utah. In This Light: New & Selected Stories (Graywolf Press, 256 pages, $15) collects some of the highlights of her career, and there have been many—her stories have regularly appeared in the Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and Pushcart Prize anthologies. Thon frequently sets her stories in the West, but they follow none of the typical paths Western writers are often expected to take. Thon focuses on people who exist on the fringes of society, who are damaged, dispossessed, addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, or all three, people who never have the chance to stop and admire the landscape—like the homeless kids of Kalispell in her story "Heavenly Creatures"—they're too busy scrapping for survival. Thon relentlessly turns her attention on people that society ignores, and describes them with intense language in stories that are replete with ghosts.

Read More »