Montana Public Radio

Emily Dickinson And Psyche Influence Novel Set In The American West

Nov 19, 2014

Bruce Holbert talks about his new novel, The Hour of Lead. He also explains how the Myth of the West damages human relationships and why the bad guys still get the girls.

About the book:

The Hour of Lead is the story of the damage the West and its mythology does to the people in it. The novel is both a reflection of a myth violent enough to incite such acts and mythic in itself.  The events often have strange sort of harmony that a more realistic book would steer clear of.  The book covers almost eighty years.  There are four main characters.  The first is Matt Lawson who is thrust into the unfamiliar role of manhood too early.  He is befuddled by the transition and remains so much of the book.  He avoids others out of fear and discomfort, rather than the traditional taciturn reticence one finds in popular movies.  In Lawson’s life (and the lives of most in this place) silence is clearly a demon rather than a boon.

The book also follows Wendy, a peculiar girl a few years younger than Matt, whom he encounters off and on throughout the book in failed attempts to reconcile his distance with a human connection, until near the end when they have both endured more than their share of hardships.

Linda Jefferson is a school teacher, who has relationships with both Wendy and Matt, and as a result, is slowly going mad and Lucky is her son who is intertwined with both Matt and Wendy in a tragi-comic manner.

The book ends in absolution for some and torment for others, but in the end it is the history of a happy family.

Bruce Holbert

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Bruce Holbert is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop where he assisted in editing The Iowa Review and held a Teaching Writing Fellowship.  His fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, Other Voices, The Antioch Review, Crab Creek Review, The Spokesman Review, The West Wind Review, Cairn, RiverLit, Del Sol, and 94 Creations and has won annual awards from the Tampa Tribune Quarterly and The Inlander.  His non-fiction has appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Spokesman Review,  The Daily Iowan, Quarterly West, Ducts, The Sante Fe Writers Project, River Lit, The Portland Review, The San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review and The New York Times  and his poetry in RiverLit, The Bacon Review, The Big River Poetry Review.  He recently co-authored, with his wife, Signed, Your Student (Kaplan Press) a collection of remembrances of influential teachers recounted by prominent Americans.  His first novel Lonesome Animals was released May of 2012.