a newsletter of the Montana Library Association
[December 2021 Vol. 40 Issue 6]
- IN THIS ISSUE -
President’s Message - Hear from MLA President Kit Stephenson
Executive Director's Message - Hear from Executive Director Kirk Vriesman
Editor’s Message - Goodbye 2021
Update from Public Library Division- Virtual Poster Session- Making Library Lemonade out of Life's Many Lemons
Gift suggestions for the hard-to-shop-for person in your life
Montana Historical Society makes hundreds of oral histories accessible online
Mansfield Library at University of Montana installs compact shelving, awaits new building partners
Crow language books at Billings Public Library
Jo Flick's retirement
Programs, Promotions & Projects
New! Interview Corner
Seeds at the Mansfield Library
One Book One Bozeman 2022 Title Announced
Amazon Smile Donations
Submissions open for February issue of FOCUS
- MLA PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE -
Kit Stephenson's Update
Hello and Happy Winter! Even though it really doesn’t feel like it now, I know it’s coming. So, I like to think happy, cold thoughts throughout the season. My friend, Craig Childs (author extraordinaire), does a solstice theatre show every year called the Dark Night. He tells tales of adventure and brings musicians, poets and dancers to the stage. I was able to attend when I lived in Colorado, and it sustained my energy throughout the winter. Suffice it to say, art is a bright light. I hope there are festive creations in your area to celebrate the Dark Night.
In other news, here are some updates for the Montana Library Association.
The MLA/MPLA/PNLA tri-conference committee is ruminating on the theme for our August 2022 event.
Keep an eye out for an announcement on proposal submissions for the tri-conference on WIRED – coming soon!
Also, keep an eye on WIRED for some goal ideas for our upcoming strategic plan.
We will have our winter Board meeting at the end of January, 2022. Exact date, TBA. I hope many of you can attend. It would be nice to say “hi.”
Fall Retreat/Offline committee is announcing the Poster Sessions in this newsletter. I think this is going to be great and we are hoping for a lot of interaction.
The Government Affairs committee is looking for a new co-chair. Please let me or Kirk Vriesman know if you are interested.
Lastly, in light of recent news, the Executive Board of MLA would like to offer our support to the staff of ImagineIF Libraries. We understand that this is a difficult time and are working on a letter of support in conjunction with the State Library and the MLA Committee of Intellectual Freedom.
Assistant Director, Bozeman Public Library
photo credit: Russ Chapman, Kit's husband
[ Kit Stephenson can be reached at Kstephenson@bozeman.net ]
- What is the President Reading? -
I'm reading Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper and The Cold Millions by Jess Walter. I also regularly read The New Yorker, which I access through Montana Library 2 Go. I also loved watching Ted Lasso, but that's old news at this point.
Assistant Director, Bozeman Public Library
photo credit: Universal Television
- EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE -
From Executive Director Kirk Vriesman
Montana Library Association Members & Friends –
As this year comes to a close, I’d like to share my excitement about next year’s unique library association conference – now only 8 months away. The 2022 Tri-Conference takes place August 3-6 in Missoula and includes members from the Pacific Northwest Library Association (PNLA), the Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA), and our own Montana Library Association (MLA). In total, there will be library professionals attending from 16 states and 2 Canadian provinces! Stay tuned for additional conference details coming soon, including an announcement of our conference theme and a call for session proposals from MLA President Kit Stephenson.
In support of libraries and librarians that have had recent complaints about appropriateness of material within their collections, the Montana Library Association has posted a “Report Censorship” logo and link on the MLA website homepage. Anyone wishing to report a censorship attempt can use the link to connect to the American Library Association’s Challenge Support webpage. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom can provide confidential support during censorship challenges to any library’s materials, services, and programs.
