The Montana Book Award winner and honors books are listed the the news release below. I will provide reviews of  them—and maybe some good books that didn’t win awards—over the next few days.

You can read my post about the selection process here.

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BOUND LIKE GRASS WINS 2010 MONTANA BOOK AWARD

The 2010 Montana Book Award winner is Bound Like Grass by Ruth McLaughlin, published by University of Oklahoma Press. This annual award recognizes literary and/or artistic excellence in a book written or illustrated by someone who lives in Montana, is set in Montana, or deals with Montana themes or issues. Presentations and a reception with the winning authors will take place Thursday, April 7, during the Montana Library Association Conference in Billings.

Bound Like Grass: A Memoir from the Western High Plains is an honest, beautifully written memoir of McLaughlin’s own and her family’s struggle to survive on their isolated wheat and cattle farm. With acute observation, she explores her roots as a descendant of Swedish American grandparents who settled in Montana at the turn of the twentieth century with high ambitions, and of parents who barely managed to eke out a living on their own neighboring farm.

Four Honor Books Were Chosen:

Everything by Kevin Canty, published by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. Canty’s novel chronicles a year in the lives of five appealingly aimless Montanans. Layla, a bright college student, and her heavy-drinking father, RL, fall into parallel adulterous romances—she with Edgar, a promising young painter, he with Betsy, an exgirlfriend undergoing cancer treatment. Meanwhile, June, a friend of both father and daughter, struggles to put the death of her husband behind her. There is a lot of booze and heartbreak in the book, yet it is full of optimism and humanity.

Goodbye Wifes and Daughters by Susan Resnick, published by University of Nebraska Press. One morning in 1943, close to eighty men descended into the Smith coal mine in Bearcreek, Montana. Only three came out alive. “Goodbye wifes and daughters . . .” wrote two of the miners as they died. The story of that tragic day and its aftermath unfolds in this book through the eyes of those wives and daughters—women who lost their husbands, fathers, and sons, livelihoods, neighbors, and homes, yet managed to fight back and persevere.

The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Nathaniel Philbrick, published by Viking. In his tightly structured narrative, Nathaniel Philbrick brilliantly sketches the two larger-than-life antagonists: Sitting Bull, whose charisma and political savvy earned him the position of leader of the Plains Indians, and George Armstrong Custer, one of the Union’s greatest cavalry officers and a man with a reputation for fearless and often reckless courage. Philbrick reminds readers that the Battle of the Little Bighorn was also, even in victory, the last stand for the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian nations.

Visions of the Big Sky: Painting and Photographing the Northern Rocky Mountain West by Dan Flores, published by University of Oklahoma Press. Dan Flores has assembled some of the most important and evocative artwork created in the region, depicting scenes from the Wind River Range of Wyoming to the Canadian border country. The accompanying essays are insightful and solidify Montana’s art history identity.

The Montana Book Award was founded by the Friends of the Missoula Public Library in 2001 and winners are selected by a committee of individuals representing areas throughout Montana. Members of the 2010 Montana Book Award committee included Honore Bray, Missoula; Adam Kish, Twin Bridges; Mark Miller, Bozeman; Carole Ann Clark, Great Falls; Jill Munson, Fort Benton; Gordon Dean, Forsyth; and Samantha Pierson, Libby.

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— To find out more about my work with the Montana Book Award look under the “Categories Button” on the right.

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