The Write Question

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

The Write Question podcast

Sam Kelvig, a third-generation resident, will do just about anything to protect Grandview from the influx of new oil money and the strangers chasing it. Meanwhile, his restless wife, Patricia, wearies of the constraints of marriage to a man who is so tied to his community; Sam’s estranged son, Norby, has reluctantly returned home despite the family’s struggle with accepting his sexuality; Henrik, Sam’s volatile brother, is looking for any easy opportunity; and Blanche, the family matriarch, only wants a bit of peace before she dies.

"Hello, Hippo! Good bye, Bird!" is fun picture book written by Utah author Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Argentinian artist Poly Bernatene. The book is intended for children ages 3-7.

Bird wants to be friends with Hippo, but Hippo wants to be left alone. Bird tells Hippo jokes. Hippo wants Bird to go away. Even though Bird makes himself into an umbrella and keeps bugs off of Hippo by eating them, Hippo still wants Bird to leave him alone. But then, after Bird is gone and a thunderstorm comes, Hippo starts to think he has made a mistake.

You and Me and Him, by Kriss Dinnison
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Maggie and Nash are outsiders: She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. They’re best friends, and they’ve helped each other survive their small-minded small town. But when Tom moves to Cedar Ridge at the start of the school year they have something unexpected in common—feelings for the same guy.

In 1970, Margaret Grundstein abandoned her graduate degree at Yale and followed her husband, an Indonesian prince and community activist, to a commune in the backwoods of Oregon. Together with ten friends and an ever-changing mix of strangers, they began to build their vision of utopia.

'For Myself'

Apr 4, 2016
Bill Walsh

by Lois Red Elk

This day, I adorn braided
sweet grass earrings handed
down from Mother's Santee
rings of aromatic medicine.

From the ancestor lands of
Father's Lakota family, I fill
pockets with handfuls of
cedar, my protective shield.

Into this circle of morning
spirit food, a prayer surfaces
from the Southern recess of
primal night-dwelling dreams.

I thank the Western powers,
where a mirror reflects
images of the ones I trust—
transparent photos of the

David Allan Cates talks about and reads from his latest novel, Tom Connor's Gift, about which Bryan Di Salvatore writes, "Coursing between anecdote and musing, this is a novel only grownups can understand. It is smart and ecstatic and it will break your goddamn heart."

About the book:

A recently-widowed doctor, stunned by grief, retreats to a cabin on Montana's Rocky Mountain Front. Inside she has a puppy and a stack of letters from an old lover. Outside, there's a bear. As she revisits the letters from Tom Connor, we come to see, through his eyes, the dusty, broken alleys of Central America during the war years. The two narratives taken together explore themes of life-long love, about what we can see only when we are ready to see, and how hope can grow in the darkest of places. The third in what the author sees as his "homecoming trilogy" (after Hunger in American and Ben Armstrong's Strange Trip Home), Tom Connor's Gift shines a light on the transformative act of storytelling.

Jessixa Bagley / Roaring Brook Press

The main character in Before I Leave is a young hedgehog, Zelda, who must leave her best friend Aaron, because her family is moving away to another town.  Her parents, and her friend Aaron, assure Zelda that everything will be okay, but she feels scared and doesn’t know if she will be alright. The author/illustrator, Jessixa Bagley, uses very few words. Yet she creates a distinct mood of loss and then lifts that mood with the potential of a new beginning.
 
In the first pages of the book, we see the two friends, Zelda and Aaron playing. There are scenes showing them playing together in all four seasons, but the most  poignant are the scenes of their last day together.  Jessixa Bagley's illustrations set a wonderful tone for this book, which, it turns out, is about creating a life-long friendship.

'Names on the Land'

Mar 28, 2016
Ed Dunens / creative commons

by Joe Wilkins

Freeze Out Notch

The breath of mountains
is dry grass and sloped fields
of winter wheat. Their eyes
are bedrock and ice.

Clearwater Canyon

Old men drink tall glasses
of yellow beer and stare
at themselves in the mirror.

Trailer Hollow

A red-winged blackbird
hops across the hood
of a red pickup.

Hog Meadows

About the book:

Meal or menace? No controversy in nutrition is bigger than wheat.

Review by Logan H. Wilson

A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarter by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder is fun to read and I would recommend it to people of all ages, as long as they are able to handle suspense. It is the second book in the series, and even better than the first. The main characters are Winnie, which is short for Winifred, and Miss Drake. Miss Drake is a dragon but Winnie is a 10-year-old girl. The way Miss Drake thinks of it, Winnie is her pet, but from Winnie’s point of view, Miss Drake is her pet.

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