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Place exerts the power of destiny in these ten stories of lives uncannily recognisable and unforgettably strange: a boy makes a surprising discovery skating at night on Lake Michigan; an Irish clan in Massachusetts gathers at the bedside of its dying matriarch; a battered survivor of the glory days of Key West washes up on other shores.
Several of the stories unfold in Big Sky country, McGuane's signature landscape: a father tries to buy his adult son out of virginity; a convict-turned-cowhand finds refuge at a ranch in ruination; a couple makes a fateful drive through the perilous gorge of the title story before parting ways.
McGuane's people are seekers, beguiled by the land's beauty and myth, compelled by the fantasy of what a locale can offer, forced to reconcile dream and truth.
The stories of Gallatin Canyon are alternately comical, dark, and poignant. Rich in the wit, compassion, and matchless language for which McGuane is celebrated, they are the work of a master.
A Parade Magazine “Books We Love” Pick
The Big Sky State may seem to lack the shadowy urban mazes traditional to the noir genre. But in Montana, darkness is found in the regions of the heart, driving the desperate and deadly to commit the most heinous of crimes. Here, James Grady and Keir Graff, both Montana natives, masterfully curate this collection of hard-edged Western tales.
Montana Noir includes Eric Heidle’s “Ace in the Hole,” an Edgar Award nominee for Best Short Story, and impressive contributions by David Abrams, Caroline Patterson, Thomas McGuane, Janet Skeslien Charles, Sidner Larson, Yvonne Seng, James Grady, Jamie Ford, Carrie La Seur, Walter Kirn, Gwen Florio, Debra Magpie Earling, and Keir Graff.
“Terrific . . . Montana Noir is one of the high points in Akashic’s long-running and justly celebrated Noir series . . . varying landscapes reflect the darkness within the people who walk the streets or drive the country roads.” —Booklist
“Montana may not have the back alleys so common to noir but it has western justice which can be quick, brutal and final and that is as satisfying as anything found in the urban streets that typically attract the dark beauty of the noir genre.” —New York Journal of Books
“Certain noir standbys prove both malleable and fertile in these 14 new stories . . . If Montana has a dark side, is anywhere safe from noir?” —Kirkus Reviews
This is the story of the Whitelaws, a family whose values are as far flung as the territory they helped settle, and whose most recent generations have pioneered the landscape of dysfunction. The patriarch, Sunny Jim, exerts his perverse control even posthumously, by means of a last will and testament that binds the family fortune to a marriage that ought, by general consent, to be rent asunder.
The charms of this particular son-in-law, lately released from prison, are potent if short-lived; Evelyn Whitelaw, his estranged wife, is quite literally bedevilled by them. And as her mother and sister court this twisted inheritance, her own yearnings point toward a way of life once habitual on the western plains but now embodied only by Bill Champion, the family's ranch foreman and Evelyn's one true compass.
The Cadence of Grass is at once an elegy and a masterpiece of savage comedy from one of the most compelling novelists writing today.