MTPR

The Write Question

Thursday 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM

The Write Question is a weekly literary program that features authors from the western United States, including James Lee Burke, Maile Meloy, Thomas McGuane, Kim Barnes, Robert Wrigley, Jess Walter, Pam Houston, Barry Lopez, and hundreds of others.

New host & producer Sarah Aronson takes the reins beginning August 17, 2017. Executive producer, Michael Marsolek; studio engineer, Beth Anne Austein. The music in some programs was written and performed by John Floridis. The Write Question was previously hosted & produced by Chérie Newman.

The Write Question podcast

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Running Press

“Plenty of romantic moments will make starry-eyed readers swoon”

―Kirkus Reviews

Anna’s older sister (and idol), Storm, has just died in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation. Anna is completely lost until she finds her sister’s summer bucket list and decides to honor her memory by trying to complete it. She and her neighbor (and sister’s lifelong best friend) Cameron set off on an epic cross-country journey (#9: Road Trip!) to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town.

Book Cover

Master storyteller Kevin Canty returns with "The Underworld," a lyrical, haunting novel about a hardscrabble small town in Idaho and the disaster that comes to define it. Inspired by a disastrous mine fire in the early 1970s, "The Underworld" gracefully imagines a community shattered, and ultimately altered and rebuilt, by tragedy.

Mermaids, Wildlife Politics, Murder, And Lost Love

Aug 10, 2017
Penguin Random House

In the wake of Fourth of July fireworks in Montana’s Madison Valley, Hyalite County sheriff Martha Ettinger and Deputy Sheriff Harold Little Feather investigate a horrific scene at the Palisades cliffs, where a herd of bison have fallen to their deaths. Victims of blind panic caused by the pyrotechnics, or a ritualistic hunting practice dating back thousands of years? The person who would know is beyond asking, an Indian man found dead among the bison, his leg pierced by an arrow.
 

The new host of Montana Public Radio’s literary program can’t get her head out of the books. Luckily for Sarah Aronson, who was named host of “The Write Question” this summer, it’s what she loves to do.

“I’m thrilled to read new works,” Aronson said. “And I love that I get to have thoughtful conversations with the authors.”

Author's Deep Dive Into The Baker Massacre

Aug 2, 2017
University of Oklahoma Press

On the morning of January 23, 1870, troops of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry attacked a Piegan Indian village on the Marias River in Montana Territory, killing many more than the army’s count of 173, most of them women, children, and old men. The village was afflicted with smallpox. Worse, it was the wrong encampment. Intended as a retaliation against Mountain Chief’s renegade band, the massacre sparked public outrage when news sources revealed that the battalion had attacked Heavy Runner’s innocent village—and that guides had told its inebriated commander, Major Eugene Baker, he was on the wrong trail, but he struck anyway. Remembered as one of the most heinous incidents of the Indian Wars, the Baker Massacre has often been overshadowed by the better-known Battle of the Little Bighorn and has never received full treatment until now.

There's no first stanza and maybe we should all go home,
since thinking isn't easy under any circumstances. And if

'home' is what's under construction? The work crew first
disconnects the stove, then turns up the radio. Omelets and broken

eggs, yes, but quiet and even the chips and cracks
were the script. Like the script of a one-note seasonal bird

when a chill moves over a lake. But not like the radio.
The first rule of construction? Destruction. Even the bees

When A Corpse Erodes Out Of A Hillside...

Jul 26, 2017

“Allen Jones’s A Bloom of Bones is simply riveting. Always lyrical, often wise, filled with vitality, and the promise that love and loyalty can surmount the darkness in our lives. I couldn’t put it down.” — Mark Spragg, author, Where Rivers Change Direction and An Unfinished Life

“What a terrific novel Allen Jones has given us! Two attractive but emotionally isolated people, a rancher on the starved-to-death plains north of Jordan Montana who has written his way into nationally interested poetry, and a young woman who represents his New York publisher. A progressing love story and an unsolved murder on his ranch—A Bloom of Bones is articulate, occasionally heartbreaking, and all the way fascinating.” — William Kittredge, author of A Hole in the Sky and The Willow Field

'Burn'

Jul 24, 2017
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,

Author Casts 'Spells for Victory and Courage'

Jul 19, 2017
Brighthorse Books

The characters in Spells for Victory and Courage, winner of the Brighthorse Prize for Short Fiction, search for love and belonging in all the broken places. A teenage girl takes care of her ex-jockey father. A retired professor befriends the local shepherd. A carnival clown picks a fight with the wrong customer.

