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Bookshelf: New Titles from UM AuthorsNew titles from authors with UM connections
Compiled by Ginny Merriam
“Inside Montana Politics,” by Mike Dennison
The History Press, 2019, 223 pages, $21.99
Montana journalist Mike Dennison brings a special wisdom and immediacy to the stories of the past few decades: He was there. Dennison, a UM School of Journalism graduate, tours his readers through Judy Martz, Marc Racicot and Brian Schweitzer’s terms as governor; the fall of Montana Power Co.; Sens. Jon Tester, Max Baucus and Conrad Burns; the 1991 prison riot; and a story of justice gone awry.
“The Den,” by Abi Maxwell
Alfred A. Knopf, 2019, 272 pages, $25.95
Abi Maxwell has feet in two settings 150 years apart as she tells two interwoven stories of young women who are ostracized and disappear from the same New England community for the same reasons a century and a half apart. Each has a sister who searches for her, and both sisters come across the same strange old myth about a family transformed into coyotes. Maxwell earned an MFA in creative writing at UM.
“Grief Sequence,” by Prageeta Sharma
Wave Books, 2019, 104 pages, $20
Poet and former UM creative writing Professor Prageeta Sharma shares in small essays and poems her life with and the death of her husband in their Missoula home. Traveling through their marriage, his illness, friendships lost and found, the medical establishment and raw grief, Sharma shares a book of sharp emotion. “I’m exposed and knew that was the last thing you would ever have wanted for me. To feel so abandoned like a Victorian book.”
“Plant Trees, Carry Sheep: A Woman’s Spiritual Journey Among the Sufis of Scotland,” by S.A. Snyder
Luna River Publishing, 2019, 320 pages, $14.95
Armed with UM degrees in forestry, wildlife biology and journalism and a yearning for connection with people and the spiritual world, Sarah Snyder left Montana for a tree-planting job on a sheep-raising estate in Scotland. She didn’t know what Braemar would turn out to be. Spiritual retreat? Religious cult? A mix of the Qur’an and the Scottish countryside? And she is expected to plant 6,000 trees, manage the chickens, corral the sheep and manage an acre of vegetable garden.
“Crossroads: A Flathead Valley Mystery,” by James L. Thane
Moonshine Cove Publishing, 2019, 254 pages, $14.99.
Missoula native, UM history and sociology graduate and mystery writer James L. Thane immerses his readers in a tense story that illustrates the drama concerning the future of Montana’s forests. Thane’s protagonist, Dave Matthews, is a Kalispell attorney who is drawn onto that stage when he agrees to defend a millworker accused of murdering a prominent environmentalist. Is his client innocent? The evidence seems to say otherwise. Thane explores Matthews’ wrestling match with his regrets and the magical pull of Flathead Lake.
“Sweep Out the Ashes,” by Mary Clearman Blew
University of Nebraska Press Bison Books, 2019, 272 pages, $19.95.
UM English graduate and professor emerita at the University of Idaho, Mary Clearman Blew sets her new novel in the fictional northern Montana town of Versailles in the 1970s. Diana Karnov is one of two female professors at Versailles State College. The winter is cold, and the winds are strong. Diana learns about the mysteries connected with her father and falls into a romance as the reader falls into the landscape. Blew is a recipient of the Western Literature Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award.
“It Comes Around Again: A Memoir,” by Rudy Autio and Lisa Autio
Rattlesnake Valley Press, 2019, 116 pages, $39.99.
Rudy Autio established the ceramics program at UM and has been called one of the most important and influential ceramic artists to touch the medium of clay. He joined the UM faculty in 1957 and stayed active in the ceramics world until his death in 2007. Visitors to Missoula see his work everywhere, from his dynamic horses in the Performing Arts Center on campus to his ceramic mural on the Missoula Fire Department station on Madison Street. His memoir, written for his children, takes the readers from his Finnish roots in Butte through his start at the Archie Bray Foundation through his years at UM.
“Tips Lawyers Wish You Knew: Going it Alone at the Courthouse,” by Ann D. Zeigler
Rio Grande Books, 2019, 152 pages, $17.95
Ann D. Ziegler brings a marriage of an MFA in creative writing from UM and a law degree, along with 30 years’ practice of federal law, to her how-to guide to the legal system. She shares common-sense tips that range from what to wear to what position cell phones and laptops should be in court – off – to explanations of mediation and arbitration. She aims to make civil procedure less scary for the average person and show the average person how to be a good client.
“We Leave the Flowers Where They Are: True Stories of Montana Women,” memoirs by 40 Montana women, curated by Richard Fifield
Sweetgrass Books, 2019, 185 pages, $17
The Montana women whose stories are collected in this anthology are poets, lawyers, directors of nonprofits, environmental activists, homemakers, mothers of gay sons, booksellers, teachers of writing and more. Many are UM graduates. They were all students in writer Richard Fifield’s memoir class during the past five years, and they have stories. “My own life has been forever changed by witnessing the bravery of these writers,” Fifield writes “and I did my best to get out of the way and offer up a safe space.”
“Hummingbird in Underworld: Teaching in a Men’s Prison,” by Deborah Tobola
She Writes Press, 2019, 205 pages, $16.95
Deborah Tobola spent nine years as teaching arts and creative writing to prisoners at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. There she found a love of engaging imprisoned men in the arts and helping them discover their creative voices. Her students won writing awards and produced original plays with music. Despite their success, her programs fell to budget cuts. She earned a degree in English at UM.
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, 203 Brantly Hall, Missoula, MT 59812. Submission of materials does not guarantee that your work will be featured.