Bill Kittridge RIP

Just received word that Bill Kittridge died –

He was a mentor to than one of my friends at the University of Montana.

He grew up on a ranch in Eastern Oregon memorialized in his book, “Owning it All”. Then he became a professor for many years at the University of Montana, Missoula where he mentored more people in the west than anyone before or since, writers as diverse as Terry Tempest Williams, Rick Bass to Gary Nabhan, and Robert Michael Pyle. 

I think it will be no insult to his memory to say he will be remembered best as a mentor and teacher. His writing was good, but his mentoring was unparalleled and is exemplified by the collection “The Last Best Place“.

Gary Nabhan wrote in “Twenty-Five Authors Pay Tribute to William Kittredge’s Passing.”

Bill Kittredge will remain among the giants of fiction and nonfiction writing in American West, up there with McCarthy, Hugo, Welch, Silko, McGuane, Austin, Ehrlich, Cather, and Harrison in our pantheon of poetic voices from rural America’s scrappy, roughed-up, and wildly imaginative towns and ranches. But anyone who conversed, traveled, ate, or drank with Bill no doubt remembers his unswerving warmth, hilarious humor, poignant commentaries, and deep commitment to make life in the boonies more memorable, compassionate, morally fierce, and ultimately, culturally richer. He gifted us a New Story for the West, one most of us are still trying to live up to, and in. In the last three decades of his life, he also took on the voice of a prophet and sage, as stunning in his place-based pronouncements as Wallace Stegner, Wendell Berry, Charles Wilkinson, Terry Williams, John Nichols, Annick Smith or Winona LaDuke. He made you feel deeply comfortable, but he also challenged us to think beyond the horizon of our own messy lives to forge a West that would be more inclusive, reflective, and refreshing. The twinkle in his merry eyes will never die, but will arch over us like a meteor of hope.

He will be missed.

Steve

Joseph Paul Summers Brown 2021 RIP

Joe Brown

I just received word that Joe Brown died; he was 90. I did not know him well, but I knew him and enjoyed him.

He was the often-unsung BEST of all the cowboy writers, certainly of the border writers. He could throw a rope and tell a story. He bought ranches on both sides of the Rio Grande – sometime in cash (gold coins!) He was down and out and sometimes got moving money. With the last, he once bought an airplane that he used to clip the radio mast off a whore house of a Madam, who had offended him, on the border.

When I first met him, he told me a long-winded story about he and old cowboy from Magdalena, Fred Martin, had paused at a whorehouse on the boarder, when they were smuggling cattle across in WWII. He said, the girls called him in, because “the old son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t take off his boots.” I told this story to his great granddaughter, she said, “that’s so grandpa, that’s so cute.”

He wrote the best boarder novel ever, “Forests of the Night”, about a cattle-killing jaguar, its English is fascinating, written entirely in Spanish syntax. It’s a chilling novel besides.

In my opinion he wrote the best working cowboy novel, “The Outfit.”

Jim Harrison said of him, “JPS Brown is the great restorer of the great American quest.

That will stand.

Steve

Goddess

The goddess has been here about six months now, but we met her several years ago at Jim and Phoebe Caldwell’s – she stood above our bed there, when we visited, for two week. By then I was in love with her. She is imposing, a vaguely disapproving look on her face – and two immense hounds, resembling the cross between stock protection dogs and tazis used to kill wolves in Asia. One of them is looking right at you.

They are obviously the hounds of Diana, so who could she be but the goddess? Or so I thought, until Penelope gently told me she had another name, “Mail oder Brides come with Baggage.”

That will do, too.

Steve

Malpai News

Anyone who read this blog is familiar with the Malpai Borderland Group.

Anyone who receives their mailer got shocking news. While their program continues to work fairly well north of the border, there’s a real threat from the south. The new Great Wall promoted by Trump and his friends. Their Great Wall might as well be designed to decrease wildlife diversity and end the kind of policies that have made the Borderland Group so successful. It is a little ridiculous to cut off the flow of animals to the south. Under such policies such creatures like water glens’ jaguar, would never find their way to the US. If this goes on the very rational for the Borderlands existence will vanish.

Steve

Still fighting my way back.

Hi,

We’ve made a lot of progress, completed a few articles, and am working with my assistant Tess to finish my second Book of Books – but the blog is aloost defeating me. The changes in my voices’ pitch and volume throughout the day are simly too much for the dictation programs I’ve tried so far. The can’t understand what I’m saying consistently enough to make it anything but frustrating.

I will keep trying.

Thank you for all the support I’ve received from friends and blog readers. Bear with me while I find a way back to posting regularly.

Steve

Author, Stephen Bodio in his library/study.