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Bryce Andrews re-writes western myths: Anti-violence, inheritance, reciprocity, and belonging in ‘Holding Fire’

Bryce Andrews, author of ‘Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West’ (Mariner Books, HarperCollins).
Gillian Thornton Andrews
Bryce Andrews, author of ‘Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West’ (Mariner Books, HarperCollins).

This week on The Write Question, host Lauren Korn speaks with Bryce Andrews, author of Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West (Mariner Books, HarperCollins). When he inherits his grandfather’s Smith & Wesson revolver, Andrews faces the history of violence in his valley of the American West. Examining ecological grief as much as the violence precedes it, and also what it means to inherit (and subsequently reject) a legacy of violence, Andrews, in his characteristically reverent and thoughtful prose, manages to untangle a region’s historically violent past from his own regenerative—even optimistic—future.

Note: Bryce will be in conversation with author Ryan Busse on April 25, 2023, at 7PM at the Zootown Arts Community Center in Missoula. This will be a Montana Book Festival off-season event, produced by Montana Public Radio.

About Bryce:

Bryce Andrews is the author of Down from the Mountain, which won the Banff Mountain Book Competition and was a Montana Book Award Honor Title and an Amazon Best Science Title of 2019. His first book was Badluck Way, which won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the Reading the West Book Award for nonfiction, and the High Plains Book Award for both nonfiction and debut book. Andrews grew up in Seattle, Washington, and spent a decade working on ranches in the high valleys of Montana. He lives near Missoula with his family.

Bryce Andrews recommends:

Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling (Reprint, Milkweed Editions)

The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water by Chris Dombrowski (Milkweed Editions)

Sun House by David James Duncan (Forthcoming; Little, Brown & Company)

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller (Back Bay Books)

Lauren Korn recommends:

Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West (Atria Books), Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear (Mariner Books), and Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West (Mariner Books) by Bryce Andrews

Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America by Ryan Busse (Public Affairs)

Perma Red and The Lost Journals of Sacajewea by Debra Magpie Earling (Milkweed Editions)

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Milkweed Editions)

Come West and See and Ruthie Fear (W. W. Norton & Company) by Maxim Loskutoff

Hole in the Sky by William Kittredge (Vintage Books)

The Write Question team for this episode was Lauren Korn, host, co-producer, and editor; Chris Moyles, co-producer and sound engineer; and Jake Birch, co-producer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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