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Western Writers & Western Stories: Book Discussion 2014-15
The American West is so iconic, so deeply ingrained in our minds, that writers can't help but explore the vast open spaces and the people that inhabit them.
This year we will read six books that are all set in the West. We picked a great group of authors, including two that hail from Wyoming, to help us explore the landscape we call home.
Books will be available for checkout 2 weeks before the month begins. Discussion is on the third Wednesday at 7 pm. We look forward to having you join us!
Here are the books we will be discussing -- descriptions and biographies are taken from goodreads.com and author websites.
September 17, 2014
The Spirit of Steamboat
by Craig Johnson
Sheriff Walt Longmire is reading in his office on December 24th when he's interrupted by the ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar across her forehead and more than a few questions about Walt's predecessor, Lucian Connally. She whispers "Steamboat" and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988, when three people died in a terrible crash and a young girl had the slimmest chance of survival.
Craig Johnson, born in 1961 in Huntington, West Virginia, is a novelist and playwright. A former police officer, Johnson has also worked as an educator, cowboy, and longshoreman. He lives in Ucross, near Sheridan, WY, population 25.
October 15, 2014
by Mary Doria Russell
The year is 1878. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail twenty-six-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24, Dodge House.
Mary Doria Russell was born in 1950 in the suburbs of Chicago. She holds a Ph.D. in Paleoanthropology from the University of Michigan, and has also studied cultural anthropology and social anthropology. Russell lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband Don and their two dogs.
November 19, 2014
by Kent Haruf
In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl -- her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house -- is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.
Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts and his Masters of Fine Arts. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps, and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in CO, a construction site in WY, a rehabilitation hospital in CO, a hospital in AZ, a library in IA, an alternative high school in WI, and universities in NE and IL.
January 21, 2015
by Reid Lance Rosenthal
The story begins in 1854 with the first of five, richly textured, complex generations of unforgettable, multicultural characters. The separate lives of these driven men and independent women from Europe and America are drawn to a common destiny that beckons seductively from the wild and remote flanks of the American West.
Reid is fourth generation land and cattle, a rancher whose works have been honored with 15 national awards. His cowboy heart and poet’s pen capture the spirit of the western landscape and its influence on generations of its settlers.
February 18, 2015
The Eagle Catcher
by Margaret Coel
When the Arapaho tribal chairman is found murdered in his tepee at the Ethete powwow, the evidence points to the chairman's nephew, Anthony Castle. But Father John O'Malley, pastor of St. Francis Mission, and Vicky Holden, the Arapaho lawyer, do not believe the young man capable of murder. Together they set out to find the real murderer and clear Anthony's name.
She is a native Coloradan who hails from a pioneer Colorado family. Originally a historian by trade, she is considered an expert on the Arapaho Indians. She visits the Wind River Reservation every year. She writes in a small study in her home on a hillside in Boulder, CO.
March 18, 2015
Bird Cloud: A Memoir
by Annie Proulx
Bird Cloud is the name Annie Proulx gave to 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie and four-hundred-foot cliffs plunging down to the North Platte River that she fell in love with, and she knew what she wanted to build a house in harmony with her work, her appetites and her character, a library surrounded by bedrooms and a kitchen.
Edna Annie Proulx is an American journalist and author. Her second novel, The Shipping News (1993), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for fiction in 1994. Her short story "Brokeback Mountain" was adapted as an award-winning major motion picture released in 2005. She won the PEN/ Faulkner Award for Fiction for her first novel, Postcards.
Other great books from Western writers or about the West....
Northfield, by Johnny D. Boggs
This fast-paced Old West adventure follows Jesse James and the James-Younger gang as they change the course of history when they attempt to rob a bank in the far reaches of Minnesota.
The Ox-Bow Incident, by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
When cattle rustlers murder a citizen of Bridger's Gulch, others form a posse and illegally lynch them.
Deadwood, by Peter Dexter
When Wild Bill Hickok takes a wagon train of prostitutes through Deadwood, a pimp hires someone to kill him.
The Big Sky, by A.B. Guthrie
Boone Caudill, 17, leaves his Kentucky home and family and settles in Big Sky, Montana.
Slaughter, by Elmer Kelton
Several people, including Jeff Layne, meet on the Great Plains after the Civil War, where the whites want buffalo profits and the Indians need the buffalo for survival.
Giant, by Edna Ferber
Leslie comes from Virginia to marry Bick Benedict and live on his huge ranch, but she never adjusts to the Texas way of life.
Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
Based on incidents that took place in the southwestern United States and Mexico around 1850, this novel chronicles the crimes of a band of desperadoes, with a particular focus on one, "the kid," a boy of fourteen.
Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
Former Texas Rangers leave their unsuccessful cattle business when they hear of good opportunities in newly opened territory.
The Royal Wulff Murders, by Keith McCafferty
Sheriff Martha Ettinger investigates the suspected murder of a young man retrieved from the Madison River in Montana with a trout fly stuck in his lip.
Montana 1948, by Larry Watson
Story of the events of the summer of the author's 12th year, which altered his view of his family and the world forever.
Mad Dog & Englishman, by J.M. Hayes
Summer in Benteen County, Kansas, is a season possessed of all the gentle subtlety of an act of war. A Reverend is murdered in a small Kansas town, and as a tornado gathers to hurl its fury on the hapless town, the fury of the killer rises to meet it.
Volt, by Alan Heathcock
Stark tales set in brutal landscapes, depicting such protagonists as a grief-stricken farmer who takes to walking after running over his son and a female sheriff who covers up a murder in a flood-stricken town.
Also check out favorites like Louis L'Amour, Max Brand, Ralph Comton, and Stephen Bly.