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.
Evelynne’s story is a poignant elegy to horses, cowboys both native and euro-american, the stubbornness of racism, and the entanglements of modern humanity during the first third of the twentieth century. Set against the wide plains and soaring mountainscapes of Montana, this is the American West re-envisioned, imbued with unconditional violence, but also timeless understandings of loyalty, love, and home.
Poet and prose writer Shann Ray teaches leadership and forgiveness studies at Gonzaga University. His debut novel, American Copper, set in early 20th century Montana featuring bar fights, forgiveness and love, is available now, published by Unbridled Books and renowned editor Greg Michalson formerly of the Missouri Review. A former professional basketball player, Ray’s collection of stories American Masculine (Graywolf) won the American Book Award, the Bakeless Prize from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and two High Plains Book Awards, for Best Story Collection and Best First Book. His book of poems, Balefire, (Lost Horse) won the High Plains Book Award for Poetry.