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New West Daily Roundup for May 5, 2016

mountain towns

Today in New West news: the best mountain towns in the U.S., Visit Big Sky unveils new smartphone app, Utah’s BragShare, Boulder-based Gaiam Inc. sells majority share of Natural Habitat Inc., and greenhouses at the new Simplot complex.

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New West Daily Roundup for Apr. 27, 2016

Boise, Idaho

Today in New West news: craft beer in the Treasure Valley, federal land bills before Senate subcommittee (including one about Owyhee wildernesses), and medical marijuana in Utah.

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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.).

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“Dynamic Sculpture” by Team Hymas, Oregon

Dynamic Sculpture "Dynamic Sculpture" by Team Hymas. This statue greets guests at the High Desert Museum near Bend, Oregon. The size and natural settings really make it an eye catcher. To view more of Team Hymas' photography, please visit

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Reading The West & High Plains Book Awards Finalists Announced

Last week two regional organizations announced the finalists for their annual book awards. I've listed the finalists below with links to New West's reviews of the books and author interviews. First, the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association announced the finalists for its Reading the West Book Awards (that's the new name of the MPIBA's longstanding book award series). The shortlist in the Adult category:Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession by Craig Childs (Little, Brown and Co.) • The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) • Volt: Stories by Alan Heathcock (Graywolf Press) • Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America by Eric Jay Dolin (W.W. Norton) • The Ringer by Jenny Shank (The Permanent Press) Also in the Roundup: The finalists for the High Plains Book Awards, The Whitefish Review seeks donations for its ninth issue, The High Desert Journal announces a poetry prize, and the tally on how many books Oprah helped David Wroblewski and Cormac McCarthy sell.

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Book Festivals of the West 2011

Each year readers and writers gather to celebrate the written word at book festivals, fairs, and writing conferences throughout the West. Although there are a few spring festivals, everything really begins to pick up in June, and the schedule remains busy through November. The offerings vary from those that concentrate on helping writers improve their craft, such as the Lighthouse Writers Workshop's retreat in Grand Lake, Colo. (July 10th-15th), to those that introduce writers to readers through panels, readings, and book signings, such as the Montana Festival of the Book in Missoula (October 5th-7th). Some, such as the Aspen Summer Words Festival (June 19th-24th), combine workshops and readings. The workshops charge fees, but plenty of the festivals are free to attend, including the Montana Festival of the Book in Missoula and the Equality State Book Fair in Casper. Most workshops are already accepting applications for this year. I've updated the Book Festivals of the West map with this year's information when it was available. Please let me know if there are any more events to add or update—I'll even throw this open for events in California and Texas. New West will run reports from the festivals again this year—we already have correspondents lined up for the Jackson Hole Writers Conference, Aspen Summer Words, and the Montana Festival of the Book, and are looking for more contributors.

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‘The Sisters Brothers’ Updates A Classic Western Novel Scenario

The Sisters Brothers (Ecco, 328 pages, $24.99), the second novel by Oregon's Patrick DeWitt, is an update on a classic Western scenario, featuring hired killers on horseback out to get their man, traveling through hard-bitten frontier outposts in 1851. DeWitt has invigorated this well-worn path with wit, style, and imagination. Brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters are hit men working for a mysterious wealthy Oregon man named the Commodore. As the book opens, the Commodore has dispatched the Sisters brothers to kill Hermann Kermit Warm, who is currently being watched by Henry Morris, another of Commodore's men, in California. The Sisters brothers move across the country in a welter of violence, but the carnage goes down easily through the endearing narration of Eli, the younger, fatter, and more reluctant killer of the two. Eli narrates in a humorous, formal sort of diction that several critics have compared to that of Mattie Ross in True Grit, but Eli is more of a softie than Mattie ever was, collecting his half of the money whenever he and his brother kill someone for profit, but then giving it away to prostitutes and other women who sway his sensitive heart before he's had a chance to spend any of it. Patrick DeWitt will discuss The Sisters Brothers at University Bookstore in Seattle (4326 University Way) on May 18, at Powell's Bookstore in Portland on May 19, and in Denver at the Tattered Cover (Colfax) on May 24.

