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The Write Question
Program Website: http://mtpr.org/term/write-question-0
The Write Question is a weekly, half-hour program that explores
writing and publishing in the Western United States. Chérie
Newman, a producer with Montana
Public Radio, interviews writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
And, occasionally, a publisher or editor. The program includes readings
and information about the publishing process. The Write Question
receives funding from Humanities
Montana and the Montana Cultural Trust.
The author of Dirt Works: An Education in the Woods, Christine Byl, first encountered the national parks the way most of us do: on vacation. But after she graduated from college, broke and ready for a new challenge, she joined a Glacier National Park trail crew as a seasonal “traildog” maintaining mountain trails for the millions of visitors Glacier draws every year. Byl first thought of the job as a paycheck, a summer diversion, a welcome break from “the real world” before going on to graduate school. She came to find out that work in the woods on a trail crew was more demanding, more rewarding—more real—than she ever imagined.
In 1956, Dell Parsons' family came to a stop in Great Falls, Montana, the way many military families did after the war. His father, Bev, was a talkative airman from Alabama with an optimistic and easy-scheming nature. Their mother Neeva—shy, artistic—was alienated from their father's small-town world. It was more bad instincts and bad luck that Dell's parents decided to rob the bank. They weren't reckless people. In his novel Canada, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford tells their story.
Carrie La Seur
The only Terrebonne who made it out, Alma thought she was done with Montana, with its bleak winters and stifling ways. But an unexpected call from the local police takes the successful lawyer back to her provincial hometown and pulls her into the family trouble she thought she’d left far behind: Her lying, party-loving sister, Vicky, is dead. Alma is told that a very drunk Vicky had wandered away from a party and died of exposure after a night in the brutal cold. But when Alma returns home to bury Vicky and see to her orphaned niece, she discovers that the death may not have been an accident. The Home Place, set in Billings and ranchland near Hardin, combines a murder myster with an exploration of family dysfuntion and cultural stereotypes.
Joe Ashbrook Nickell
Bill Ohrmann only began seriously painting when he retired from ranching in 1996. Since then, the 95-year-old Montana artist has produced hundreds of canvases that explore his blistering criticism of the modern West. His direct, narrative paintings, often inspired by quotations from his favorite poets and environmental writers, are by turns wry, apocalyptic, horrifying and hilarious. In Tainted Revelations, Joe Ashbrook Nickell maps out the broad landscape of Ohrmann's oeuvre, communing along with the way with the cavemen and future-men, tigers and mice, neighbors and nymphs who speak their truths through the painter's brush. Part biography, part meditation, Nickell's text is coupled with more than 90 color reproductions of Ohrmann's work, eloquently illuminating the artist's singular worldview and impassioned concern for the plight of oppressed souls--human and otherwise--of this earth.
In the first book in the Maze Runner series, Thomas wakes up in the lift and the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
Against the backdrop of a glittering but brutal circus world, Last Chain On Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped The Big Top charts the history of elephants in America, the inspiring story of the Elephant Sanctuary and the spellbinding tale of a resilient elephant who defied the system even as she struggled to conquer her past, who never lost sight of the life she was meant to have. For decades, Billie crisscrossed the country, dazzling audiences as she performed breathtaking stunts. But behind the scenes she lived a life of misery: traveling in trucks, chained for hours on end, barely able to move, giving eight-minute performances under harsh lights and to the sounds of blaring music. And worse. The compelling story of Billie’s battle to reclaim her old self is a testament to the intelligence, emotional complexity and remarkable strength of all elephants, captive or free.
In a gripping memoir, Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West, Bryce Andrews chronicles life on the remote, windswept Sun Ranch in southwest Montana, and his encounter with a wolf. Just over the border from Yellowstone National Park, the Sun holds giant herds of cattle and elk amid many predators—bears, mountain lions, and wolves. Andrews recounts marathon days and nights of building fences, riding, roping, and otherwise learning the hard business of caring for cattle, an initiation that changes him from an idealistic city kid into a skilled ranch hand. But when wolves suddenly begin killing the ranch’s cattle, Andrews has to shoulder a rifle, chase the pack, and do what he’d hoped he would never have to do.
After meeting at a boatman's bash on the Snake River, river runners Maddy and Dalt embark on a lifelong love affair. They marry on the banks of the Buffalo Fork, sure they'll live there the rest of their days. Forced by the economics of tourism to leave Wyoming, they start a new adventure, opening their own river business in Ashland, Oregon: Halfmoon Whitewater. They prosper there, leading rafting trips and guiding fishermen into the wilds of Mongolia and Russia. But when Maddy, laid low by dizzy spells, with a mono that isn't quite mono, both discovers she is pregnant and is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, they realize their adventure is just beginning. Driven by her irresistible voice, full of wit and humor and defiance, If Not For This is a love story like no other.
In her fourth nonfiction book, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller braids a multi-layered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the emotionally frozen landscape of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war-torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land, and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. A story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of the author's family.