He beautifully captures the quirkiness, restlessness and kindness and sometimes small-mindedness that emerge when a community is put under the microscope. Haruf captures the independence and isolation that are part of both the Colorado landscape and human-scape. He has justifiably been touted as one of the most talented modern-day Colorado novelists, with a cult following.
Haruf died in Salida in Frank Waters, born in Colorado Springs in , published 28 books. He wrote for Hollywood, worked as a publicist for the Atomic Energy Commission, and created some of the most memorable novels about the southwest.
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Waters is best known for his almost spiritual, semi-mystic novels set in northern New Mexico. A number of Colorado novelists have addressed the treatment of Native Americans and the consequences of Manifest Destiny practices. Helen Hunt Jackson came to Colorado in the s, seeking a higher elevation for chronic health problems. She loved to travel the state and throughout the West.
Jackson was shocked at how Native Americans were treated in Colorado. She deplored what happened at the Sand Creek Massacre, and became a self-designated Harriet Beecher Stowe, crusading for the rights of dispossessed Native Americans. She was an unmistakably gifted storyteller and a Coloradan with a conscience.
Margaret Coel, born in Denver and a resident of Boulder, is another gifted writer of stories about the trials and challenges faced by Native Americans. Coel helps capture our region and those whose ancestors were here in the Colorado Territory long before white people ever heard of the area. Colorado College professor of English David Mason is a noted poet and essayist. Mason writes with voice and imagination about the immigrant miners who tried in vain to organize for decent treatment. David had relatives who had lived in nearby Trinidad, and he had grown up hearing the Ludlow story.
He felt compelled to revisit this place and these troubling events, and was inspired to imagine what it was like to be there, helpless and up against the likes of the wealthy Rockefellers and their allies. Mason won the Colorado Book Award for this novel. Former U. Hart has authored or co-authored several novels, including under the pseudonym John Blackthorn two about Cuba.
The story is a fictionalized account of the long-drawn-out political negotiations and collaborations involved in the Animas-LaPlata water project, which Hart and his staff were heavily involved in. The water war Hart describes divides Durango. Hart captures the passion that erupted over this battle. His elegy to Sheridan, readers may conclude, may tell you a lot about Hart and the citizen-politician he believed himself to be.
His description of how the Utes were mistreated, traditionally a sore subject in the history of Colorado, is especially poignant.
Denver-based author Peter Heller has won acclaim in recent years for several novels. He spends his time reading poetry, fly-fishing, and painting. Stegner describes his fishing spots with love and sensitive, lyrical passages. But when Stegner encounters an unsavory hunter brutalizing a mare, his anger erupts and he bludgeons the man to death. The linkage between creativity and violence fascinates the art world. Suddenly, this thriller takes on symbolic overtones, about the beauty of nature, the violence of man and suggestions for how one can reclaim integrity. He came to Denver in his twenties and worked his way up to becoming a police reporter for The Denver Post in the s.
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He also was an avid book collector, bookstore owner on East Colfax , and professional rare book trader. Much of this novel describes ruthless newspaper competition in what was a four-newspaper town. It also recalls the ugly politics and practices of the Klan, which had taken over the statehouse and city hall, and had many members in the judiciary and major businesses.
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Dunning earned literary acclaim for several mystery novels, also based in Denver, but focused on book-selling rather than reporting. Local bars, hotels and early LoDo hangouts are vividly depicted. These are stories of urban contemporary Denver, of its hidden book-trading business, and the quirky characters who inhabit this part of the city. Dunning is a master storyteller.
His mysteries are eye-opening and delightful.
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Russell Martin is another noted Colorado fiction and non-fiction writer. William hesitates when she stretches out her long leg and holds her foot in the air above his knee, and then, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, he takes her foot in his hands and rubs the rough sole of her foot with his thumbs, carefully avoiding the water-filled blisters on the ball of her foot. The woman moans a little when William hurts her accidentally.
The woman has put her boots back on and is sitting between William and Licia at the table. William is drinking the wine again and talking volubly about his lifelong passion for British vintage sports cars. The woman is interested in what he is saying. She tells him she knows how to service a 4x4, and she nods her head when he talks about straight sixes and V8s.
But Licia wants to shout at him, to tell him that no one gives a damn about his useless knowledge, his relentless competencies. She pitches the dregs of her tea into his face. Wet leaves slide like fat ants down the prominences of his cheekbones.
The woman stands up and walks to the French doors. I lost me first when I was seventeen. A boy. Me husband bet me a week later for the first time. A few months later I was in the club again. Seven times it happened before I left. Me father bet me after that. In the car park of the Bush hotel. Nearly finished me with the scelpin he gev me with the electric leads. That was Daddy.
I stays east since. West is too chancy. A cousin might see you, you know. William is smoking a cigarette and humming to himself. He moves the glowing tip in little circles above the glass ashtray. They have let the garden go to ruin. William goes back into the house. Below the decking, the flat, grey earth of the flowerless centre bed is a trough of silvery moonlight. Suddenly Licia wishes she believed in ghosts. Stephen, my love, I wish I could picture you, floating above us, looking down on the little night scene we have made here with this strange woman.
What would you make of us? Licia clenches her jaw until her teeth hurt. If Stephen were alive he would at least know her name. The woman grabs his wrist and pats out the burning pages on the table.