News and Views: Tom McGuane and a Mind Adrift

My friend, Billings author Craig Lancaster posted a comment about Tom McGuane on his website, A Mind Adrift in the West. A New York Times article about McGuane said, “There’s a view of Montana writing that seems stage-managed by the Chamber of Commerce — it’s all about writers like A. B. Guthrie and Ivan Doig,” he said, referring to two authors of historical novels about a rugged, frontier Montana. “It used to bother me that nobody had a scene where somebody was delivering a pizza.”

Lancaster responded: I don’t want to toot my own horn (yeah, okay, just go with me on this one), but allow me to direct your attention to the bottom of Page 257 of 600 Hours of Edward:

“I’m watching Dragnet almost three hours early and might even watch another episode, if I feel like it. I’m also munching on thin-crust pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut. I didn’t go to the grocery store today. I decided I didn’t have to. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow. Or maybe not.

I’ll do whatever I feel like doing. You live only once.”

I commented: “I admire Tom McGuane’s mastery of craft, but his writing always strikes me as something written by a guy who moved to Montana 30 years ago and never bothered to learn the history of the place. He apparently hasn’t read the work of fine writers like you [Craig Lancaster], Kevin Canty, and Mary Clearman Blew. He’s right when he says the New York literary establishment slights western writers—and he does too. And, I recommend “Riding on the Rim.” [correction: Make that “Driving on the Rim.”]  It’s a fine novel about how a guy who moved to Montana 30 years ago thinks of the place.


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