Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm


15 Jul 2014
by  - 
Most communities across the West, urban and rural, are home to the animals in Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s new book, The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild, a collection of joyful meditations on the fauna that scamper over our lawns and roost on our power poles. While eastern gray squirrels, crows and the other denizens of Haupt’s bestiary make up the most accessible of the local wildlife, Haupt worries that their very familiarity renders them somehow “unwild” to us, and therefore not worth our notice. We imagine wildlife as, say, a moose wading in some distant boreal swamp, but consider nearby and more common animals like racoons and starlings as much less important, reducing them “to fluffy cuteness or mere annoyance.” That simplification, Haupt argues, robs us of a better understanding of the world and our influence on it. “I come to this understanding by exploring wilderness with a pack on…
11 Jul 2014
by  - 
Josefina Lopez has lived an incredible life—and that life has inspired her acclaimed work as a playwright and now as a novelist. She’ll be appearing at Café Aroma as part of the Fourth Annual Idyllwild Authors Series at 3 p.m., Sunday, July 13. Lopez is best known as the award-winning writer of Real Women Have Curves, a play which went on to be adapted into a film. Her personal story, in some ways, is one of living the American dream: Lopez was 5 years old when she came to the United States with her family from Mexico. She grew up in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, was part of the first graduating class of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. During a recent phone interview, Lopez discussed the shock she felt when she learned she was undocumented. “I didn’t know I was undocumented until…
12 Jul 2014
by  - 
For 40 years, Barry Lopez has been at the center of the national and international conversation about social justice, and the fate of humanity and the Earth. In Conversations With Barry Lopez, the National Book Award-winning writer’s thought, precision and intelligence are brought gracefully to the page in three candid personal interviews with his longtime friend, William E. Tydeman, a writer and archivist at Texas Tech University’s Southwest Collections/Special Collections Library. The book also features an introduction to Lopez’s life and work, 19 black-and-white photographs and a comprehensive bibliography. Tydeman’s close relationship with Lopez allows the two men to travel through the kind of conversational territory that begins in restraint and formality, and leads into the heart. If Lopez’s manner appears rehearsed, it also lacks pretense; rather, it reflects his careful and heartfelt consideration of his art and of the world in which we all live. Lopez and Tydeman take…
05 Jul 2014
by  - 
Rancher Leonard Self is the type of elderly man who keeps “his shades drawn, his talk necessary, his actions to the problem at hand.” In the wake of the death of his wife, Inetta, he’s been winnowing his ranch goods, his farmhouse, his life itself, succumbing to a darkening that “was not pain but bone-deep numbness. Not nightmares but short dreamless sleep and long wakefulness. Not chaos but an empty, unbudging sameness.” On the anniversary of Inetta’s passing, he plans to scatter her ashes off a cliff—and leap to his own death. Len, the protagonist of Charlie Quimby’s Monument Road, is a thoroughgoing old codger who doesn’t know how to live without his wife or deal with the changes in his Western town. He doesn’t know what to make of the tattooed waitresses slinging pizza to cheerful mountain bikers. He still buys his gas with cash, mends his clothing and…
24 Jun 2014
by  - 
Sid Dulaney leaves his cheating girlfriend behind in Massachusetts and returns home to Tucson, Ariz., in Sunland, Oregon writer Don Waters’ hilarious first novel. Sid had worked as an itinerant teacher, but finds himself jobless in Tucson, where he spends his time looking after his beloved grandmother, Nana. He starts crossing the border to buy 88-year-old Nana’s medications more cheaply in Mexico. When Nana’s fellow residents at the Paseo del Sol retirement community ask him to do the same for them, he becomes a prescription drug-runner for grateful senior citizens. “At first,” Sid explains, “I had trouble accepting the little amounts people could pay me for delivering drugs. My problem was that I liked these old folks too much. I liked their unending kindness, their teary eyes and their crazy fashion sensibilities. … Very few people had the time to sit down, prepare a pot of tea, and talk to…
