The back room of any bookstore is always exciting, as boxes arrive and reveal the many wonders within. This time of year, there are new releases by favorite authors, whimsical books, paperback editions of popular titles and beautiful gift books.
New titles in a wide variety of topics and for all ages include:
“Let Him Go: A Novel” by Larry Watson
The author of “Montana 1948” returns to the American West in this riveting tale of familial love and its unexpected consequences.
Dalton, N.D. It’s September 1951 – years since George and Margaret Blackledge lost their son James when he was thrown from a horse; months since his widow Lorna took off with their only grandson and married Donnie Weboy. Margaret is steadfast, resolved to find and retrieve her grandson Jimmy – the one person in this world keeping James’ memory alive – while George, a retired sheriff, is none too eager to stir up trouble.
Unable to sway his wife from her mission, George takes to the road with Margaret by his side, traveling through the Dakota badlands to Gladstone, Mont. When Margaret tries to convince Lorna to return home to North Dakota and bring little Jimmy with her, the Blackledges find themselves entangled with the entire Weboy clan, who are determined not to give up the boy without a fight.
“Montana Beer: A Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country” by Ryan Newhouse
The long-awaited debut of Montana’s first official brewery guidebook is here! Montana Beer Finder is pleased to announce that its founder and principal beer spotter, Ryan Newhouse, has written “Montana Beer: A Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country,” with a foreword by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.
In this book, Newhouse details the startup stories and current production of each of Montana’s craft breweries. Given that our state is in the top three in the country for beer consumption and breweries per capita, and we are No. 1 for barley production, it was high time we had our own craft beer guidebook.
Montana’s brewing history stretches back more than 150 years to the state’s days as a territory. But the art of brewing in Montana has come a long way since the frontier era. Today, 38 craft breweries span the Treasure State, and the quality of their output rivals the best craft beer produced anywhere in the country. Maybe it’s because there’s also a little piece of Montana in every glass, as the state’s brewers pride themselves on using cold mountain water and locally sourced barley harvested from Montana’s ample fields. From grain to glass, “Montana Beer” tells the story of the brewers and breweries that make the Treasure State’s brews so special.
“The Endangered Species Road Trip: A Summer’s Worth of Dingy Motels, Poison Oak, Ravenous Insects, and the Rarest Species in North America” by Cameron MacDonald
Crammed into a minivan with wife, toddler, infant and dog, accompanied by mounds of toys, diapers, tent, sleeping bags and other paraphernalia, Cameron MacDonald embarks on the road trip of a lifetime to observe North America’s rarest species.
In California, the family camps in the brutally hot Mojave, he observes a desert tortoise – “the size and shape of a bike helmet and the colour of gravel” – sitting motionless in the shade of a scrubby sage bush. In Yellowstone National Park, after driving through unseasonal snow, he manages to spot a rare black wolf and numerous grizzlies, which, unfortunately, call forth a crowd of “grizzly gawkers.” The journey takes the MacDonald family from British Columbia, along the West Coast of the U.S., through the Southwest and Florida, up the East Coast to Canada and then back home to B.C.
Along the way, MacDonald offers fascinating details about the natural history of the endangered species he seeks, as well as threats like overpopulation, commercial fishing and climate change that are driving them toward extinction.
“The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture” by Mary Pipher
Psychologist Mary Pipher explains how to conquer our fears about the major environmental issues that confound us and transform them into a positive force in our lives.
Pipher believes it is within each of us to face the seemingly intractable global problems that threaten to overwhelm us. She demonstrates how we can heal ourselves and help heal the planet with what she calls a “transcendent response,” and she emphasizes the importance of taking small, positive steps to savor life and preserve what’s important to all of us.
Pipher draws from her own experiences as part of a group fighting energy company TransCanada’s installation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline near her home that would have disastrous effects on the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of 40 percent of the the United States’ fresh water.
Two new paperbacks that book clubs will want to know about are:
“The Bartender’s Tale” by Ivan Doig
Tom Harry has a streak of frost in his black pompadour and a venerable bar called The Medicine Lodge, the chief watering hole and last refuge in the town of Gros Ventre, in northern Montana. Tom also has a son named Rusty, an “accident between the sheets” whose mother deserted them both years ago. The pair makes an odd kind of family, with the bar their true home, but they manage just fine.
