Grappling with the West
West Word reading series begins Thursday
By ADAM TANOUS
Express Arts Editor
"The real world goes like this: The Neversummer
Mountains like a jumble of broken glass. Snowfields weep slowly down.
Chambers Lake, ringed by trees, gratefully catches the drip in its tin
cup, and gives the mountains their own reflection in return. This is the
real world, indifferent, unburdened."
So begins James Galvinís 1992 novel, The Meadow.
If presented a little differently, the passage might be a poem, and, in
fact, may have begun as one. Whether poetry or prose, the writing
expresses the way this place in which we live, the West, holds a presence
in our imaginations.
While it is not unusual for place to play such a role in
fiction--to the point of being the unnamed character in the plot--it seems
that the West, because of its size, demands a larger piece of turf in our
No doubt the West is a loaded word and place. In contrast
to the openness of the land, the people and the issues they bring to it
are complex and varied. This may be why it continues to thread its way
through our literature and our lives.
Kicking off a five-part series of readings entitled West
Word: Fiction from the New West, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts will
present James Galvin reading from his latest novel, Fencing the Sky,
Thursday at 7 p.m. A reception and book signing will follow the reading.
Galvin, a native of Northern Colorado and currently
director of the University of Iowa Writerís Workshop, is the also the
author of several books of poetry, including Imaginary Timber, Godís
Mistress and Lethal Frequencies.
The idea for the reading series came out of last yearís
Western Issues Conference. Historian and author Richard White pointed out
that the stories we tell about the West have the ability to shape our
perspective of the past and the future. Because the West is growing and
changing so quickly, White said, new stories are needed to reflect our
Even the title of Galvinís recent novel, Fencing the
Sky, underscores the contradictions and impulses that course through
modern life in the West.
To shine light on the stories of the West that are being
told now, the center is bringing in five authors to read from their work.
Other writers scheduled to read are Brady Udall (Letting Loose the
Hounds) on Feb. 22, David Treuer (The Hiawatha) on March 1,
Karla Kuban (Marchlands) on March 8 and Susan Straight (Blacker
Than a Thousand Midnights) on March 29.