The Magazine of The University of Montana
by Ginny Merriam
By Kevin Canty
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2010, 282 pages, $25.95
Kevin Canty studied at UM in the 1970s with Richard Hugo, William Kittredge, Madeline DeFrees, and other creative writing greats. Now he’s the teacher. His new novel, marked by his powerful use of voice, tells the stories of five Montanans struggling to find meaning in the events of life. A San Francisco Chronicle reviewer said, “Once the scenes begin to accrue, you realize that you’re in the hands of a master craftsman.”
Bound Like Grass: A Memoir from the Western High Plains
By Ruth McLaughlin
University of Oklahoma Press, 2010, 200 pages, $24.95
Ruth McLaughlin’s Swedish-American grandparents established their wheat and cattle homestead ten miles outside Culbertson with great hopes. Her parents barely kept themselves and their children alive there, scratching out a living in a setting that was a struggle both nutritionally and emotionally. McLaughlin, a UM graduate who teaches writing in Great Falls, came to the frank memoir of her family’s 100 years on the remote high plains through tentative starts written with pencils on the backs of envelopes. She found that despite her family’s failure, she is still bound like grass to the landscape.
River House: A Memoir
By Sarahlee Lawrence
Tin House Books, 2010, 272 pages, $16.95
Sarahlee Lawrence, who earned a master’s degree in environmental science and writing at UM, had rafted some of the world’s most challenging rivers by the time she was twenty-one. She spent a decade living her dream life away from the remote, dusty Oregon ranch where she grew up. But returning to her family’s ranch to build a log house, manage a herd of forty horses, and establish an organic vegetable farm turns out to be an adventure of equal challenge. Readers get a dose of nature writing and the rediscovery of family.
Visions of the Big Sky:
Painting and Photographing the Northern Rocky Mountain West
By Dan Flores
University of Oklahoma Press, 2010, 234 pages, $45.00
History professor Dan Flores’ essays exploring the art history of the Northern Rockies take his readers from George Catlin’s early-1800s paintings of the West to Albert Bierstadt’s memorable 1881 painting of Yellowstone Falls to Ansel Adams’ classic photographs. Flores asks in the final essay, “In the end, what was Charlie Russell trying to tell us?”
Growing a Garden City: How Farmers, First Graders, Counselors, Troubled Teens, Foodies, a Homeless Shelter Chef, Single Mothers, and More are Transforming Themselves and Their Neighborhoods Through the Intersection of Local Agriculture and Community – and How You Can, Too
By Jeremy N. Smith
Photography by Chad Harder and Sepp Jannotta
Skyhorse Publishing, 2010, 225 pages, $24.95
It’s easy to live in Missoula, Mont., and take local agriculture for granted: Garden City Harvest is ever-present, the PEAS Farm a dog-walk away. Jeremy Smith, who earned his M.F.A. in creative writing at UM, pulls it all together using personal stories of Missoula residents to show how remarkable this medium-sized Western town is—and how far it has come in feeding itself. Smith busts myths: Local food is not too expensive, not too time-consuming, does not need a California climate, and it’s not elitist.
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, 325 Brantly Hall, Missoula, MT 59812. Submission of materials does not guarantee that your work will be featured.
Journalist Ginny Merriam lives in Missoula.