Starting this month and continuing each month through 2014, “Utah Lit” will recommend a monthly selection and provide background and context for those reading the book. The final Sunday of each month, an author interview will publish at sltrib.com and in The Tribune’s print edition in advance of a live TribTalk video chat about the book moderated by Jennifer Napier-Pearce. That discussion will take place live at 12:15 p.m. on the final Friday of
each month. An archived version of the chat will be available at sltrib.com, where readers also will be able to download a podcast.
“The Ordinary Truth,” a powerful family narrative by Escalante-based writer Jana Richman, is the inaugural selection for “Utah Lit,” The Salt Lake Tribune’s new online book club.
The club will explore regional writers who take on issues important in the West such as Richman, whose novel is built around a controversial Nevada water pipeline.
Other 2014 selections will look at the state’s many writers of genre books and books that provide context to our state’s cultural divide and extend the conversation in interesting ways. More information about “Utah Lit” is available on The Salt Lake Tribune “Utah Lit” Facebook page, facebook.com/utalit.
You also may follow UtahLit on Twitter, @utahlit.
January: The Ordinary Truth by Jana Richman
February: Roomies & What We Lost by Sara Zarr
March: Theft by BK Loren
April: Train Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World--From the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief by Tom Zoellner
May: Seven Summers by Julia Corbett
June: If I Can't Have You by Greg Olsen
September: The Human Age by Diane Ackerman
Although this fiction debut landed last June, it may have flown below the radar, and really deserves another look. Not a terribly long novel, Theft is full of moderately distilled and beautiful language that casts sensitive descriptions of both its characters and the landscape of the American West. A master tracker who has been working to reintroduce the Mexican wolf to wilderness areas, the book's primary character, Willa, is contracted to track her renegade brother, but pursuing him may lead Willa to physical and emotional ground she's not eager to cover again. A moving and endlessly interesting piece of fiction!
Two things are sacrosanct for any
ranch in the western United States: family and water rights. The
Jorgensen family has ranched and run cattle in Spring Valley, Nevada
since 1885. Fast forward to 2011 when Kate Jorgensen, in her role as
deputy water resource manager for the Nevada Water Authority, appears on
television one night to inform the people of the Silver state that the
city of Las Vegas is, with the Authority's approval, going to sink
hundreds of miles of pipeline under the Nevada and Utah aquifers to
accommodate the ever-increasing growth of the Entertainment Capital of
the World. No one in her family or the small town of Omer Springs,
Nevada can comprehend her actions. Although she's a ranch girl by birth,
Kate's "family" life is divided into Before and After her dad died and
the fact that he died when she was ten years old has complicated and
confused her for 36 years. This novel is told from the very different
perspectives of Kate, her daughter Cassie, and her mother Nell. Her aunt
Leona adds a chapter here and there to give us an outsider's view of
the Jorgensen clan over the span of three generations. The truth is,
everybody has a different truth and it's hard, even impossible
sometimes, to see the other side of the coin. I loved this sweeping
story of three strong, smart women doing their best to make their way in
a West that is changing faster than any of us want to admit. In the
truth is stranger than fiction department, this very fight over water
rights is happening now in the Nevada legislature.