Along with the MLA community, I was saddened to hear the recent news of Stephen Haddad’s diagnosis with cancer. Stephen served as the association’s webmaster until September and was largely responsible for the transition from the old website to the new. I shared an office with Stephen when we worked at Missoula Public Library and a more personable, dedicated, and joyful librarian would be difficult to find. Currently undergoing treatment, the entirety of the MLA community hopes for Stephen’s recovery. If you’d like to donate to the Haddad family’s GoFundMe campaign visit https://gofund.me/f7ab0bde
There’s a new and interesting benefit of being an MLA member – having an email address with the mtlib.org domain name. Thanks to the savvy of Matt Beckstrom at Lewis and Clark Library, email addresses such as email@example.com are available by filling out a brief form on the MLA website. Check under the Resources tab at www.mtlib.org to begin the process of requesting your personalized MLA email address.
Thank you to the many members who recently renewed their MLA memberships! If you haven’t yet renewed your membership for 2021-22, please consider renewing today! If you haven’t paid dues for the current fiscal year, your MLA membership lapsed on September 30. Keep your professional association strong and show support for Montana libraries by renewing your membership at mtlib.org/join-us. If you’re a library staff member, trustee, foundation or friends member, student, or library supporter and not already a member of MLA, please consider joining our association! MLA advocates for intellectual freedom, lobbies our state legislature, and provides education and support for librarians throughout Montana.
Serving MLA members, now and beyond,
Kirk Vriesman, Executive Director
Montana Library Association, Inc.
[ Kirk Vriesman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]
- EDITOR'S MESSAGE -
Hello, 2022! Around this time of year I, like so many others, start thinking about my year in review. I rarely even consider December a part of my reflections, since it always tends to be a blur! Already, only a few short days in December, I feel behind on my end of year planning both personally and professionally. Will I send out holiday cards? (Probably not.) Will I meet my self-imposed goals at work? (I'll do my best.) Do I have time to bake something? (At the sacrifice of sleep.) What are the ramifications if XY & Z don't happen how I planned? (And how can I soften the blow?)
This year I am trying something different, and just meeting myself where I am- a philosophy I often apply to interacting with others but rarely to my self. I am recognizing that where I was in January 2021 is a different place than in December 2021, and the journey it took to get here deserves applause, without judgement or shame. I am always striving to do good and improve myself, but at the same time, allowing permission to just be. As always, I come back to Brene Brown:
"You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness."
Enjoy the end of your year, Montana library community- I'll be focusing on being present more than wrapping presents.
Co-Editor MLA Focus
photo credit: Getty Images
[Corey Sloan can be reached at email@example.com ]
- Update from Public Library Division -
Virtual Poster Conference: Making Library Lemonade out of Life's Many Lemons
MLA Virtual Poster Session – January 10-14, 2022
In lieu of the in-person Fall Retreat and in-person Offline, MLA is hosting a Virtual Poster Session entitled “Making Library Lemonade out of Life’s Many Lemons”
We hope you’ll log on to mtlib.org throughout the week of January 10, 2022 to read through the submitted posters and contact the presenters with any questions or feedback. They’ll be “on call” throughout during normal business/working hours. These presentations will be available on the MLA website indefinitely.
Submitted posters and presenters:
American Rescue Plan Act: Investments in Montana Library Services – Cara Orban
Academic Libraries & DEI – Anne Kish
Mission Possible: Virtual Outreach in a Pandemic – Star Bradley and Lissa Fields
Using Google Voice to Contact Library Patrons – Stacey Moore
Using One Call to Contact Library Patrons – Sarah Creech
Whatever Mitch Grady Submits – Mitch Grady
Reach out to the planners of this amazing series if you have any questions! More details and poster/presentation descriptions will be sent through WIRED closer to January 10.
Planners include: Sydnie Tallman (Sydnie.firstname.lastname@example.org), Mitch Grady (email@example.com), Sarah Creech (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Submitted by Sarah Creech
photo above: credit Arianka Ibarra
- MICRO-REVIEWS -
Gift suggestions for the hard-to-shop-for person in your life
It’s that time of year again when Black Friday dominates advertisements, teachers and librarians are ready for a slight reprieve from students and patrons, and, if you’re like me, holiday shopping needs to start. (If you are one of those well-organized “shop-before-the-craziness-starts” type of people, I salute you. If you are not, read on.) To help you with your holiday shopping, consider some of these fine treasures. Not all will be to your liking, but I’m willing to bet that there is something here for you, your uncle, brother, daughter, spouse—or any other person you shop for—who will appreciate this splendor in their Christmas stocking.
