Author to read from novel today

by Carrie Myers

Author Larry Watson will present a reading of his acclaimed novel, “Montana, 1984” on Thursday, Oct. 6 in Jordan Lecture Hall as part of Simpson’s Poets and Writers Series.

Watson has written five novels, including “In A Dark Time,” “White Crosses,” “Laura,” “Orchard,” and also the chapbook of poetry, “Leaving Dakota.” Watson has been published in more than a dozen foreign editions and has received many awards. His short stories have appeared in the “Los Angeles Times,” “Chicago Sun-Times,” the “Washington Post,” the “Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel” and other periodicals.

“Montana, 1984” was nominated for the first IMPAC Dublin international literary prize.

Melvin Wilk, professor of English, met Watson at this year’s Associated Writer’s Program.

“I wanted to bring him to Simpson because I thought ‘Montana, 1984’ was an outstanding novel, and because Watson is local as in the sense that he lives and teaches in the Midwest,” Wilk said. “He grew up in North Dakota and is a product of Midwestern culture.”

Watson was born and raised in North Dakota and received his BA and MA from the University of North Dakota and his Ph.D. from the creative-writing program at the University of Utah. He taught writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for 25 years. He currently resides in Milwaukee where he is a visiting professor of English at Marquette University.

According to Wilk, the novel deals with important issues on white people’s relations with Native Americans, and is an honest portrayal of how white society has taken advantage of Native Americans. It raises interesting moral issues without sentimentalizing them, Wilk said.

“It portrays clarity and complexity the dilemma of one brother, who is the sheriff of town in which his older brother practices medicine in and is accused of sexually molesting young Native American girls,” Wilk said.

Both of Wilk’s freshmen English 101 classes are reading the book.

Freshman Heather Johnson found the book incredibly enjoyable and is looking forward to hearing Watson read it.

“I want to know when he wrote it and how he came up with this particular story,” Johnson said. “I’ve made my own judgments about what he was trying to convey through his words and I’d like to get his perspective and compare.”

Watson has been a featured writer, teacher and panelist at writer’s conferences in North Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin and France.

“I want students to realize people born in very small towns, such as Rugby, N.D., can accomplish big things like becoming a nationally recognized writer,” Wilk said.