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The Mountain and the Fathers Growing Up on the Big Dry

Ly these lives put forth a new examination of myth and manhood in the American west and cast a journalistic eye on how young men seek to transcend their surroundings in the search for a better life Rather than dwell on grief or ruin Wilkins’ memoir posits that it is our stories that sustain us and. One of the most beautiful books I ve ever read My heart

REVIEW The Mountain and the Fathers Growing Up on the Big Dry

Ly grandfather following the untimely death of his father That early loss stretches out across the Big Dry and Wilkins uses his own story and those of the young boys and men growing up around him to examine the violence confusion and rural poverty found in this distinctly American landscape Ultimate. Wilkins is a poet and each short chapter delivers the rhythms and song of the best writing What is even remarkable is that these chapterprose poems subtly construct a remarkable narrative that gathers momentum and delivers both hope and tragedy in the same breath Brilliant stuff

SUMMARY Ö HIDEAWAYSTUDIO.CO.UK ☆ Joe Wilkins

The Mountain and The Fathers explores the life of boys and men in the unforgiving harsh world north of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana in a drought afflicted area called the Big Dry a land that chews up old and young alike Joe Wilkins was born into this world raised by a young mother and elder. My father promised me a shotgun for my 12th birthday which was not at all unusual for a Montana kid Certainly not back in 1966 That was the year my Dad and I logged the most flight time together in the Cessnas he sold for a livingWe d swoop low at the sight of antelope for a fun chase across the mesas I was itching to bag a pronghorn anything with antlers actually I wanted to mount a pair on the knotty pine walls of my bedroom There I would hang our bamboo fly fishing rods canvass creels and the fluorescent pink caps we wore in the field so hunters wouldn t mistake us for gameThe Mountains and the Fathers rekindled sweet memories of my own father and I The new book is a memoir by Joe Wilkins a gifted writer 24 years my junior who grew up 85 miles north of my childhood home in Billings This is the Big Dry a drought punished country in the vast plains of east central Montana Wilkins nails the sense of this place dead on with poet s eyes that see the landscape as one part grass and two parts sky and musician s ears for the grass that cracks beneath your steps The snap shirts feed store ball caps Rainier beer cans antelope breakfast steaks Chinook winds and the opaue plastic sheets covering windows in the winter evoked the romance of the interior West that I cherished as a boyHowever unlike my short lived Big Sky adventure We moved to the Bay Area just as I turned 12 ruling out the shotgun Wilkins nostalgia for the Big Dry is bittersweet Writing in his early 30s Wilkins reflects on his youth as a story of survival His father died when he was 9 leaving his mother to raise him and two siblings on a 300 acre sheep and hay farm in a gritty dot of a community called Melstone They survived on the whims of rainfall and a coal fired furnace in a drafty house cobbled together from the ruins of homesteader shacks You couldn t call it a living It was a kind of ritualized dying Wilkins writesMore than a memoir the book is an indictment of the ideology of rugged individualism so deeply rooted in the arid American West The success through hard work religion no doubt makes for rugged individuals However this book shows that it also turns individuals against their land and ultimately themselvesWilkins portrays a dismal array of childhood peers including an overgrown bully named Rooster Several are abandoned or abused by their parents or relatives By his mid teens Wilkins joins his lot in drinking hard driving fast and doping on nicotine But he stops short of throwing punches and smoking marijuana He has boundaries because he has hopeThat hope springs from his rancher grandfather who gifts him a vision for some better life beyond Melstone and from the stories told of his esteemed father whom Wilkins has subconsciously erased from memory The author was also blessed with imagination thanks to his college educated mother Olive who gifts him a love for reading This book brings to mind novelist Wallace Stegner s stories of those like his father who fell victim to the rain follows the plow myth The Big Rock Candy Mountain and Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade SpringsThe Mountains and the Fathers is another poignant lesson in reconciling ourselves with our natural environment Working the land in the Big Dry yields riches but they are marginal and ephemeralBlaming failure not on the elements but on the character of the participants is a recipe for self destruction Working the land harder through overgrazing and other brute force only brings impoverishment to the land and its people We need to remember how it really was and is out West and we need to tell those true new stories Wilkins writesThe Mountains and the Fathers is one of true new stories well told


About the Author: Joe Wilkins

Joe Wilkins was born and raised north of the Bull Mountains out on the Big Dry of eastern Montana His debut novel Fall Back Down When I Die speaks to the struggle violence and care Joe knew growing up in the rural West and his memoir The Mountain and the Fathers captures the lives of boys and men in that desolate country a place that shapes the people who live there and rarely lets them



10 thoughts on “The Mountain and the Fathers Growing Up on the Big Dry

  1. says:

    My father promised me a shotgun for my 12th birthday which was not at all unusual for a Montana kid Certainly not back in 1966 That wa

  2. says:

    Joe Wilkins writes in beautiful prose of his life in Eastern Montana He tells a story in each chapter as if a certain subject Lake Water Sky Slow Breath or person his mother Bruce Wheatry Kelly Dempsey each brought to his mind pictures and lessons learned Wilkins writing is almost like reading poetry It is descr

  3. says:

    The language Oh the language Swoon

  4. says:

    I thought this was a sad book about growing up fatherless in a tough world of poverty isolation and manual labor in Eastern MontanaI liked the lyrical writing Many of the passages seemed dream like or like a free writing assignment It read like a collection of short stories than a memoir It also seemed so sad a

  5. says:

    Wilkins is a poet and each short chapter delivers the rhythms and song of the best writing What is even remarkable is that these chapterprose poems subtly construct a remarkable narrative that gathers momentum and delivers both hope and tragedy in the same breath Brilliant stuff

  6. says:

    I enjoyed this very much I personally know the author and live close to the setting of the book Several places brought tears to my eyes Well do

  7. says:

    Book recommended to me by a classmate and is mainly composed of short flashbacks The human elements in this book are stir

  8. says:

    Joe Wilkins grew up in a water starved stretch of eastern Montana known as the Big Dry With his new book he returns to the unforgiving landscape of his youth in a series of wistful vignettes culled from vivid often violent childhood memories The Mountain and the Fathers is a wonderfully rendered portrait of starkly beautiful rural life and a haunting search for what it means to be a man in the American West Wilkins is a poet; his

  9. says:

    One of the most beautiful books I've ever read My heart

  10. says:

    A well crafted memoir of a young boy raised by his mother and grandfather after the death his father He structures the book around the men in rural Montana east of the Rockies who he emulated and others who he learned to avoid His desire to always belong led him along paths that he later regretted but his grandfather's values and his mother's grit brought him through Definitely a man's book

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