Let’s begin our treasure hunting with Uncle Publications (@unclepublicat1). This press has something for every reader, and they don’t care about the rules. If you’re in the mood for a strange, horror-filled reading experience, look no further than Ronin Heck’s (@HeckRonin) CROWMOUTH. Simply put: this novel haunts me! If horror is not your jam, pivot to PULP MODERN, a collection of short stories that has a bit of noir, science fiction, sword and sorcery, mystery, and suspense. In some regards, this collection of stories caused me to feel nostalgic for the old paperback books I would save to buy when given my weekly allowance as a kid. This book pairs nicely with THE DRIFTER DETECTIVE, another noir that combines the western genre with mystery and provides the reader with a thrilling read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Round it all off with a poignant collection of poetry from Verna Hampton, SISTER FM DIVA: POETRY INNA MI YAHD. In poems that range in topics from love and life to what it means to have a name and be seen, Hampton challenges the reader to look beyond the misconceptions and easy narratives, to reach out and extend your hand to the unknown, regardless of comfort level, to allow yourself to be vulnerable, to look and think and act toward others the way you want others to look and think and act toward you.
If these fine treasures don’t bang your drum, and you need something for the sport fanatic, look no further than Hamilcar Publications (@HamilcarPubs). It would be easy to dismiss these books as nothing more than boxing stories. And should you do this, you would miss out on top-shelf storytelling from some of the best sportswriters putting pen to paper, er, fingers to keyboards. They have an incredible line of micro-biographies that blend life stories, true crime, social commentary, and, yes, boxing, in tightly controlled packages that beg to be read in one sitting. But if you want to have a longer, drawn out affair that lasts more than one round, get a copy of Don Stradley’s (@DonStradley) THE WAR: HAGLER-HEARNS AND THREE ROUNDS FOR THE AGES. This book will show you what happens when two men decide to go to war against each other. One more from our friends at Hamilcar shows a more sobering side of the sweet science. In DAMAGE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BRAIN TRAUMA IN BOXING by Tris Dixon (@TrisDixon) brings to light what the NFL has been (or not!) addressing and that is what happens to the human brain when it is subjected to blow after blow. This book begs that all fans of boxing hold up the mirror and ask the hard questions about the sport and how these traumas live on in these athletes far longer than the last bell.
For the nonfiction fan that likes to explore the history of books, I offer three outstanding resources from PM Press (@PMPressOrg) edited by Andrew Nette (Pulpcurry) and Ian McIntyre. Each of these titles are filled with essays from experts and insiders about the subject they highlight. In STICKING IT TO THE MAN: REVOLUTION AND COUNTERCULTURE IN PULP AND POPULAR FICTION, 1950 TO 1980 twenty-six essays explore civil rights, Black Power, New Left, gay liberation, feminism, anticolonial struggles, antiwar agitation, politics and so much more in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia through the books produced in crime fiction, thrillers, erotica, and other paperback genres. The amount of meandering pathways to explore in this one book alone provides years of reading pleasure. This books pairs nicely with GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS: PULP FICTION AND YOUTH CULTURE, 1950 to 1980. As with the previous title, this book is a compilation of essays that explore “how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in mass-market pulp fiction” through fashion, language, behavior, music and culture. The final title in this trilogy of awesomeness is DANGEROUS VISIONS AND NEW WORLDS: RADICAL SCIENCE FICTION, 1950-1985. As a self-proclaimed nerd, this was my favorite of the three. Again, Nette and McIntyre compile a plethora of writers (22 of them!) that dig deeply into the social, cultural, and political movements showcased in science fiction from 1950 to 1985. Themes of mass media culture, the Vietnam War, state surveillance, corporate control and so much more provide for a wild and insightful reading journey. Additionally, this book also features new perspectives on key novels and authors—such as Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Samuel Delany, and J.G. Ballard, to name a few. Filled with beautiful, color photographs of book covers and detailed indexes, these books are a perfect resource for the book lover and academic libraries.
