As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. >> Click here for more SunLit

This week’s bookstore: Out West Books, 533 Main St., Grand Junction | @outwestbooks on TwitterInstagram

Deep Creek

By Pam Houston
W.W. Norton & Co.

January 2022

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From the publisher:  On her 120-acre homestead high in the Colorado Rockies, beloved writer Pam Houston learns what it means to care for a piece of land and the creatures on it. Elk calves and bluebirds mark the changing seasons, winter temperatures drop to 35 below, and lightning sparks a 110,000-acre wildfire, threatening her century-old barn and all its inhabitants. Through her travels from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska, she explores what ties her to the earth, the ranch most of all. Alongside her devoted Irish wolfhounds and a spirited troupe of horses, donkeys, and Icelandic sheep, the ranch becomes Houston’s sanctuary, a place where she discovers how the natural world has mothered and healed her after a childhood of horrific parental abuse and neglect.

From Marya at Out West Books:  Pam Houston took her royalties from “Cowboys are My Weakness,” a favorite book from my early years as a bookseller, and bought herself a ranch in southwestern Colorado.  Her book “Deep Creek” is partly an exploration of 25 years as a single woman ranch owner and partly her life; of writing, of unspeakable trauma, of teaching, lecturing, and traveling. 

Pam’s writing is so easy to read and so relatable for women, for Coloradoans.  It’s like you’re sitting on the sofa with a damned eloquent and entertaining speaker.  Though I have never seen her place, I pretty much know exactly what it looks like and though I only saw the South Fork Fire from afar, I know exactly what it was like to be in the middle of it.  For all Pam’s traveling (she had to pay for the ranch somehow, and lectures and workshops were the key), she always became grounded when she returned to her ranch.  Doesn’t that happen to us all?   We can go and we can do, but to come home and look out one’s kitchen window and just say “Ahhh” makes everything right with the world.

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By Sandra Dallas
St. Martins Griffin

February 2008

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From the publisher:  During World War II, a family finds life turned upside down when the government opens a Japanese internment camp in their small Colorado town. After a young girl is murdered, all eyes (and suspicions) turn to the newcomers, the interlopers, the strangers. This is her town as Rennie Stroud has never seen it before.

She has just turned thirteen and, until this time, life has pretty much been what her father told her it should be: predictable and fair. But now the winds of change are coming and, with them, a shift in her perspective. And Rennie will discover secrets that can destroy even the most sacred things. Part thriller, part historical novel, “Tallgrass” is a riveting exploration of the darkest—and best—parts of the human heart.

From Marya at Out West Books:  This is one of my favorite books by Denver author Sandra Dallas.  Though she never names it, I feel this book is based on Camp Amache, near Granada, which has been much in the news for becoming a National Historic Site in March of this year.  The Amache “Internment” Camp (why don’t we just do as Daniel James Brown, author of Facing the Mountain says, and call them “concentration” camps?) housed nearly 10,000 people on Colorado’s Eastern Plains during World War II. 

Some of those people were teenagers.  Some of those teenagers were bound to mix with townspeople and that is sure to be a recipe for disaster.  This story has murder,  star-crossed love,  inhumanity and…humanity.  To this day, I  haven’t read a book that deals with the relations between townspeople and incarcerated people the way that “Tallgrass” does.   I read this years ago and I still remember every bit of the story.

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To Say Nothing of the Dog

By Connie Willis
Penguin Random House
December 1998

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From the publisher: Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He’s been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop’s bird stump. It’s part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier. But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past. Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right—not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself.

From Didi Herald, bookseller at Out West Books: Colorado author Connie Willis’s delightfully wry humor takes us to a future where Lady Schrapnell, a filthy rich American is funding time travel so that she can rebuild Coventry Cathedral to the way it was when her great-grandmother experienced an epiphany there in front of the Bishop’s Bird Stump. When a time lagged historian from the future is sent to the Victorian era to escape Lady Schrapnell, he finds love and a problem that could rend the fabric of time.  This multiple award winning romp is hilarious and ready for rediscovery.

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