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By Maximilian Werner. 2011
2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards for General Fiction Honorable Mention2011 Utah Book Award FinalistCrooked Creek takes place during the latter… part of westward expansion and chronicles the lives (and deaths) of the Wood family. The Woods-Preston and Sara-must flee Arizona when they, along with Sara's parents and little brother Jasper, unwittingly get caught up in the plunder and sale of American Indian corpses and funerary objects. Preston, Sara, and Jasper end up in the Heber Valley of Utah, where they seek the support of Sara's Uncle Neff until they can be reunited with Sara's mother and father. But from the moment they ride into Heber, Preston and Sara learn that life in the valley is not as it appears, and that no matter how far we run, we cannot escape the past. Maximilian Werner is the author of Black River Dreams, a collection of literary fly fishing essays that won the 2008 Utah Arts Council's Original Writing Competition for Nonfiction: Book. Mr. Werner's poems, fiction, creative nonfiction, and essays have appeared in several journals and magazines, including Matter Journal: Edward Abbey Edition, Bright Lights Film Journal, The North American Review, ISLE, Weber Studies, Fly Rod and Reel, and Columbia. He lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and two children and teaches writing at the University of Utah."Maximilian Werner is a fresh and grounded writer, a welcome and original new voice." -Thomas McGuane, author of Driving on the Rim"Here in the deep measured prose of Max Werner is a western story, harsh and lush as the old world it depicts. Crooked Creek shows again that one of the natural laws of the wilderness--along with wind and stone and animals and family--is violence. Just as wind and water shaped the stone, trouble shaped these men. With its compelling, layered story, this rich book is a reader's pleasure." -Ron Carlson, author of The Signal"Max Werner's Crooked Creek offers a haunting voyage into the past and into living landscapes sharpened by western light, resonating with the work of such authors as Cormac McCarthy and Wallace Stegner. A narrative of the vitality of family bonds, it is also a tale of the heroic struggle to carry the burden of memory and to transform history's nightmares into visions of possibility, as Octavio Paz once argued was the high calling of literature. Crooked Creek reminds us of the tough aesthetic that is required to sustain hope in family, in community, and in the staggering and heartbreaking beauty of nature that Werner's prose powerfully illuminates, while also reckoning with the dark sins of betrayal and violence that are the legacies of the American West. Werner convinces us that no meaningful sense of place is possible otherwise."-George Handley, author of Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River
By Jana Richman. 2012
When Nell Jorgensen buried her husband, she buried a piece of herself-and more than one secret. Now, thirty-six years later,… the rift between Nell and her daughter Kate threatens to implode as Kate, a water manager for the Nevada Water Authority, plans to pipe water from a huge aquifer that lies beneath the family ranch to thirsty Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Nell's granddaughter Cassie intends to unearth those old secrets and repair the resentments that grew in their place. Throughout the novel, sparse and beautiful landscapes surround an emotional wilderness of love, loss, and family.Jana Richman is the award-winning author of The Last Cowgirl (HarperCollins, 2009), a novel which won the 2009 Willa Award for Contemporary Fiction. A sixth-generation Utahn, Jana was born and raised in Utah's west desert, the daughter of a small-time rancher and a hand-wringing Mormon mother. With the exception of a few misguided years spent in New York City trying to make a fortune on Wall Street, she has lived her entire life west of the hundredth meridian. She writes about issues that threaten to destroy the essence of the west-and about passion, beauty, and love. Jana lives in Escalante, Utah.