Moving away from what the aforementioned presses can offer, let’s take a look at some titles you won’t want to overlook. Fans of the short-lived series Quantum Leap will love KR Paul’s (@AuthorKRPaul) books PANTHEON (published by @ForcePoseidon) and PANTHEON 2: ARES & ATHENA. These books are whiz-bangers. What if specialized military personal had the power to move forces and supplies to combat zones by picturing the locale they need to be? How would this be advantageous to our military, and what are the ramifications of yielding this type of power? Paul creates a world that answers these questions while bringing the reader on a thrill-ride. Keeping to this vein of science fiction, Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, wife and husband writing duo (@GearBooks), imagine post-apocalyptic worlds in their books DISSOLUTION: THE WYOMING CHRONICLES: BOOK ONE (uh oh, a cyber-attack) and FRACTURE EVENT (yeah, climate change is real) (both published by @WolfpackPub). After a great science fiction read, for me, a horror story is the next best thing. You could do a lot worse than allowing your eyes to feast upon THE LAST NIGHT IN THE DAMNED HOUSE AND OTHER GHOST STORIES by Elford Alley (@ElfordAlley), A.A. Balaskovits’s (@AABalaskovits) STRANGE FOLK YOU’LL NEVER MEET (published by @SFWP), and Eric J. Guinard’s (ericjgnard) PROFESSOR CHARLATAN BARDOT’S TRAVEL ANTHOLOGY TO THE MOST (FICTIONAL) HAUNTED BUILDINGS IN THE WEIRD, WILD WORLD (published by @DarkMoonBooks). Each of these books is a shiver-inducing collection of tales and stories that encourage you to keep the lights on.
Don’t forget the western and thriller fan in your household. For a literary thriller, look no further than C. Matthew Smith’s (@cmattwrite) TWENTY MILE. The quality of this debut novel is what every new writer yearns to accomplish. Rich language, fully realized characters, and set pieces that make you want to get out a map to plan your next trip, this book has it all. PSYCHROS (published by @Clashbooks) by Charlene Elsby (@ElsbyCharlene) is a cerebral thriller that will have you questioning what you just read—in all the right ways. Warning: this book is for mature readers. But if you want to get away from straight-up thrillers, take a peek at Michael R. Ritt’s (@MRRittAuthor) THE SONS OF PHILO GAINES. This book harkens back to the westerns of Louis L’Amour a la The Sacketts but is its own unique addition to the family saga sub-genre. A title not to be missed by this Montana author. CASH LARAMIE AND THE SUNDOWN EXPRESS (published by @BEAT_to_a_PULP) by Edward A. Grainger and Scott Dennis Parker (@sdparker7) rounds out this section of recommendations. A fast-paced western that mixes the tenets of the western novel with steampunk craziness—yeah, you read that right.
All the books mentioned above are wonderful reads. But these next four are some of my favorite reads of the past few months. BLOOD AND GOLD: THE LEGEND OF JOAQUIN MURRIETA by Jeffrey J. Mariotte (@JeffMariotte) and Peter Murrieta is a contemporary epic. Sweeping in scope, full of adventure and thrills and drama, this book is the type of tome you lose yourself in. Bottom line: this is a quintessential novel of good versus evil. Six Gun Justice podcast is a favorite of mine to listen to while punishing myself on the treadmill. When I found out they published a collection of western stories, I was sold that it needed to be part of my personal collection. WESTERN STORIES is a great mix of the motifs and themes regularly celebrated in western novels but with enough unique storytelling techniques to make it a welcome addition to the genre. Some of you may recall that I love reading poetry. And I really enjoy reading poetry that stretches my imagination. OBLIVION IN FLUX: A COLLECTION OF CYBER PROSE, published by Crystal Lake Publishing (@Crystallakepub), by Maxwell I. Gold, does this over and over again. With over 50 poems in this volume, you’ll discover artifacts and forgotten places, ruins and dark secrets. Finally, a lost classic. GENTLEMAN OVERBOARD, published by Boiler House Press, by Herbert Clyde Lewis is a tale of a man that falls overboard while taking a cruise. The prose is some of the finest I’ve read, and the narrative adds a sense of uneasiness as we, the reader, know the outcome for this man trapped in the isolation of the expanse of the sea will not be a happy one. It is a perfect blend of Wodehouse meets Sartre.
