American Copper: A Novel.pdf

American Copper: A Novel.pdf


As Evelynne Lowry, the daughter of a copper baron, comes of age in early 20th century Montana, the lives of horses dovetail with the lives of people and her own quest for womanhood becomes inextricably intertwined with the future of two men who face nearly insurmountable losses—a lonely bull rider named Zion from the Montana highline, and a Cheyenne team roper named William Black Kettle, the descendant of peace chiefs.

An epic that runs from the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 to the ore and industry of the 1930s, American Copper is a novel not only about America’s hidden desire for regeneration through violence but about the ultimate cost of forgiveness and the demands of atonement. It also explores the genocidal colonization of the Cheyenne, the rise of big copper, and the unrelenting ascent of dominant culture. Evelynne’s story is a poignant elegy to horses, cowboys both native and euro-american, the stubbornness of racism, and the entanglements of modern humanity during the first half of the twentieth century. Set against the wide plains and soaring mountainscapes of Montana, this is the American West re-envisioned, imbued with unconditional violence, but also sweet, sweet love.

“Brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx . . . lyrical, prophetic, brutal yet ultimately hopeful.” — Dave Eggers

“Tough, poetic, and beautiful.” -- Sherman Alexie

“Every once in a while a book falls into your hands that is so beautifully written, deeply affecting, and powerful that it burrows into your heart and makes a lasting place there. "American Copper" is that book. Shann Ray's novel is a triumph; an ode to the majesty of the early 20th century Montana landscape, a tender evocation of the passions and sorrows of its people, and a piercing look at the ravages of racism, greed, and violence. Ultimately, this book's power lies in its characters, all of whom I came to care deeply about, worry over, and wish for as one by one they came to life on the page. A stunning portrayal of the scope of the human spirit, and the many paths to grace.” -Laurie Paus, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

“American Copper is a spacious and stirring book that arcs itself across the dark skies of the West. Centered on Evelynne Lowry, privileged daughter of an insatiable copper king, the novel divines the deepest sources of American tragedy—the implacability of wealth, the heartlessness of colonialism, the rage of racial injustice. Shann Ray’s beautiful prose blends the lyrical yearning of James Welch with the historic sweep of Philipp Meyer to create an epic tale anchored in bitter loss and annealed by powerful love.” --Alyson Hagy

"This grave, unusual novel unfolds with a beautiful evenhandedness, balancing the outer world and the inner life, Cheyenne and white experiences of early 20th-century Montana. Ray’s feel for the heart and soul of Montana and its people—all its people—graces every page. - Andrea Barrett, author of Archangel and The Air We Breathe.

“An expansive and luminous tale of the American West told through crystalline prose. American Copper ushers Shann Ray into the company of Montana's finest writers. It's a read as compelling as Harrison's masterwork Legends of the Fall and Kittredge's Willow Field. Heartbreaking and heart pounding and not to be missed.” -- Debra Magpie Earling

Shann Ray grew up in Montana, played college basketball at Montana State University and Pepperdine University and professional basketball in Germany. Among other places, his work has appeared in the Best New Poets and The Better of McSweeney’s anthologies, and been selected as notable in the Best American Nonrequired Reading and Best of the West, and as a finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur Award. He now lives with his wife and three daughters in Spokane, Washington where he teaches leadership and forgiveness studies at Gonzaga University. American Copper is his debut novel.

Ray’s first book, a story collection entitled American Masculine, published by Graywolf as Winner of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize, was named by Esquire as one of Three Books Every Man Should Read, and selected by Kirkus as a Best Book, Best Short Story Collection, and Editor’s Choice selection. It won an American Book Award, the High Plains Book Award for Best First Book and Best Short Story Collection. The author received an NEA Fellowship in Creative Writing in 2012.


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