Here’s a look at new and noteworthy titles on the theme of the American West by authors with Oregon connections.
The Oregon author’s latest work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life Carrie Strahorn, who traveled the American West in the late 1800s with her husband, Robert Strahorn, a railroad promoter and investor who founded several towns in Idaho.
“Everything She Didn’t Say” (352 pages, Revell, $15.99) imagines what might have been really going on between the lines of Strahorn’s memoir as she and her husband moved almost continuously for 25 years.
As part of his promotions, Robert Strahorn wrote guidebooks that painted the West as a paradise; this novel lets his wife, who edited his writing and published her own observations about the West under a pen name, be a bigger part of the narrative.
Scott F. Parker
This Oregon native lives in Minnesota, from whence he has come to regard his birth state with a yearning for how he remembers it.
In “A Way Home: Oregon Essays” (86 pages, Kelson Books, $18), he combines memoir with meditations, some full essays, others short vignettes, about how we define and devote ourselves to places, especially through the prisms of our unreliable memories. The book features elegant black-and-white illustrations by Alex Hirsch.
Robert Michael Pyle
Long respected for his nature writing, the southwest Washington lepidopterist and conservationist recently published his first novel, “Magdalena Mountain” (400 pages, Counterpoint Press, $16.95).
Magdalena is the name of a Western mountain butterfly, and Pyle alternates chapters about its hero’s journey of survival with chapters about the journeys of various humans drawn to the titular mountain: a young man who’s fallen almost accidentally into an entomology graduate program, a woman recovering from a life-changing car accident and a community of spiritual brothers pledged to preserving the parcel where they live, for starters.
The Portland biographer-historian is the winner of the 2018 Thomas J. Lyon Award for the Best Book in Western American Literary and Cultural Studies for his biography “Ernest Haycox and the Western” (200 pages, University of Oklahoma Press, $29.95).
The award is given by the Western Literature Association. Portland native Ernest Haycox was a key figure in creating the Western novel, writes Etulain, who occasionally reviews books for The Oregonian.
Haycox’s most influential book was arguably “Stagecoach,” which was adapted into a film starring John Wayne.