Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, staff from Out West Books in Grand Junction recommend “The Meadow,” “Eclipse” and “The Dog Stars.”

The Dog Stars

By Peter Heller
Vintage Books
May 2013


From the publisher:

Hig’s wife is gone, his friends are dead, and he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper, and a mercurial, gun-toting misanthrope named Bangley.

But when a random transmission beams through the radio of his 1956 Cessna, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life exists outside their tightly controlled perimeter. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return and follows its static-broken trail, only to find something that is both better and worse than anything he could ever hope for.

From  Marya Johnston, Owner,  Out West Books: Denver author Peter Heller’s dystopian novel takes place in Colorado and, after Hig takes off to find the source of the transmission, western Colorado. Heller’s descriptions of the landscape are excellent and worth the read for that alone, as far as I’m concerned.  This book is reminiscent of “On the Beach” by Nevil Shute, one of my favorite books of all time, but the locale for the Dog Stars is more fun…at least for those of us in this part of the world.


By Dalton Trumbo
Echo Point Books
February 2018


From the publisher: In this fascinating novel by award-winning Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the town of Shale City is the setting for a scathing examination of excess in the American West. Filled with lively characters, vivid description, and wry dialogue, this fast-paced story traces the rise and fall of John Abbott, a wealthy local businessman and town patriarch in the 1920s and 1930s. As a generous philanthropist, Abbott was heralded as a hero by the townspeople when times were good. But as the stock market crashes and the Great Depression hits, the town turns upon Abbott when his fortunes fade. Exposed is the darker side of small-town life.

From Marya Johnston, Owner, Out West Books:  This book, originally published in 1935 by Grand Junction’s own Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter of “Exodus,” “Spartacus” and “Roman Holiday,” is a thinly veiled expose on the town.  This long out-of-print book has been republished with proceeds directed to the Mesa County Library. 

Older editions of this book were hard to find as the inhabitants of Grand Junction were scandalized by the depiction of actual townspeople.  New editions of the book have a list inside the cover of characters in the story alongside the names of the real person they were based on…including some very unflattering characteristics. No wonder the people of Grand Junction were upset!  If you’ve ever lived in a small town, this book will reinforce the notion that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Trumbo’s book, “Johnny Got His Gun,” was one of the first anti-war books and won the National Book Award in 1939.  It, too, references Colorado.

The Meadow

By James Galvin
April 1993


From the publisher: In discrete disclosures joined with the intricacy of a spider’s web, James Galvin depicts the hundred-year history of a meadow in the arid mountains of the Colorado/Wyoming border. Galvin describes the seasons, the weather, the wildlife, and the few people who do not possess but are themselves possessed by this terrain. In so doing he reveals an experience that is part of our heritage and mythology. For Lyle, Ray, Clara, and App, the struggle to survive on an independent family ranch is a series of blameless failures and unacclaimed successes that illuminate the Western character. “The Meadow” evokes a sense of place that can be achieved only by someone who knows it intimately. 

From Marya Johnston, Owner, Out West Books: “The Meadow” should be on every Coloradan’s bookshelf.  It’s perfectly beautiful and descriptive prose make it obvious that Galvin is more known for his poetry… but when he writes a book, it’s a stunner.  

“The real world goes like this: The Neversummer Mountains like a jumble of broken glass.  Snowfields weep slowly down.  Chambers Lake, ringed by trees, gratefully catches the drip in its tin cup, and gives the mountains their own reflection in return.  This is the real world, indifferent, unburdened.” 

You will savor every page of this story of a family’s struggle to hold on to their ranch.  “The history of the meadow goes like this:  No one owns it, no one ever will.”  The land is changing, the people are changing and James Galvin is there for it. 


Out West Books

533 Main St., Grand Junction


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

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