The Write Question

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A weekly literary program from Montana Public Radio that features writers from the western United States.


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.

Los Angeles Times and NPR film critic Kenneth Turan talks about and reads from his book Not To Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film.

Seal Press

Overwhelmed with her fast-paced, competitive lifestyle, Amy Ragsdale moved with her husband, writer Peter Stark, and their two teenage children from the U.S. to a small town in northeastern Brazil, where she hoped they would learn the value of a slower life.


Jun 27, 2016
Lost Horse Press

by Katrina Roberts

A tower of bales suddenly aflame in Yakima makes
news. Not dry enough, a static flash, indeterminate

cause, though vast lost. Next day, crisp grass beneath
the Ford so he slicks it off. But these things, like sparks

from exhaust—we understand them. What of the wick
effect, spontaneous combustion of human flesh: torso

and arms consumed; bare skull, lower legs intact, rooms
left relatively uncharred while the TV-watcher flares,

Desert Dark by Sonja Stone is kind of a scary book. Nadia is a smart, adventurous and witty young girl who gets chosen for a special school. She is really good at math, coding, and programming. Her new school turns out to be a special spy training school and she eventually trains to become a spy for the CIA. At school she learns how to program and stuff, but I can’t say anymore because it would give too much away.  She’s pretty thrilled at first, but then with the dangers it brings, she’s forced to make decisions that she normally wouldn’t have to make.

In these twelve new stories of All I Want Is What You’ve Got, award-winning author Glen Chamberlain deftly writes about the fragility of small town life. Chamberlain ushers us amongst the half-broken lives, sharing the moments of regret, yet allowing the redemptive qualities of her characters to ultimately shine through. From a night nurse confessing her forgotten desires to an invalid to a Chinese girl trying to piece together a past from a single photograph; from an elderly rodeo cowboy falling in love with a beautiful stranger to a woman acutely aware of the intricacies that lead to her own death, All I Want Is What You’ve Got is that book of stories that reveals how the most profound moments in life are the ones taken for granted.

Ken / Creative Commons

by Stan Sanvel Rubin

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…


Jun 13, 2016
Joe Shlabotnik

by Richard O. Moore

Afterward, you look on the world as a happy place
flush from arrival into a new land of not being in pain.
Is there anything forgotten, now that the screaming's stopped?

University of Nebraska Press

The meeting room was crowded and restless when Bitterroot Valley resident Dennis Palmer rose from his seat and declared, “We don’t want the doggone bears.”  This bold declaration, while representing the sentiments of many attending the public meeting in small, conservative Hamilton, Montana, was more measured than others.  Long-time resident Robert Norton confidently stated, “Women and children are going to be killed and maimed.”  During a similar meeting held in Hamilton two years later, an opponent of grizzly reintroduction read aloud the pathology report of a woman who had been mauled by a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park and displayed a picture of the mangled body for everyone to see. Another positively asserted that people “would rather reintroduce rattlesnakes and water moccasins than grizzly bears.”  Histrionics reached an apex when one local resident lifted his young daughter above his head in the middle of the meeting room.  Everyone’s eyes turned toward the young girl as her father announced to the room that she would be bear bait if the federal government reintroduced grizzlies.  In High Country News, a reporter summed up the frenetic atmosphere of a meeting in rural Salmon, Idaho, which was similar to the other six meetings held across Montana and Idaho in October, 1997, by wryly observing, “Big, stout fully grown men displayed the kind of hostility and fear bordering on panic that, when voiced by women, is usually dismissed as hysteria.”