There you have it, my friends. Plenty of treasures to buy for your family and friends. And for yourself, too. Until the next installment, I wish you all a happy holiday season and prosperous 2022. Happy reading!
Submitted by Gavin Woltjer
photo credit: Kelsie Rubich unless otherwise noted, top center: Hamilcar Publications
- ARTICLES -
Montana Historical Society makes hundreds of oral histories accessible online
The Montana Historical Society is happy to announce the completion of Voices of Labor: Preserving the Montanans at Work, Metals Manufacturing in Four Montana Communities, and New Deal in Montana Oral History Interviews Project. This project was made possible from the Council on Library and Information Resources Recordings at Risk program, which supports the preservation of rare and unique audio, audiovisual, and other time-based media of high scholarly value through digital reformatting. With a generous grant of $32,118, the Montana Historical Society was able to transfer 604 interviews, totaling 1,106 analog tapes to a digital format. The audio files, along with transcripts and summaries are now available online through the Montana Memory Project.
As the name implies, the three oral history projects included in the grant focus on different industries and those involved in them The Montanans at Work Oral History Project specifically focuses on change and continuity in three main industries in Montana: agriculture, mining, and forest products. The interviews captured the stories of laborers, labor leadership, and support industry workers, from the expansion in extractive economy jobs during World War II to the decline of those industries in the 1980s. The Metals Manufacturing in Four Montana Communities Oral History Project concentrates on residents of Anaconda, Black Eagle, Columbia Falls, and East Helena who share their experiences as merchants, bartenders, union organizers, and families of smelter workers living in towns dominated by metals manufacturing plants. The New Deal in Montana/Fort Peck Dam Oral History Project documented the economic recovery programs initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1930s – 1940s Montana, such as the construction of Fort Peck Dam under the Public Works Administration, as well as efforts by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Resettlement Administration.
Originally slated as a two-your project and scheduled for finalization in the fall of 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic delayed its completion, and work began again in earnest the spring of 2021 for another fall deadline. The staff of the Montana Historical Society Research Center archives and library dedicated hundreds of hours to digitize and uploading the voices of labor past. MHS hopes all Montanans will enjoy listening to these interviews and takes pride in knowing they are now available to a much wider audience. “As much as we’d love to be able to digitize our entire oral history collection, projects like this could not be completed without the assistance of archival audio and moving image preservation companies. These companies do excellent work but can be very costly.” commented MHS Archivist/Oral Historian Anneliese Warhank, who oversaw the project.
Submitted by Laura Tretter
Mansfield Library at University of Montana Installs Compact Shelving, Awaits New Building Partners
The Mansfield Library began the process of opening their floors up to three new building partners from on and off the University of Montana campus. The Writing and Public Speaking Center, Testing Services, and the Defense Critical Language and Culture Program (DCLCP) will move into the Mansfield Library starting 2022. The Library is excited to have these new partners in the building, and during 2021 began making room for them.
To accommodate the DCLCP on Level 4 of the Library, all of the Level 4 items must move to Level 1. As the regional federal depository, the Mansfield Library’s bottom floor of the Library, Level 1, is full of government documents. Library staff moved quickly to clear parts of Level 1 in order to make way for new compact shelving installed over the summer and fall semesters. This compact shelving will allow library employees to clear level 4 and move all of its items to Level 1.
Testing Services will move to Level 1. Work has begun to accommodate them by the start of spring semester. The Writing and Public Speaking Center was here during the fall semester and will continue their stay through the academic year, with slight revisions to their space on the main floor underway currently.
In the coming months, the library is excited to work alongside these new partners to bring more resources and interdisciplinary collaborations to campus. The amount of work library employees completed during 2021 to make these partnerships possible is inspiring, and inspires our work for this coming year!
Submitted by Xavier Kneedler-Shorten
Crow Language Books at Billings Public Library
This September, the Billings Public Library was given 18 picture books for children written in the Crow Language by The Language Conservancy and The Crow Language Consortium.