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Mild-Mannered Wine Steward Turns to Crime in Kevin Desinger’s Debut Novel

Kevin Desinger's debut novel, The Descent of Man (Unbridled Books, 272 pages, $24.95), jumps off to a brisk start when a forty-year-old man named Jim wakes up in the middle of the night and looks out his bedroom window to see two men attempting to steal his Camry. His wife Marla tells him to call the cops, but instead he heads outside to try to foil the theft. He observes them for a moment, then, as Desinger writes, "something in the Camry broke off with a loud snap, and one of the car thieves swore. At the same time something in me snapped too." Jim, a mild-mannered man suddenly filled with rage, hops into the men's truck, drives it down the road into a ditch, and beats it with a galvanized pipe. Jim can't account for his own actions, and begins to craft a series of lies to cover up what he did from Marla and the police. Kevin Desinger will discuss The Descent of Man in Portland at Powell's on May 3 (7:30 p.m.), Woodstock Wine & Deli on May 7 (7:30 p.m.), and Broadway Books on May 10 (7:30 p.m.).

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An Interview With Charles Wilkinson, Author of Siletz History ‘The People Are Dancing Again’

Charles Wilkinson has written several notable books on a wide range of issues facing the modern West. His latest book, The People Are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon (University of Washington Press, 576 pages, $35) is a fascinating, at times heart-wrenching, historical account of the tribe he worked to help restore in the seventies. The book traces the long history of the Siletz, from the days preceding contact with Euro-American settlers, through war, relocation, and eventual termination as a federally recognized tribe. It continues into the modern era with the tribe's restoration and subsequent revival of traditional heritage, arts, and language. Widely regarded as one of the nation's pre-eminent experts in tribal and natural resources law in the West, Wilkinson is Distinguished Professor and Moses Lasky Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School, and is the author of many books, including The Eagle Bird: Mapping a New West and Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations. New West: This book obviously grew from a deep personal regard for the Siletz people, and for their remarkable survival amidst immense adversity. How did this project first come about? Charles Wilkinson: I was an attorney at the Native American Rights Fund here in Boulder in the seventies, and had represented the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin in being restored. Congress had terminated tribes in the fifties, broken the treaties, sold off the land, and ended all federal services, with the idea that they'd just blend into the larger society. The policy was a colossal failure. When the Menominee were the first tribe to be restored, people from Siletz came out and said they wanted to achieve restoration, and I was assigned to the case. Very soon after that, by coincidence I went to teach at the University of Oregon Law School and I was now within two hours of the reservation. That meant that I got to see a lot of the Siletz people. It was the time of the fish wars in the Northwest, when tribes had been awarded fifty percent of the salmon runs, so Indian issues were very sensitive and there was strong opposition from the fishing community to the bill. There were a lot of public meetings, at which the tribal members and I would go to explain that the bill didn't affect fishing rights. There were a lot of late night meetings and I just got to know people really well.

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Boy in the Wilderness: Summer Wood’s “Wrecker”

Wrecker by Summer Wood Bloomsbury, 290 pages, $20 Taos-based writer Summer Wood's heartfelt new novel is about the unconventional upbringing of a boy named Wrecker, who is raised by a collection of well-intentioned semi-parents while he roams the redwood forests in the remote Lost Coast area of Northern California. Wrecker examines what happens when a task as complicated as raising a child is shared collectively, and delves into the doubts, frustrations, guilt, and joy that parents feel when they are confronted by the endless needs, misbehavior, and love that a child provides. The book begins in San Francisco in 1965, when that city was "home to saints and sinners and seekers of every stripe." One such seeker, Lisa Fay, leaves the strictures of her parents' house to join the counterculture in San Francisco, has a fling with a sailor and is left with a son unknown by his father. She doesn't name her son at first, "She called him HeyBoy or BigBoy or Beauty; she called him Honey and Sweetie and Champ." When he's a toddler she asks if he can "leave off wrecking things, for once," and he replies, "I a wrecker," so that's what she names him finally—Wrecker.

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