Montana Public Radio

debut novel

Gangsters, Gamblers, Bootleggers, And Wrestlers

May 3, 2017

Late summer, 1921: Disgraced former lightweight champion Pepper Van Dean has spent the past two years on the carnival circuit performing the dangerous “hangman’s drop” and taking on all comers in nightly challenge bouts. But when he and his cardsharp wife, Moira, are marooned in the wilds of Oregon, Pepper accepts an offer to return to the world of wrestling as a trainer for Garfield Taft, a down-and-out African American heavyweight contender in search of a comeback and a shot at the world title.

Evel Knievel, Polygamist Mormons, And A Great Escape

Dec 28, 2016
Penguin Random House

At the heart of this exciting debut novel, set in Arizona and Idaho in the mid-1970s, is fifteen-year-old Loretta, who slips out of her bedroom every evening to meet her so-called gentile boyfriend. Her strict Mormon parents catch her returning one night, and promptly marry her off to Dean Harder, a devout yet materialistic fundamentalist who already has a wife and a brood of kids. The Harders relocate to his native Idaho, where Dean’s teenage nephew Jason falls hard for Loretta. A Zeppelin and Tolkien fan, Jason worships Evel Knievel and longs to leave his close-minded community. He and Loretta make a break for it. They drive all night, stay in hotels, and relish their dizzying burst of teenage freedom as they seek to recover Dean’s cache of “Mormon gold.” But someone Loretta left behind is on their trail…

As Evelynne Lowry, the daughter of a copper baron, comes of age in early 20th century Montana, the lives of horses dovetail with the lives of people and her own quest for womanhood becomes inextricably intertwined with the future of two men who face nearly insurmountable losses—a lonely steer wrestler named Zion from the Montana highline, and a Cheyenne team roper named William Black Kettle, the descendant of peace chiefs. An epic that runs from the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 to the ore and industry of the 1930s, American Copper is a novel not only about America’s hidden desire for regeneration through violence but the ultimate cost of forgiveness and the demands of atonement. It also explores the genocidal colonization of the Cheyenne, the rise of big copper, and the unrelenting ascent of dominant culture.

cover image: Kim Heacox / Alaska Northwest Books

About Jimmy Bluefeather:

Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old (he lost count awhile ago) and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native (“with some Filipino and Portuguese thrown in”), he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska.

The Home Place, by Carrie La Seur, is a mystery novel in which a successful lawyer is pulled back into her troubled family’s life in rural Montana in the wake of her sister’s death.

About the book:

Freedom, Anarchy, And Suspicion in NW Montana

Jul 1, 2015

About the book:

After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face-to-face with the boy’s profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times.

Novel Explores The Meaning Of Home

Apr 29, 2015

Call Me Home has an epic scope in the tradition of Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves or Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and braids the stories of a family in three distinct voices: Amy, who leaves her Texas home at nineteen to start a new life with a man she barely knows, and her two children, Jackson and Lydia, who are rocked by their parents’ abusive relationship. When Amy is forced to bargain for the safety of one child over the other, she must retrace the steps in the life she has chosen.

Tribal Culture, Archeology, And Horses

Mar 11, 2015

Malcolm Brooks talks about researching and writing his debut novel, Painted Horses.

About the book:

Catherine Lemay is a young archeologist on her way to Montana, with a huge task before her—a canyon “as deep as the devil’s own appetites.”

A Prison Riot, A Fiddle, And The Love Of A Good Woman

Feb 25, 2015

S.M. Hulse talks about the characters in her debut novel Black River. She also reads passages from the book.

About the book:

For Today I Am A Boy

Oct 29, 2014

Kim Fu talks about and reads from her debut novel, For Today I Am A Boy.

About the book:

Peter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivant— grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father.