NICK PAVELICH: A reading by 2019 Big Snowy Fiction Prize winner
CAROLINE PATTERSON & O. ALAN WELTZIEN
ABOUT THE WRITERS & THEIR NEW BOOKS
Caroline Patterson grew up in Missoula, Montana, in the four-square Prairie-style house that was built by her great-grandfather in 1906 after he won a case against the Great Northern Railway. She lives there today with her husband and her two college-aged children. In 2006, she published the anthology Montana Women Writers: A Geography of the Heart, which won a Willa Award. Her work is appearing in upcoming anthologies including Montana Noir (Akashic Books, 2017) and Bright Bones: Innovative Montana Writing (Open Country Press, 2017), and she has published fiction in periodicals including Alaska Quarterly Review, Epoch, Salamander, Southwest Review, and Seventeen. In addition to teaching fiction at the University of Montana, she has received awards including the Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Fiction at Stanford University, Joseph Henry Jackson Prize from the San Francisco Foundation, a Vogelstein Foundation Award, as well as residencies from the Ucross Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is the executive director of the Missoula Writing Collaborative.
Ballet at the Moose Lodge: Stories
by Caroline Patterson
Drumlummon Institute, 2017
Distributed by Riverbend Publishing
“Caroline Patterson’s stories in Ballet at the Moose Lodge explore the depths of love and longing, escape and return, hope and regret in the lives of women and their men in the Western towns she knows so well. Ranging from a forlorn young woman in Seward, Alaska, to yesterday’s schoolmarms in a remote Montana hamlet, her stories express in vivid detail the dreams and nightmares of a wealth of characters. Like mini-novels in the Alice Munro tradition, these stories offer readers insights into the joys, terrors, and confines of small-town lives that matter.”
—Annick Smith, author of Homestead (The World as Home) and Crossing the Plains with Bruno
“Caroline Patterson, with Ballet at the Moose Lodge, gives us stories about broken-hearted on-the-street household disasters and high-country triumphs. Terrific storytelling!”
—William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky: A Memoir and The Willow Field
"Caroline Patterson writes with grace and grit, stories that light up both the real Montana landscape and the imagined. She is a savvy and gleeful interpreter of the lightning-strike epiphanies that comprise our daily lives.”
—Susanna Sonnenberg, author of She Matters: A Life in Friendships
“The calm, wise surfaces of Caroline Patterson’s stories encourage readers to explore the deeper waters without fear and to emerge with something like hope for us all. Her characters are embedded in the West, physically and emotionally, but their struggles are not local, nor is the experience of reading these lovely, original explorations of their lives.”
—Deirdre McNamer, author of Rima in the Weeds and Red Rover
“Certainly these are western stories—swept by Bering Sea winds, crossed by prairie roads, and enshadowed by old larch—but one hesitates to taint them with any hint of regionalism. The emotional breadth of these heart-wrenching yarns is vast, the characters within them fragile yet counter-intuitively rugged and complex. Here are stories that explore the darkest recesses of the soul and will resound in your head like the ring of an ax long after you put this wonderful book aside.”
—Kim Zupan, author of The Ploughmen
“At once heartfelt and unflinching, Caroline Patterson's stories cover the wide world of hurt, hope, and uncertainty she finds in small, specific, often overlooked places, from juke joints to chicken pens, Montana to Alaska. She's as empathic and skillful writer as any publishing today, and her book ought to be read.”
—Beverly Lowry, author of Her Dream of Dreams: The Rise and Triumph of Madam C. J. Walker
O. Alan Weltzien, longtime English professor at the University of Montana Western, has published dozens of articles, two chapbooks, and nine books including a memoir, A Father and an Island (2008), and three poetry collections, most recently Rembrandt in the Stairwell (2016). His most recent publications include 1) Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time (co-editor, Univ. Nebraska Press, 2017), an interdisciplinary collection linking bioregionalism with planetary connections and consciousness; and 2) The Comfort Pathway: Walking and Writing through Death and Grief (FootHills Publishing, 2017), a chapbook essay about the final three weeks of his mother’s life. Weltzien has had two Fulbright Fellowships (Poland, Bulgaria) and one UM International Faculty Exchange Award (Australia). Weltzien still skis in winter and scrambles peaks in summer.
REVIEW: The Comfort Pathway: Walking and Writing Through Death and Grief
By O. Alan Weltzien
“When we write about the dead whom we loved, they come back in some ways and leave lasting traces. They don’t stay as far away,” writes Alan Weltzien in the forward to this “chapbook essay” about his mother’s last weeks of life. When his mother has a stroke, Weltzien joins his brothers at the ICU unit of a high-tech hospital. As his mother slides further away, the family must execute her advanced directive, dubbed “The Comfort Pathway.”
“I know we’re on a helluva ride down somewhere with a dead end (pun intended),” he writes. “It’s simple: no interventions, keep the patient pain-free. But this pathway in no way lessens our writhing.” Without being maudlin, Weltzien’s words convey the pathos and pain he feels while staying by his dying mother. He is unsparing in the family dynamics of the deathwatch – always a turbulent experience.
The author is a long-time English professor at the University of Montana Western, and the author of nine books and another chapbook. – LK Willis
(From: The State of the Arts, Montana Arts Council, Winter 2018).
Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time
Edited by Tom Lynch, Susan Naramore Maher, Drucilla Wall, and O. Alan Weltzien
University of Nebraska Press, 2017
In response to the growing scale and complexity of environmental threats, this volume collects articles, essays, personal narratives, and poems by more than forty authors in conversation about “thinking continental”—connecting local and personal landscapes to universal systems and processes—to articulate the concept of a global or planetary citizenship.
Reckoning with the larger matrix of biome, region, continent, hemisphere, ocean, and planet has become necessary as environmental challenges require the insights not only of scientists but also of poets, humanists, and social scientists. Thinking Continental braids together abstract approaches with strands of more-personal narrative and poetry, showing how our imaginations can encompass the planetary while also being true to our own concrete life experiences in the here and now.
“This is exactly the kind of book that helps us to understand where and who we are, what it means to be ‘emplaced’ on this planet.” —Scott Slovic
“With the help of literature, these essays and poems lead us from personal particulars to our shared planet, and in so doing, they nourish our filamentary imaginations.” —SueEllen Campbell