"Complexity"

Jul 17, 2017

What didn't work the first time
won't work the tenth. This is true
of everything structured by desire
which continues to beat against walls
as if they can dissolve with repetition.

This is a problem in all relationships
that begin in image and end in dreams
that nag though night with what
never was and could not be.
In between these stages comes touch.

The Battle To Control Nature In National Parks

Jul 12, 2017
Penguin Random House

The fascinating story of a trial that opened a window onto the century-long battle to control nature in the national parks.

When twenty-five-year-old Harry Walker was killed by a bear in Yellowstone Park in 1972, the civil trial prompted by his death became a proxy for bigger questions about American wilderness management that had been boiling for a century. At immediate issue was whether the Park Service should have done more to keep bears away from humans, but what was revealed as the trial unfolded was just how fruitless our efforts to regulate nature in the parks had always been. 

Combining Bone Fishing And Poetry Into Memoir

Jul 5, 2017
Milkweed Editions

Chris Dombrowski was playing a numbers game: two passions — poetry and fly-fishing; one child, with another on the way; and an income hovering perilously close to zero. Enter, at this particularly challenging moment, a miraculous email: Can’t go, it’s all paid for, just book a flight to Miami. Thus began a journey that would lead to the Bahamas and to David Pinder, a legendary bonefishing guide.

During this program, Christine Byl talks about her memoir, Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, which describes her experiences working on trail crews in national parks in Montana and Alaska.

We have been with these bones
for a long time
and we are beginning to feel
a whole lot better now
that these bones are back among the Cheyenne people on their Reservation.

But we are troubled for another reason.
We want to travel on
now that these bones are safely buried.
They have now been properly put to rest.

'Traildog' Tales From Glacier National Park

Jun 29, 2017

During this program, Christine Byl talks about her memoir, Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, which describes her experiences working on trail crews in national parks in Montana and Alaska.

Montana Historical Society Press

Step out of a world governed by clocks and calendars and into the world of the Kootenai and Blackfeet peoples, whose traditional territories included the area that is now Glacier National Park.

Antonya Nelson's 'Funny Once' Is Funny Lots

Jun 21, 2017

The stories in Antonya Nelson's collection Funny Once are clear-eyed, hard-edged, beautifully formed. In the title story, "Funny Once," a couple held together by bad behavior fall into a lie with their more responsible friends. In "The Village," a woman visits her father at a nursing home, recalling his equanimity at her teenage misdeeds and gaining a new understanding of his own past indiscretions.

Really just a small cast iron representation
of the latter, a bottle opener mounted
to the southeast post of the shack's porch,
a Christmas gift from my niece,
and nothing to be stood upon, not even by a bird,
except for the nugget of ice at the end of the snout
that gives it a place. Some think art is lost
on the beasts of field and forest. Not I.
The chainsaw sculpture of an eagle
I fashioned years ago and fastened to a stump,
was sniffed at at length before the coyote

Game Designer Creates 'Rip-Roaring' YA Adventure Novels

Jun 14, 2017
Harper Collins

Ruby is a thief-in-training and a keeper of secrets—ones she doesn't even know herself. A Riddle in Ruby is the first book in a witty and fast-paced fantasy-adventure trilogy for fans of Jonathan Stroud, Septimus Heap, and The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates.

Ruby Teach, daughter of a smuggler and pirate, has been learning how to swindle and steal and pick the most complex locks for as long as she can remember. But a collision with aristocratic young lord Athen sends her spinning into chaos. Little did she know that her whole life has been spent in hiding from nefarious secret societies and the Royal Navy . . . who are both now on her trail.