Making these resources available for checkout also involved a lot of work behind the scenes by library Technical Processing staff where they cataloged and outfitted each item with identifying labels, stamps and barcodes.
When an item is cataloged, there are usually existing records created by other catalogers or vendors that allow for the practice of copy cataloging or the reuse and customization of previously created item records. But what happens when there are no existing records to refer to? A cataloger must then create an entirely new record from scratch.
This the situation Billings Public Library cataloger, Dave Shearer, found himself in while adding these Crow language picture books to the collection. All of the items had to be originally cataloged and due to the extremely small number of items in the Crow language in OCLC (the worldwide database of bibliographic records), Dave also referenced existing records for books written in Ojibwe and Cree languages in the creation of his records.
It was a challenging task for the experienced cataloger who said, “It’s good that we have books in native languages in our collection. In the state of Montana, there aren’t many and most Native American tribes are underrepresented in the catalog other than through historical references.”
When asked about the importance of his work on the project Dave stated, “Tribes are trying to preserve their native languages and many are dying because they aren’t spoken anymore. If I can help preserve them, that’s a good thing.”
Adding these items to the library collection not only facilitates the addition of diverse voices and perspectives and plays a role in the preservation of an endangered language; it also makes it easier for other libraries in Montana (and beyond) to add these Crow language titles to their own collections by copy cataloging these newly created records.
Many thanks to the Crow Language Consortium and The Language Conservancy for this wonderful addition to our collection and to Dave Shearer, Courtney L. and Liz F. in the BPL Technical Processing department for their work making these books available to all!
Submitted by Kelsie Rubich
photo credit Kelsie Rubich
Jo Flick's Retirement
I've had a lot of fun jobs: historic house museum curator, public TV producer/reporter, Arts-in-Education and summer arts camp director, I even got to go to Cannes for an international educational video conference in my last job, but none can beat the fun of planning training for Montana's librarians. The Census Champions group was so great to work with last year and we had some terrific fun at Cates and at Fall Workshops. This isn't a job that is easy to leave, to be honest... you are a very, very special group of professionals.
- PROGRAMS, PROMOTIONS, PROJECTS -
New! Interview Corner
Welcome to the Interview Corner! This section of the newsletter aims to bring awareness to authors that are either new, producing interesting works, not mainstream, or a combination of these variables. This month we focus our attention on Anthony Neil Smith. Smith is a mystery/crime fiction writer who has had over thirty of his short stories published in literary magazines and crime writing zines, and has also published numerous novels. He is co-creator of the well-received online noir journal Plots with Guns. He was also an associate editor with the highly regarded literary magazine Mississippi Review, having put together several special issues featuring crime fiction for the online edition. He is a Professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN. I had a chance to ask Smith a few questions via email.
[author photo courtesy of the author]
**Content Warning: Violence, Language**
1. Tell us about yourself.
Let's see. I write crime novels and stories, some transgressive, some just nasty. I'm originally from Mississippi, but have spent the last sixteen years in Minnesota, where I'm an English prof at SMSU. I'm fat. I like Mexican food, Italian exploitation flicks, and cheap red wine. I once edited an online crime zine called PLOTS WITH GUNS. I now live with my wife and two-and-three-fourths cats out on the prairie.
I'm a cult author with a very small cult, but that's okay. I'm not very good at recruiting.
2. What books inspired you to tell you own noir tales?
In general, Hardy Boys books started it all for me, but the serious stuff began with the Three Investigators series. I could relate to those middle-class guys a lot better than the Hardys with their speedboats and hot rods. At some point I got a Coleco Quiz Whiz for Christmas, and it had a detective and mystery trivia module with it. I learned a lot about classic crime writing from that before I ever moved on to try the adult books. I was given a lot of leeway as a kid to read what I wanted, except if it seemed a bit racy. Mom wouldn't let me buy a Perry Mason called THE CASE OF THE VAGABOND VIRGIN because of the word "virgin." I didn't know what it meant yet, but since I couldn't get the book over it, I went and found out pretty quick. They also didn't want me to read an old Ian Fleming James Bond novel my grandma had around her house. So, again, I knew it must be really good.
