S. R. Martin Jr.
A young man from Monterey and his younger brother go on their first deer hunt with their minister father and his friends. The setting is 1950s northern California, in country where, from the right height, one can see Mt. Shasta in one direction, Mt. Lassen in the other. It is a region of small, insular towns, and although it is a familiar hunting ground for the Reverend and his buddies, not everyone there welcomes black hunters. Father and son both shoulder their pride, and a racial confrontation seems inevitable.
Among the lessons young Satch learns is the sometime advantage of wit and spine. During their days in the wilderness, the brothers are initiated to the right practice of the hunt and camp and to the ribald talk, needling banter, camp tales, and occasional aggravation of sundry friends. Hunting has a primal nature, but as Satch sees, so may the variable interactions of men.
Gretta Bitsilly, gin-steeped mother of two and self-proclaimed expert at standing outside the margins of ethnicity and peering in, has been all but eclipsed by the world that eludes her--as a wife, a writer, a skeptic in "the other land of Zion," Utah. Gretta has set off to Fort Defiance, Arizona, where she hopes to convince her Navajo husband, who has escaped not from his family but from alcoholism, to come home.
Over a sputtering two-steps-forward, one-step-back desert journey, Gretta is diverted by chance, seizures, an inconstant memory, and the disjointed character of her irresolute quest.
She is fueled by a volatile mix of rage and curiosity and is rendered careless by ambivalence toward her marriage--she knows a welcome mat will not be waiting for her, "that white girl" who can't seem to get anything right. On route Gretta finds herself lost in the landscape, in strange company, or in her own convolution of language and inner space. With a dictionary and a laptop she attempts to write herself into a better existence--a hopeful existence--and to connect points of intellectual, physical, even spiritual reference.
This tale, though dark and difficult, is infused with tart, twisted humor. Confused, disheveled, self-deprecating, and self-destructive, Gretta is also sharp and funny. Here, first-time novelist Christine Allen-Yazzie breaks apart her own narrative arc but with gritty reality seals it near-shut again, if in rearrangement, drawing us into Gretta's wrestling match with herself, her husband, her addiction, and the road.
Three generations of the Demas family face the ups and downs of the twentieth century after their fathers leave the coal mines that drew them from Greece to America, become wool growers and small businessmen, and Americanize their Demopoulos name. As the years pass, the family accumulates untidy lives and tragedies. Parents seek to keep their children tightly bound by old-country customs, to arrange marriages, and to foist their views of women's inferiority on their daughters. Lia Papastamos in particular, child of a forced marriage between her Greek father and Amerikanidha mother, pulls away from the stifling burden of family tradition and interference, but she and her husband must contend with the decline that time, synthetics, and changing tastes bring to a once-thriving sheep business.
Helen Papanikolas was one of Utah's most revered authors. Known and respected nationally and internationally as the preeminent narrator of the Greek American experience, appreciated in Utah particularly for her documentation of our multicultural history, she is widely admired as well for her storytelling through fiction and memoirs. Rain in the Valley, her last book, is a culmination. In a narrative rich with life, insight, and experience she portrays the generations of a Greek-American family. Their story is rooted in sheepherding, set primarily in Helper, Utah, and shaped by the changes that the twentieth century brings to them.
Helen Papanikolas is widely known as the preeminent narrator of the Greek American experience. Her ýmonumental contributionsý were honored in 2003 with a special issue of the Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora. Those contributions include Greek and multicultural histories, folklore studies, memoirs, and several works of fiction, including The Time of the Little Black Bird; The Apple Falls from the Apple Tree: Stories; and Small Bird, Tell Me: Stories of Greek Immigrants in Utah. Rain in the Valley was the last work she completed before her death in late 2004.
W. T. Pfefferle
Out to see America and satisfy his travel bug, W. T. Pfefferle resigned from his position as director of the writing program at Johns Hopkins University and hit the road to interview sixty-two poets about the significance of place in their work. The lively conversations that resulted may surprise with the potential meanings of a seemingly simple concept. This gathering of voices and ideas is illustrated with photo and word portraits from the road and represented with suitable poems.
The poets are James Harms, David Citino, Martha Collins, Linda Gregerson, Richard Tillinghast, Orlando Ricardo Menes, Mark Strand, Karen Volkman, Lisa Samuels, Marvin Bell, Michael Dennis Browne, David Allan Evans, David Romtvedt, Sandra Alcosser, Robert Wrigley, Nance Van Winckel, Christopher Howell, Mark Halperin, Jana Harris, Sam Hamill, Barbara Drake, Floyd Skloot, Ralph Angel, Carol Muske-Dukes, David St. John, Sharon Bryan, Donald Revell, Claudia Keelan, Alberto Rios, Richard Shelton, Jane Miller, William Wenthe, Naomi Shihab Nye, Peter Cooley, Miller Williams, Beth Ann Fennelly, Natasha Trethewey, Denise Duhamel, Campbell McGrath, Terrance Hayes, Alan Shapiro, Nikki Giovanni, Charles Wright, Rita Dove, Henry Taylor, Dave Smith, Nicole Cooley, David Lehman, Lucie Brock-Broido, Michael S. Harper, C. D. Wright, Mark Wunderlich, James Cummins, Frederick Smock, Mark Jarman, Carl Phillips, Scott Cairns, Elizabeth Dodd, Jonathan Holden, Bin Ramke, Kenneth Brewer, and Paisley Rekdal.
A cougar attacks a jogger in the suburbs of a western city. Charlie Sayers, facing retirement as a wildlife biologist at a downsized state agency, is drawn into the search for the lion. He gets caught up in the conflict between wildlife habitat and an increasingly developed environment as, teetering between crisis and farce, he tries to piece together the puzzle of his own life.
In the world of cowboy poetry, no poet is better known or more widely appreciated than Bruce Kiskaddon. Though he died in 1950 his poems have been at the forefront of the cowboy poetry revival that began in the 1980s and have been reprinted frequently in published collections and anthologies. What is less known is that Kiskaddon during his lifetime also published stories. These humorous, realistic prose sketches of cowboy life were almost lost, but they are in their own right gems of literary Americana on a par with the poems. Originally published in the Western Livestock Journal between 1932 and 1939, the short stories drew on Kiskaddon's own experience of ranching in the Southwest and Australia to portray real life on the range. Bill Siems has recovered these stories and compiled and introduced them in this new collection, to which he has added a selection of Kiskaddon's poems and the original drawings that accompanied them, by Katherine Field, a fine, underappreciated western artist.
Set in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, the stories are a loosely tied string of old timer's yarns with a continuing cast of engaging characters, whom Kiskaddon avoids reducing to cowboy stereotypes. They include, as Siems describes them, "Kiskaddon himself as the character Shorty. As a common waddy with a small man's feistiness and a young man's mischief, Shorty encounters the wicked world with a succession of companions: Bill, high-headed and a bit of an outlaw; Rildy Briggs, untamable and unstoppable young cowgirl; and Ike, an old-fashioned dandy and 'a very fortunate person.' More or less in the background is the Boss-actually a series of Bosses-generally affectionately respected as long as he remains democratic in his dealings with the waddies. Buffoonery is provided by a succession of pompous characters, from townspeople who look down their noses on wild, unwashed waddies to professors from the East who have read books on how ranches should be run."