'Adolescence'

Jun 2, 2017

For the lucky, it’s years spent
spinning the frantic wheel
of a carnival bumper car, lights swirling, the buzzing
and rumbling, sparking
and zapping, intent only on causing the surprising
crash, the ram and counterram,
spun wheel, sudden surge in reverse, the steady stare-down,
head-jerk, one car after
another until you find yourself targeting the bare legs
of the college kid, his back
turned to unstick a clot of stuck cars, bearing down,
full speed now, the humming
in your head now, until 

Pete Fromm Confronts His Tendency To 'Go Feral'

Jun 1, 2017

At twenty years old, Pete Fromm heard of a job babysitting salmon eggs, seven winter months alone in a tent in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Leaping at this chance to be a mountain man, with no experience in the wilds, he left the world. Thirteen years later, he published his beloved memoir of that winter, "Indian Creek Chronicles" —"Into the Wild" with a twist.

'Sound of Sun'

May 29, 2017

I can always ride a beautiful pony
and walk through the pines
as the bell on the horse's noseband rings
in the whisper of wind through trees.

Rich fragrances carry love home
like a bird carries hose hair to its nest.
Words of love build a house of love.
Let feeling go, way out in the heart. Fly in love.

'Magic Fox'

May 22, 2017

They shook the green leaves down,
those men that rattled
in their sleep. Truth became
a nightmare to their fox.
He turned their horses into fish,
or was it horses strung
like fish, or fish like fish
hung naked in the wind?

Stars fell upon their catch.
A girl, not yet twenty-four
but blonde as morning birds, began
a dance that drew the men in
green around her skirts.
In dust her magic jangled memories
of dawn, till fox and grief
turned nightmare in their sleep.

Wyoming author Alexandra Fuller talks about and reads from her third memoir, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness.

About the book:

'Sometimes Odowan'

May 15, 2017
Dragonfly Weather, poems by Lois Red Elk
Lost Horse Press

Sometimes when I sleep,
I hear buffalo coming,
Sometimes when I sleep,
Tatanka sings me songs.
Hey yo hey yaaaaah.

Sometimes when I dream,
I see dragonflies flying.
Sometimes when I dream,
Tusweca sings me songs.
Hey ya hey yaaaah.

Sometimes when I wake,
I feel the earth moving.
Sometimes when I wake,
Maka Unci sings me songs.
Hey ya hey yaaaaah.

Paula McLain Brings Beryl Markum Back To Life

May 10, 2017

Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.

'Spirit'

May 8, 2017
Cover Art: Russell Chatham "Hayfields on the Cottonwood Bench," 2004. Oil, 36" x 48". / Copper Canyon Press

by Jim Harrison

Rumi advised me to keep my spirit
up in the branches of a tree and not peek
out too far, so I keep mine in the very tall
willows along the irrigation ditch out back,
a safe place to remain unspoiled by the filthy
culture of greed and murder of the spirit.
People forget their spirits easily suffocate
so they must keep them far up in tree

Gangsters, Gamblers, Bootleggers, And Wrestlers

May 3, 2017

Late summer, 1921: Disgraced former lightweight champion Pepper Van Dean has spent the past two years on the carnival circuit performing the dangerous “hangman’s drop” and taking on all comers in nightly challenge bouts. But when he and his cardsharp wife, Moira, are marooned in the wilds of Oregon, Pepper accepts an offer to return to the world of wrestling as a trainer for Garfield Taft, a down-and-out African American heavyweight contender in search of a comeback and a shot at the world title.

'I Lost My Job & Wrote This Poem'

May 1, 2017
ClarkCountry.gov

No longer will I swallow hard boiled
instructions. No longer smile at
people I’d like to bite.
Today I am free.
Today I am Mick Jagger’s lips.
Today I am Kerouac’s touchdown in Lowell ’39.
Today I’m Jack Kennedy—ich bin ein unemployed!

There will be time later for assassins.
Today I am Lenin arriving at Finland Station
Napoleon back from Egypt.
Today I am Neville Chamberlain’s peace
Timothy Leary’s PhD
Joplin’s vocal chords
I am used up—but new
and yesterday was my last day of work.

Milk and Filth
cover dsign and image: Evan Lavender-Smith / University of Arizona Press

"All of us gun owners, pro-rights-pro-life, pro-choice…  all of us are being oppressed by this same coterie of rich people. But we’re oppressing each other through hate. And that’s great for that 1%. They’re thrilled when we’re fighting about trifling things because they have all our money now." — Carmen Giménez Smith

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