Then after spinning off into sci-fi reading, comics, guitar playing, and etc., I ended up coming back to crime fiction via a flash flood of sudden "Wow!" Like, I discovered James Lee Burke because I had wanted to write a cajun detective. Then I just so happened to pick up James Ellroy's WHITE JAZZ in a bookstore when I was in college, and I didn't realize mysteries could experiment with language like that. I read everything Ellroy wrote. Then I saw PULP FICTION by myself one afternoon, and let the theater speechless and inspired. From there, Walter Mosley's incredible BLACK BETTY, Geroge Pelecanos' THE BIG BLOWDOWN and KING SUCKERMAN, anything by Vintage Black Lizard. So with all that inmy head now, I decided to stop looking for a high school teaching job and go to grad school for creative writing instead.
3. Your take on noir fiction is not mainstream. Tell us about your approach to the genre and why you think this approach adds to the noir canon.
I think I was a pretty typical guy, maybe with more anxiety and fears than other kids my age, but still typical. But pure detective and mystery stuff never felt enough. I tried to emulate what I saw in ALfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and ended up with a crime story that was 1) more supernatural horror, and 2) gory as fuck.
I would say Ellroy and Mosley led me to more explicit stuff, and what I call "gonzo noir," a tip o' the hat to Hunter Thompson. James Crumley, Chester Himes, Jim Thompson, James Cain, James Lee Burke (if your name was Jim and you were a crime writer, I was probably influenced by you), Charles Willeford, Harry Crews - these guys were batshit crazy. And that led to discovering Vicki Hendricks, who I reached out to in the early days of the internet, and we became friends. I think it was her, Lauren Henderson, Christa Faust, and Katy Munger who made me want to write more about sex, so I blended all that together into some Flannery O'Connor-style grotesque. She's the one who said, "[Y]ou have to make your vision apparent by shock -- to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures."
I like large and startling stories. I want to watch the horror of how people treat each other and learn from it. I want to laugh at the darkness, because if you don't, goddamn, that's pretty grim of you.
I want to write stories that I would love to read. And above all, I do not want to be bored.
4. What books are on your bedside table right now? Why these ones?
I read on my Kindle at night. It's more comfortable, and I read books faster on it. I went back and read Larry Brown's FATHER AND SON since I didn't finish it the first time. I've been reading some southern "gothic", I suppose, in Bonnie Jo Campbell's MOTHERS, TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS, Mark Westmoreland's A VIOLENT GOSPEL, and I just started Willy Vlautin's THE FREE last night. I mean, I'm all over the place, though. The week before that, I was reading a lot of UK noir, and before that, some Stephen Mack Jones and Fuminori Nakamura, and for the fiction class I'm teaching, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novellas and Louise Erdrich's FUTURE HOME OF THE LIVING GOD.
Why? The Southern stuff was due to discovering a Spanish publisher called Dirty Works that translates Southern "grit lit" and puts out these gorgeous editions. That made me go reread favorites and discover new voices. I hope when I grow up, I will write something good enough for them to translate one day. The others? I'm restless and constantly looking for something new to inspire me.
5. What are you working on or plan to work on next?
I turned in the second SLOW BEAR novella (I plan on a trilogy) and have been told it's on the schedule for early Spring of 2022. I've loved working with Fahrenheit 13 on my last three books now. They are seriously cool and punk and they won't publish you unless they believe in what you're doing. I feel lucky.
But after that, I have another novel, something a little off-kilter (and that's me saying that), with a young indie publisher that I CAN'T REVEAL YET EVEN THOUGH I THINK PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY FIGURED IT OUT. I pretty much wrote a book inspired by the question "What if Gabby Gifford - the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head and survived - had been a corrupt bastard state trooper instead?"
