The Magazine of The University of Montana
By Ginny Merriam
Mammals of Montana
By Kerry R. Foresman,
with photographs by Alexander V. Badyaev
Mountain Press Publishing, 2012, 440 pages, $32
UM biology Professor Kerry Foresman’s new book is a detailed, useful guide to Montana’s mammals. The state’s 109 mammal species range from the tiny pygmy shrew, weighing less than a penny, to the bison, the largest land mammal in North America. Habitat maps and more than 500 color photographs complement the descriptive text. The book, in its second edition, is meant to serve the average interested explorer of the outdoors, as well as the scientist.
Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park: An Insider’s Guide to the 50 Best Places
By Nate Schweber
Stackpole Books, 2012, 282 pages, $19.95
Nate Schweber tells the stories of fifty best fishing spots in Yellowstone through the experiences of locals who usually have adventures to tell about them—a moose charging a canoe, antics with grizzly bears, and bear spray. Throughout the book is the sad refrain of the loss of the park’s native cutthroat trout to the illegally introduced lake trout. Schweber, a 2001 graduate of the UM School of Journalism, works as a freelance reporter and musician in New York City.
The Nature and Culture of Rattan: Reflections on Vanishing Life in the Forests of Southeast Asia
By Stephen F. Siebert
University of Hawaii Press, 2012, 145 pages, $44
Rattan is ubiquitous in the tropical regions of the Old World and vital to millions of rural people throughout those regions as a functional plant used to make furniture, basketry, roof thatching, and as a cash crop. People have used this diverse group of
climbing palms for hundreds of years, but the future is uncertain as populations grow and cash-crop plantations encroach. Siebert, who has lived and researched internationally, is a professor in UM’s College of Forestry and Conservation.
Montana Before History: 11,000 Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains
By Douglas H. MacDonald
Mountain Press Publishing, 2012, 204 pages, $20
Early Montanans hunted bison before the arrival of the horse, made tools from stone, and survived significant changes in climate. UM anthropology Professor Douglas MacDonald draws on his extensive work leading excavations at archaeological sites around Montana and in Yellowstone National Park during summers. Photographs illustrate evidence of our ancestors in the modern-day landscape in such features as medicine wheels and buffalo jumps.
Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History
By Florence Williams
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012, 338 pages, $25.95
Florence Williams’ inner journalist inspired her to learn and share everything she could about the functional yet iconic organ, the human breast. Her reporting led her to discover that breast enlargements are the top-selling cosmetic surgery in the United States and that the metabolic energy required to breastfeed a baby every day is the equivalent of walking seven miles. She interviewed U.S. Marines who were breast cancer survivors. Lively writing from this UM Creative Writing Program graduate creates a highly readable book with a strong message about toxins in our environment.
Blackfoot Redemption: A Blood Indian’s Story of Murder, Confinement, and Imperfect Justice
By William E. Farr
University of Oklahoma Press, 2012, 288 pages, $29.95
UM Professor Emeritus of History William Farr conducted exhaustive research to piece together the unusual story of a Canadian Blackfoot Indian named Spopee whose life in confinement was oddly parallel with the events overtaking his people’s lives of being free, nomadic buffalo hunters. Spopee killed a white man in 1879 and spent more than thirty years in an insane asylum in Washington, D.C. He spent the last year of his life on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana after a pardon from President Woodrow Wilson.
What Next, Old Knife? Poems by David Axelrod
Lost Horse Press, 85 pages, $16.95
David Axelrod studied with Dick Hugo and Patricia Goedicke while earning his M.F.A. in UM’s Creative Writing Program in the early 1980s. This is his sixth collection of poems. He thinks deeply about history, religion, and culture, which informs his work. He lives in LaGrande, Ore., where he teaches English and writing at Eastern Oregon University.
In the Kingdom of Men
By Kim Barnes
Alfred A. Knopf, 2012, 314 pages, $24.95
Kim Barnes’ new novel tells the story of Gin Mitchell, raised by her Methodist minister grandfather in a two-room shack in Oklahoma, married improbably to hometown hero Mason McPhee, and transplanted to Saudi Arabia when Mason takes a job with the Arabian American Oil Company. The world turns confusing when a young Bedouin woman is found dead. Barnes, a graduate of the UM Creative Writing Program who teaches at the University of Idaho, takes the reader into a world where the oil industry meets an old and very different culture.
Ben Armstrong’s Strange Trip Home
By David Allan Cates
Novelas Americanas, 2012,
192 pages, $14
Debra Magpie Earling calls David Cates’ new novel, his fourth, “invitingly mysterious and breathtakingly compelling.” Indeed, in the first few pages, the protagonist finds his brother at the top of the stairs, dead and growing scales as he turns into a fish, and he sees his mother’s ghost. Cates, a master of off-kilter reality a la Franz Kafka, brings a middle-aged farm boy back to home ground for a startlingly twisted homecoming. Cates earned his M.F.A. in creative writing at UM.
Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic
Story by Ginnie Lo,
illustrations by Beth Lo
Lee & Low Books, Inc., 2012,
32 pages, $18.95
UM ceramicist and art Professor Beth Lo teams up with her sister for the second time, this time on a book that’s aimed at children ages six to ten but will speak to readers of all ages. The Chinese-American Lo family lived in Indiana and drove often to their Auntie and Uncle Yang’s home just outside Chicago. Their discovery of a soybean field while out on a Sunday drive creates a tradition that drew in family and new friends and grew for forty years.
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.
Ginny Merriam lives in Missoula.