20 Jun 2014
by  - 
Most people who think of Portland, Ore., today picture charismatic bridges spanning the sparkling Willamette River, cozy coffeehouses and brewpubs on rain-slick streets, and passionate environmentalists bicycling to farmers markets. But behind the scenes, Portland in the 1990s teemed with crack-dealers and users willing to sacrifice home and family for a night’s partying. And if you were African American, according to author Mitchell S. Jackson, life could be a specific sort of hell fraught with racial profiling and a lack of educational and employment opportunities—unless you were very, very good at basketball. “Let them quit screaming your name,” he writes of young black athletes in his debut autobiographical novel, The Residue Years, “and worse-case you just might rob a bank (who gets away with that?), just might hatch a (hand to God this happened) flawed murder-for-insurance plot. But maybe it’s just here. In my city. Not yours.” The Residue Years…
17 Jun 2014
by  - 
Welcome to Oakpine, a fictional small town on Wyoming’s eastern plains where four high school pals reunite in 1999, after 30 years spent leading very separate lives. In his latest novel, Return to Oakpine, award-winning author Ron Carlson tells a moving but quiet tale about a group of regular guys who don’t say much to each other as they try to figure out where their lives have gone to so far—and where they’re headed now. Two of the characters have never left Oakpine: Craig, a second-generation hardware-store owner, and Frank, proprietor of the Antlers bar and a novice microbrewer. Two are returning: Mason, a disillusioned Denver lawyer, and Jimmy, an accomplished New York City writer with AIDS who’s come home to die. In a subtle, bittersweet farewell to Jimmy, the friends decide to reconstitute Life on Earth, their not-so-hot high school garage band, in order to enter a Battle of…
02 Jun 2014
by  - 
Ex-Red Sox pitcher Pete Hurley comes to Bozeman, Mont., to start a new life after a series of tragic mishaps that left him publicly shamed in Massachusetts. "Just as I was about to get over the incident that ended my baseball career," he explains, "a drunken accident left this young girl paralyzed, and I was in the news again." He moves to Montana to live near his sister, Danielle, the only surviving member of his immediate family, and to learn how to build a house. The gradual cracking of Pete’s limited awareness is the primary thrust of High and Inside, Russell Rowland’s new novel. Pete, who narrates the story, thinks he suffers from bad luck, but his friends know better, and the reader realizes it as well in the first chapter, when Danielle tells him, "Please try not to drink too much while you’re here." But Pete can’t stay out…
23 May 2014
by  - 
Local author Harold Gershowitz has written a book with Jewish characters before. His first title, Remember This Dream, told a story of Polish Jews who immigrated to America. Now he’s back with his second book, Heirs of Eden, a political and historical romance. Heirs of Eden is set in 1949 in Washington, D.C., and follows the love story of Noah, the son of Orthodox Jewish grocery-store owners, and Alexandra, a Christian from a family of Palestinian refugees. Noah spots Alexandra after his bar mitzvah; Alexandra’s family crossed paths with Noah’s family, leading to a friendly invite to the bar mitzvah. A deep love unfolds between Noah and Alexandra that goes beyond religion, culture and origins; the prologue calls it a “lovers of peace” story. Of course, since the story is set right after the Israeli War of Independence, conflict is undeniable, as the two families struggle, and their children enter…
15 Apr 2014
by  - 
It’s unthinkable that kids in America would ever be allowed to play “slaves and masters,” writes Walter Echo-Hawk, but we don’t see anything wrong with Junior strapping on the trusty ol’ cap-shooters for a game of “cowboys and Indians.” Echo-Hawk, a Pawnee tribal member and lawyer who has toiled for 35 years in federal Indian law, has written a provocative book that examines the tragic and continuing effects of colonial conquest and its resulting “settler” mindset. He does this without ever scolding his readers and succeeds in pointing a way toward eventual healing. In the Light of Justice shines its light onto often-overlooked issues, explaining that what many whites think of as history—a bygone era of treaty-making, frontier warfare and taming the West—is, to most Indian people, actually current events. S. James Anaya, a human-rights investigator for the United Nations, agrees. In his foreword to the book, Anaya writes that,…