Reading the West 2013 – Winning Titles

 

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Adult Fiction

 

The Son

THE SON
by Philipp Meyer

HarperCollins/Ecco
978-0-062-12039-7

THE SON is an epic, multigenerational saga of power, blood, and land that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the border raids of the early 1900s to the oil booms of the twentieth century.

“With its vast scope – stretching from pre-Civil War cowboys to post-9/11 immigrants – THE SON makes a viable claim to be a Great American Novel of the sort John Dos Passos and Frank Norris once produced. … An extraordinary orchestration of American history, a testament to the fact that all victors erect their empires on bones bleached by the light of self-righteousness.” –Washington Post

“Only in the greatest of historical novels do we come to feel both the distance of the past and our own likely complicity in the sins of a former age, had we been a part of it. To that rank, we now add THE SON.” –New York Times Book Review

Philipp Meyer is the author of the critically lauded novel AMERICAN RUST, winner of the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was an Economist Book of the Year in 2009, a Washington Post Top Ten Book of the year, and a New York Times Notable Book. Philipp Meyer is a graduate of Cornell University and has an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a James Michener Fellow. A native of Baltimore, he now lives mostly in Texas.

 

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Adult Nonfiction

 

The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon

THE EMERALD MILE:
The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History
through the Heart of the Grand Canyon
by Kevin Fedarko

Simon & Schuster/Scribner
978-1-439-15988-9

In the winter of 1983, the largest El Niño event on record – a chain of “superstorms” that swept in from the Pacific Ocean – battered the entire West. That spring, a massive snowmelt sent runoff racing down the Colorado River toward the Glen Canyon Dam, a 710-foot-high wall of concrete that sat at the head of the most iconic landscape feature in America, the Grand Canyon. As the water clawed toward the parapet of the dam, worried federal officials desperately scrambled to avoid a worst-case scenario: one of the most dramatic dam failures in history.

In the midst of this crisis, a trio of river guides secretly launched a small, hand-built wooden boat, a dory named the Emerald Mile, into the Colorado just below the dam’s base and rocketed toward the dark chasm downstream, where the torrents of water released by the dam engineers had created a rock-walled maelstrom so powerful it shifted giant boulders and created bizarre hydraulic features never previously seen.

An insurgent river run under such conditions seemed to border on the suicidal, but Kenton Grua, the captain of that dory, was on an unusual mission: a gesture of defiance unlike anything the river world had ever seen. His aim was to use the flood as a hydraulic slingshot that would hurl him and two companions through 277 miles of some of the most ferocious white water in North America and, if everything went as planned, catapult the Emerald Mile into legend as the fastest boat ever propelled – by oar, by motor, or by the grace of God – through the heart of the Grand Canyon.

Kevin Fedarko lives in northern New Mexico and works as a part-time river guide in Grand Canyon National Park. In addition to his travel narratives in Outside, where he worked as a senior editor, Fedarko’s work has appeared in Esquire, National Geographic Adventure, and other publications, and has been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing in 2004 and 2006. Fedarko was a staff writer at Time magazine from 1991 to 1997, where his work helped garner an Overseas Press Club Award for a story on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Fedarko earned a Masters of Philosophy in Russian history at Oxford in 1990.

 

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Children’s

 

Last Ride of Caleb O'Toole

THE LAST RIDE OF CALEB O’TOOLE
by Eric Pierpoint

Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky
978-1-402-28171-6

“A pioneer story that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. Part Wild West tale, part quest, part historical fiction, part family drama, the novel moves easily among the genres … it is probably strongest as a Western, drawing detailed descriptions of lawless towns, packed saloons, and bloody gunfights … Caleb is a remarkable protagonist who gains considerable maturity over the course of the adventure, and his interactions with his sisters add warmth to the story. This isn’t a historical lesson but an adventure, and it’s a fine one at that, sweeping readers along with breakneck pacing.” -Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“In this action-packed debut novel … Pierpoint has created a suspenseful, enlightening read featuring worthy allies (including several tribes of Native Americans) and wicked enemies (including a bad sheriff and his murderous brothers).” -Booklist

Eric Pierpoint is a veteran Hollywood actor whose credits include Hart of Dixie, Parks and Recreation, and Alien Nation. His ancestors came west on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, so Eric and his dog, Joey, followed in their wagon wheel tracks and traveled cross-country researching this book.

 

Posted May 30, 2014