And I'm also working a novel about a K-9 cop handler who got drunk, beat up his dog, but was arrested before he could hurt her more. In the book, he loses his job, loses the dog (obviously), loses his wife, and truly hates what he's done. There's more to it, but that's the jumping off point. Nearly everyone I know - former agent, former publisher, writer friends, my wife - have told me to not write this novel because no one gives a shit about this dude. But as much of an animal lover as I am, there's still something about this guy that makes me want to watch his story unfold. I dunno. I guess when it comes to my characters, I have a thing for assholes.
Submitted by Gavin Woltjer
Seeds at the Mansfield Library
In an effort to increase local seed security and sovereignty, the Mansfield Library launched a seed library in February of 2021 and has since seen several updates, including a re-organizing of the seeds based on plant families, and the addition of colorful labels and graphics to aid in easier seed finding. This system of organization is based on the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, which is both a wonderful seed library and an invaluable resource for those starting seed libraries in their communities.
In September 2021, the seed library began to accept donations, receiving several donations from community members, library employees, and local groups. We continue to partner with the Five Valleys Seed Library, which has recently moved into the new Missoula Public Library. This partnership presented a library employee with the opportunity to collect and process medicinal herb seeds with the Green Path Herb School, diversifying our seed collection and giving community members the opportunity to grow their own medicines. In addition to this effort to incorporate more medicinal plant seeds, we have been receiving more native plant seeds and flower seeds than we did last year, which will hopefully provide Missoula gardeners with even more opportunities to grow and save the seeds that best fit their needs. With the support of community partners and gardeners, the Mansfield Library Seed Library strives to build a more biodiverse, locally adapted, and free seed stock by putting seeds back into the hands of the people.
Submitted by Xavier Kneedler-Shorten
One Book One Bozeman 2022 Title Announced
Bozeman Public Library is excited to announce 2022’s selected title for its’ annual One Book One Bozeman program. The Cold Millions, by award winning author Jess Walter has been selected for this year’s program. This annual event promotes literacy, community, and unity through the shared experience of reading a communal book. New from previous years, the celebration of reading will extend throughout 2022, with programs based on theme offered year-round, multiple opportunities to discuss the book, and more.
Each year, a committee selects a book title for a month-long celebration of literature, including author events and book discussions. This year, that celebration extends to include all of 2022. Based on the success of last year’s socially distanced programs, the Library is again encouraging individuals to read the book, introduce it to their book groups, neighbors, friends, and family, and participate in virtual options. An extensive guide to enhance the experience of The Cold Millions will be available in February 2022 on the One Book One Bozeman website, www.bozemanlibrary.org/obob. More information about the book and the author is also available on that site.
Jess Walter is the author of seven novels, one book of short stories and one nonfiction book. His work has been translated into 32 languages, and his fiction has been selected three times for Best American Short Stories as well as the Pushcart Prize and Best American Nonrequired Reading. Walter began his writing career in 1987 as a reporter for his hometown newspaper, The Spokesman-Review. He was a finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize as part of a team covering the shootout and standoff at Ruby Ridge, in Northern Idaho. This became the subject of Walter's first book, Every Knee Shall Bow, in 1995. He has also worked as a screenwriter and has taught graduate creative writing at the University of Iowa, Pacific University, Eastern Washington and Pacific Lutheran.
“One of the things I really like about this book is that he writes place really well” Corey Sloan, Department Head of Adult Programming and Outreach at Bozeman Public Library, said of Jess Walter. “The place is like a character of its’ own in this book… Spokane and Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho and Western Montana. We think people can really appreciate the details and descriptors of these places a hundred years ago. Jess Walter really brings life to them.”
Funding for One Book One Bozeman is provided by the Bozeman Public Library Foundation and Friends of the Bozeman Public Library. One Book One Bozeman programs and materials will be prominently featured at Bozeman Public Library throughout the year, and is free to the community.
The Bozeman Public Library creates opportunities than inspire curiosity, exploration, and connection.
Submitted by Corey Sloan
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Montana Library FOCUS
The FOCUS is an official publication of the Montana Library Association (MLA), and is published in collaboration with the members which it serves. You can look for new issues six times a year: in February, April, June, August, October, and December. With an online readership of over 500, the newsletter works to reflect, inspire, and give voice to the vibrant communities that exist in and around Montana’s libraries.
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