I'd never been to Missoula and I gotta say, I love it. Beautiful river, a downtown with many of the old buildings still in use, public art, plus good coffee, cookies, ice cream and other cool stuff. Oh yeah, plenty of literature happening too.
Super impressed with the authors and panels I've attended so far. Fist day session with authors
Heather Hansman and Susan Purvis at Fact and Fiction Books, a literary treasure trove and ground central for the four-day Book Festival.
Heather is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Outside, California Sunday, Smithsonian, and many others. Her first book, DOWNRIVER came out in 2019. Her book is an account of her 730-mile solo raft trip down the Green River (the largest tributary to the Colorado) and an exploration of the complexities and future of water in the too-often arid west. Hearing her talk of water rights, water wars and such was both triggering for this former California State Water Resources Control Board Executive Director (meaning me) and a reminder of how vital and little understood these issues are.
Susan is the author of Go Find: My Journey to Find the Lost--And Myself. The memoir recounts Susan's uphill journey to train an avalanche rescue dog - her beloved black lab Tasha - and become the first female team in a male-dominated search and rescue community. The human/canine duo launched dozens of missions to rescue the missing or recover the remains of victims of nature and crime. As is the case with all resonant memoirs, the journey also involves the author finding her true passion.
I was pleased to support these two authors and Fact & Fiction by purchasing their books.
This panel featured editor Shelly Oria, with several acclaimed and award-winning writers from Missoula. Each panelist read an excerpt from INDELIBLE IN THE HIPPOCAMPUS and something of their own. The readings, from the book and from the local authors were mesmerizing, and now indelibly stamped on my hippocampus. Seriously, really good writing.
Sharma Shields read an essay of hers that was published in the New York Times. A-mazing and powerful. Recounting a life-changing assault when she was 15 - sadly, an all-to-familiar scenario. Her latest, The Cassandra, is one I want to read.
Melissa Stephenson, an author of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, read a stark poem from the anthology as well as a killer essay of her own. A widely published author, her new memoir - Driven - has also been added to my growing to-be-read list.
Tamara Love read a moving poem from the anthology as well as a portion of what promises to be a stunning essay about her grandmother.
Last, but not least, Caroline Keys, author and musician extraordinaire, who has shared the stage with the likes of Dwight Yoakum, The Decembrists and The Lumineers, sang several songs while accompanying herself on guitar and banjo - not, I might add, simultaneously. I hadn't heard her before - Caroline voice is haunting and unique, her personality engaging and endearing. I could have listened to lots more.
The venue, the fusty old, popcorn and beer smelling VFW hall, in a narrow room back behind the bar, was packed, and dark - hence no photos. In lieu of something from the event, here's a u-tube recording of one of Caroline's songs.
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Dorothy, author of GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK, blogs about the challenges and opportunities of being a woman and a writer of a certain age in a youth-centric universe.