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BookshelfNew titles from authors with UM connections
"Bold Women in Montana History" By Beth Judy
Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2017, 252 pages, $14
What do Jeannette Rankin, Myrna Loy and Pretty Shield have in common? They were all bold women in Montana history. Beth Judy’s collection of biographies for teen readers tells the stories of 11 Montana women who eluded racism, sexism and danger to distinguish themselves, including bronc-riding rodeo stars the Greenough sisters, African-American homesteader Annie Morgan on Rock Creek near Missoula and crusader for Native American justice Elouise Pepion Cobell. Judy earned an MFA in creative writing at UM.
"West of Love: A Story Cycle" By Francis Davis
Brighthorse Books, 2017, 209 pages, $16.95
Francis Davis moved from his home city of Philadelphia to earn his MFA in creative writing at UM. He spent a decade as a Montana newspaper journalist and today teaches English at UM-Western in Dillon. In his 19 linked stories, he plumbs the experiences of youth to help himself and his readers understand how they inform middle age. “I danced along the line separating memoir and fiction,” he says.
"Win ‘Em All: Little Laurel Wins Montana’s Biggest Basketball Trophy" By Dennis Gaub
Treasure State Heritage Press, 2016, 219 pages, $12.99
Terry native, journalist and UM MBA graduate Dennis Gaub grew up on rural Montana basketball. He was a senior at Billings West High School in 1969 when the Laurel Locomotives won the last Big 32 state championship in a dramatic overtime victory over Kalispell at a packed Montana State University fieldhouse. In 2014, semi-retired, the veteran Billings Gazette reporter decided there was a story to write. He tracked down all 12 players on Laurel’s tournament team to re-create it.
"Afternoon Light" By Ralph Beer
Casey Peak Press, 2016, 326 pages, $14.95
We almost missed Ralph Beer’s fourth book, a memoir that stretches the writer and the reader back to 1971, when a 23-year-old Ralph with no money and a copy of “HOWL” in his hip pocket set off for Canada. He and Sheila Malone, “not yet hardened by years,” caught in the uncertainty of young American men during the Vietnam War, build a cabin in British Columbia. Beer pays homage to his friend Sam Curtis and shows his perennial expertise with the written word.
"Montana 1889: Indians, Cowboys, and Miners in the Year of Statehood" By Ken Egan Jr.
Riverbend Publishing, 2017, 287 pages, $22.95
Ken Egan approaches the 1880s in Montana as the decade the American West was invented. White settlers brought sheep and cattle to the great landscape, wiped out the buffalo, built railroads and pressed the people of indigenous nations onto smaller and smaller pieces of the territory. Along with the new empire came the building of the myth of authenticity and freedom. Egan, who is executive director of Humanities Montana, brings empathy to both stories.
"Two Weeks Every Summer: Fresh Air Children and the Problem of Race in America" By Tobin Miller Shearer
Cornell University Press, 2017, 248 pages, $35
Since 1877, charitable Fresh Air programs across the United States sponsored two-week vacations at rural homes and camps for city kids. Nice, right? But Tobin Shearer, director of African-American Studies at UM, takes a look at the underside of the programs, brought out by intense criticism in the 1970s. Critics called them token at best, “paternalistic arrogance” and cultural “genocide.” Shearer views the phenomenon through a meticulous historian’s lens.
"Ballet at the Moose Lodge" By Caroline Patterson
Drumlummon Institute, 2017, 261 pages, $17.95
Caroline Patterson’s roots could not go deeper in Montana. She and her family live today in the prairie-style house that her attorney great-grandfather built in Missoula in 1906 after he won a case against the Great Northern Railroad. She’s executive director of the Missoula Writing Collaborative and an adjunct faculty member in UM’s Creative Writing program, where she earned her MFA. Hailed as a skilled and empathic writer and terrific storyteller, Patterson gives her readers characters in and of the West.
"The Underworld" By Kevin Canty
W.W. Norton & Company, 2017, 253 pages, $24.95
Kevin Canty, who teaches in UM’s Creative Writing program, tells the story of the fallout after a disastrous fire in a small silver-mining town in 1970s Idaho in his new novel. The reader gets a front-row seat in his characters’ living rooms and at their kitchen tables while they sort through their losses. Writer William Kittredge calls the novel “a dead-honest encounter with the hearts and minds of working-class America.”
"The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid" By Colin Meloy, with art by Carson Ellis
Balzer & Bray, 2017, 420 pages, $17.99
UM creative writing graduate Colin Meloy is best known as the singer-songwriter and frontman for the indie folk rock band the Decemberists. He and his wife, Carson Ellis, an award-winning artist, first brought readers a New York Times bestselling adventure/fantasy series for young readers, “Wildwood Chronicles.” They’re off on a new adventure now with young Charlie Fisher, who by accident lands in the middle of an international band of child thieves in Marseille, France, where his American diplomat father works.
"Whereabouts" By Candace Black
Snake Nation Press, 2017, 92 pages, $15
Candace Black earned an MFA in creative writing at UM in 1981, studying with renowned poet Richard Hugo. Her broad background brings wide interests and knowledge to her poems – chemistry, biology, sod-house homesteaders, family dogs, winter, swimming. In presenting the book the Violet Reed Haas Award, the judges wrote, “When you enter these poems, you enter a geography of the mundane and existential.” Black teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
If you are a UM alum with a recent book release, don’t forget about your alma mater. To be considered for Bookshelf, you must send a copy of the book, along with any press materials and contact information, to: Montanan, University Relations, 214 Brantly Hall, Missoula, MT 59812. Submission of materials does not guarantee that your work will be featured.