Until the summer of 1960, when Rusty turns 12. Change arrives with gale force, in the person of Proxy, a taxi dancer Tom knew back when, and her beatnik daughter, Francine. Is Francine, as Proxy claims, the unsuspected legacy of her and Tom’s past? Without a doubt she is an unsettling gust of the future, upending every certainty in Rusty’s life and generating a mist of passion and pretense that seems to obscure everyone’s vision but his own.
“The Bartender’s Tale” wonderfully captures how the world becomes bigger and the past becomes more complex in the last moments of childhood.
“Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis” by Timothy Egan
Prize-winning writer Timothy Egan tells the riveting, cinematic story behind the most famous photographs in Native American history and the driven, brilliant man who made them.
Edward Curtis was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer and a famous portrait photographer. He moved in rarefied circles, a friend to presidents, vaudeville stars, leading thinkers. But when he was 32 years old, in 1900, he gave it all up to pursue his Great Idea: to capture on film the continent’s original inhabitants before the old ways disappeared.
Curtis spent the next three decades documenting the stories and rituals of more than 80 North American tribes. It took tremendous perseverance – 10 years alone to persuade the Hopi to allow him to observe their Snake Dance ceremony. And the undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. Curtis would amass more than 40,000 photographs and 10,000 audio recordings, and he is credited with making the first narrative documentary film. In the process, the charming rogue with the grade-school education created the most definitive archive of the American Indian.
For pure fun be sure to look for these two books:
“The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Crayons have feelings, too.
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking – each believes he is the true color of the sun. What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?
There are many lessons for parents and teachers to discuss, but it’s pure fun to revisit all the colors of our crayon past. Get ready to search for a box of crayons after reading!
“William Shakespeare’s Star Wars” by Ian Doescher
Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic “Star Wars” in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, “Star Wars” abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.
Fans will love the “Star Wars” jokes and Shakespearean flourishes (R2-D2 launches into dramatic soliloquies whenever the other characters leave the stage). Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter, with 20 gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations, “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars” will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike.
Two books going on sale on Sept. 10 (please wait or call to reserve a copy):
“Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune” by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.
A portrait of over-the-top wealth and a haunting story of reclusive American heiress Huguette Clark. Her fascinating story – and the colorful past of the now infamous W. A. Clark family – are told by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman and Huguette’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell Jr., who reveal new and surprising information.
Huguette secluded herself from the world for more than half a century, becoming an Internet sensation just before her death at age 104, when her three empty mansions in California, New York and Connecticut were discovered. An elder abuse investigation was opened into the handling of her $300 million fortune, her Stradivarius violin, and her paintings by Degas and Renoir. A battle over her copper inheritance ensued, pitting her distant family against her nurse, doctor, hospital and others she named to receive millions in one of the two wills she signed.
“Songs of Willow Frost: A Novel” by Jamie Ford
Best-selling novelist Jamie Ford’s latest is the story of William Eng, a Chinese-American boy confined to Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage during the Great Depression. On a birthday outing to the Moore Theatre, William sees an actress on-screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. William is convinced that Willow is his mother, Liu Song, whom he has not seen since the local doctor carried her nearly unconscious body out of their small apartment when he was 7 years old.
Determined to find and meet Willow, William’s search will take him into Depression-era Seattle, where he must not only try to survive, but confront the mysteries of his past. Is Willow his mother and why, if she is now a Hollywood sensation, has she not come to rescue him?
Filled with wonderful characters, this is also a wonderful portrait of Seattle during the Depression as well as the early movie business that existed in Washington state. Fans of “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” will not be disappointed.
My reading list is out of control, so you can look forward to hearing about many more books in the coming months. Remember to mark your calendar for the Festival of the Book on Oct. 10-12.
Barbara Theroux is manager of Fact & Fiction Bookstore in downtown Missoula. She writes a monthly column for the Missoulian’s Booming section.