In literary anthologies, Easterners and Midwesterners rarely concern themselves with what it means to be from those places, not like Westerners and Southerners, anyway. The East Coast, in particular has a long history (by U.S. standards), which provides them with identity enough, while the Midwesterner can take solace from the songs of Top 40 country radio that they are authentic in their plain, God-fearing ways. It's the Southerner and Westerner, though, who seem most concerned with place, as if the rest of the country isn't as nuanced or spectacular or mysterious. The South's curious inferiority/superiority complex is definitely intriguing and its multitudinous renderings of American English can be a delight to read and hear, but the aforementioned superiority complex can grow tiresome: I'm looking at you Texas. As Jim Morrison said, "The West is best," and although that may be true in most cases, we also have our foibles and curses and it can't hurt to investigate those things now and again. By "now and again" I do mean "constantly," as the onslaught of published works on the subject of what it means to be a Westerner never ceases. That's probably because the meaning of the West and the definition of a Westerner are always in flux.
A recent addition to the conversation is West of 98, Living and Writing the New America West, an anthology of 66 western writers who represent every state west of the 98th: parallel. The collection, edited by Lynn Stegner and Russell Rowland, seeks to remonstrate against the manifest destiny of the past and demonstrate how the new Western narrative must shape a new kind of West. A narrative that takes the environment into account and one that reminds us how living in this paradisiacal landscape requires more than looking enthusiastically at the newly white-capped mountains with awe, but instead requires us to at the very least consider our interdependence with the peaks.
The Open Book Club in Seeley Lake presents A Look at the West, with Russell Rowland, co–editor of West of 98. Contributors to the anthology Annick Smith and William Kittredge will join Rowland. Grizzly Claw Trading Co. Sat., Oct. 29., at 7 PM. Free.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 27
Get your little sponges down to the MNHC's miniNaturalists Pre-K Program so they can develop the necessary skills to cultivate a love of the outdoors. Kids ages 2–5 are welcome when accompanied by an adult. 10–11 AM. $1 for members, $3 for all others. montananaturalist.org.
You'll be climbing up a wall at Freestone Climbing Center's Ladies Night each Thursday. 935 Toole Ave. 5–10 PM. $6.50/$5 Student.
Keep your fangs to yourself during the talk The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale: What They Teach Us About Our Relationship to Nature, at 7:30 PM in Room 123 of UM's Gallagher Business Building. Free.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 28
Dudes and Bettys get ready for the shreddy, shreddy gnar–gnar to come this winter by checking out two, count 'em, two free snowboarding films being shown at the Wilma, Familia 2 and GOOD LOOK. Doors 7PM. Free.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 29
The Halloween Haul 5K Fun Run would like you to dress in a costume, bring your pet on a leash and donate your entry fee to UM Physical Therapy students. Very Missoula. Costume suggestion: Loudon Swain. 8 AM registration, 10 AM start. Contact email@example.com.
Woodland Ice Center has a gang of action today. From noon until 2 PM it's Co–ed Try-it Hockey for all ages. From 6–8:30PM Red Ribbon Week Opening Party. It's the Try–it Hockey for women, with the Wildcats (MT's Select Girls team) goes from 7:30–9:30PM. $15. Chalk Talk for women with Steve Tartaglino happens from 9:30–10PM. Call 755–3746.
The Open Book Club in Seeley Lake presents A Look at the West with Russell Rowland who is the editor of the West of 98 anthology. Contributors Annick Smith and William Kittredge will join Rowland. Grizzly Claw Trading Co. 7 PM. Free.
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 1
Intro to Avalanche Awareness: Part 2 is the second part of, you guessed it, Avy Awareness Part 1, given by the Western Montana Avalanche Foundation. REI. 6:30 PM. Free.
Kayakers come on down to Currents for some indoor paddling at the Open Kayak Session. Bring your clean and scoured boats and gear. Now, who is gonna rally down the slide? 8 to10PM. $5.75.