Thursday, May 28, 2009

Amazon's Bonfire of the Vanities Finale

James King won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award yesterday. It was certainly the best novel of the bunch even if I found some of his skill-craft lacking, such as passive constructions and the like, for a man with a recent MFA. But well-deserved nonetheless.

I found the selection process to be corrupted by so-called Vine Voice reviewers who had a vital screening role in a contest in which some members were also contestants. Houston we have a problem. This has an appearance of a conflict of interest. Naturally, Viners don't think so. I'm shocked. My count was four in the semi-final 100, but in the end the fold folded. No amount of gang reviewing of friends excerpts mattered, as a Viner tossed out an an early stage lamented. That can happen when an Amazon editor decides to as can a bad manuscript moved on. Mr. King had only five reader reviews. In the end, Penguin decided who they wanted and why. He's lucky he slipped by. Well done.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Global Warming's First Victims

Are the animals of course. Here, grizzly expert Doug Peacock makes the case for the Yellowstone grizzlies, whose food source, the whitebark pine has succumbed to beetle kill in a vast way, due to warm winters for just seven years. It's a typical house of cards, with one piece falling and others in a textbook domino event.

I had lunch with Doug and his wife Andrea last October in Livingston, a month before I was run out of town by the Evil Editor. Peacock was a good friend of Ed Abbey and the prototype for Abbey's protagonist, George Washington Hayduke in The Monkey Wrench Gang. For me it was meeting a legend, an introduction arranged thanks to ousted Park County Commissioner and chair, Dr. Larry Lahren, the man who also introduced me to Tom McGuane in Missoula at the Montana Book Festival, as "The man who ruined my political career,'Bless him!'" It's a tribute to my journalistic skills and Lahren's great character, that he didn't consider me an enemy. I'll always remember what he did for me.

The bears need to be protected again under the ESA. There aren't that many of them left and the curious matter of most native Montanans being afraid of the bears and wolves and bison be damned. The sad fact is outside of the liberal enclave of Hollywood insiders clustered at Deep Creek in the spectacular Paradise Valley south of Livingston, where the Peacocks live, most regular rancher folks hate wildlife, especially if they can't kill it, eat it, or sell it to tourists. It's a real problem in rural America. Saving wildlife isn't a priority with heartland types.

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