Twenty-one stories from the best writers in Big Sky Country....
|Title||:||The Best of Montana's Short Fiction|
|Number of Pages||:||352 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Best of Montana's Short Fiction Reviews
Of all the Western states, Montana surely has had more than its share of good writers. Here are short stories by 21 of them, each a well crafted and telling glimpse into the lives of modern day people living under that timeless Big Sky. Many of my favorites are here, especially Ralph Beer and Kim Zupan, neither of whom have written and published nearly enough fiction or nonfiction for my money. And there are many more: Jon Billman, Richard Ford, David Long, and the wonderful Maile Meloy whose poignantly conceived characters can break your heart. Tom McGuane is also here, with his bushwhacked perspective on just about everything.Editors Kittredge and Jones happily include stories of their own. In both, as in several others, the melancholy shadow of Raymond Carver lurks in portrayals of lives lived on the ragged edge of lost hopes. But balanced against this is a redeeming (if sometimes misdirected) toughness that preserves a kind of integrity in the face of adversity. A gentle older man with a leg brace picks up a woman at a topless bar when his alcoholic girlfriend leaves him for a man from her past in Beer's "Big Spenders." An obsessive trout fisherman and aspiring participant in Little Bighorn reenactments takes a school teacher friend on a hilarious trip to Deadwood, South Dakota in Billman's "Custer on Mondays." The hapless narrator of John Canty's "Junk" gets a visit from his hard-as-nails ex-wife, and as an old Thunderbird figures into the story, the rest is literally a matter of waiting for an accident to happen.A young rancher, living alone, becomes obsessed with a Hutterite girl he's never spoken to in Pete Fromm's "Hoot." In Jones' darkly angry "Jacob Dies," a down-on-his-luck cowboy goes on a desperate search for a runaway wife and buys a ranch of another kind. Relationships in most of the stories are tenuous and failing, though in Kittredge's "Do You Hear Your Mother Talking?" something hopeful materializes as a troubled man and a woman confront his failed nerve over a suitcase he is packing. Something similar happens for a middle-aged widow in Annick Smith's lovely autobiographical "It's Come to This."There are two boxing stories, Neil McMahon's tender "Heart," about a boxer in bouts with two prison inmates, and Chris Offut's "Tough People," in which a gambler with designs on a young woman coaches her in a match with a much tougher woman. In Malanie Rae Thon's sorrowful "Father, Lover, Deadman, Dreamer," a father and wayward daughter live a lifetime of grief after a hit-and-run accident. Finally, there are "brokeback" undercurrents in Kim Zupan's "The Mourning of Ignacio Rosa," as a sheriff investigates the death of a gay ranch hand.Not *all* of Montana's best by far, but a terrific sampling. For an introduction to many more writers from the American West, see Kittredge's anthology, "The Portable Western Reader."
What an absolutely fantastic collection. I liked this so much I started with a library copy but purchased it halfway through (I started with a library copy). Some of the stories, obviously, are less strong than others, and a few fall flat, but overall the work here is tremendously rich. Of course Richard Ford's "Great Falls" is a standout, but there are also a number of new (to me) names in here that I can't wait to check out. Claire Davis first and foremost. A lot of novel recommendations as well, in the intro, which will have me reading Montanese fiction for years. Highly recommended to anyone interested in West-based fiction (i.e. anything outside of New York, basically), stories where the landscape figures in heavily. These are hardly well-to-do narrators, but the collection avoids the squalid, pitiable "loser" angle that would have made this a much weaker collection. Basically anyone who likes the outdoors and reading should own this collection. Which makes it sound like it's all descriptions of mountains and trees. Come on. Fans of Carver, Ford, Jim Harrison, this is a collection for you.