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Whitefish Review 18: Growing Up & Getting Older
Whitefish Review 18: Growing Up & Getting Older
Whitefish Review 18: Growing Up & Getting Older
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Whitefish Review 18: Growing Up & Getting Older

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Whitefish Review is a non-profit journal publishing the literature, art, and photography of mountain culture. As a recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation created for the public good, it is supported by generous donations, grants, and subscriptions.

Issue #18 features a conversation with part time Montana resident, David Letterman in his most in-depth interview since ending his 33-year Late Show career. Letterman talks with founding editor Brian Schott about retirement, raising his son, his love of Montana, his own childhood, and growing a wildman beard.

Past issues have featured David James Duncan, William Kittredge, John Irving, Tom Brokaw, Terry Tempest Williams, and many other of the finest thinkers and writers of the modern day.
Release dateJun 6, 2016
Whitefish Review 18: Growing Up & Getting Older
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    Whitefish Review 18 - Whitefish Review

    Copyright 2015 Whitefish Review

    All Rights Reserved

    Be good. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission of the copyright owner unless such copying is expressly permitted by federal copyright law. Whitefish Review is not authorized to grant permissions for further uses of copyrighted selections printed in this book without the permission of their owners. Permissions must be obtained from the individual copyright owners as identified herein. Address requests for permission to make copies to Whitefish Review, 708 Lupfer Ave., Whitefish, MT 59937 or email editor@whitefishreview.org.

    Visit our web site at www.WhitefishReview.org.

    Printed at Thomas Printing, Kalispell, Montana, USA

    ISBN # 978-1-4835729-5-6

    Cover: Daybreakers, copyright 2015 by Tom Chambers, photomontage courtesy Gilman Contemporary Back cover: Disappearing Trees, copyright 2014 by Ansley West Rivers

    Interspecies Communication, copyright 1985 by Gerald Askevold.

    Blend No. 8, copyright 2015 by Daniel R. Ball.

    The Blue Tree, copyright 2015 by Rick Bass.

    Board, copyright 2014 by Alex Beck.

    Moving Back to Town, copyright 2015 by Margene Berry.

    Dream of Total Control, copyright 2012 by Paul Collins.

    Part D, copyright 2015 by Pamela DeTuncq.

    MYSZ, copyright 2015 by donnarkevic.

    Gh0st L1fe — Photobomb (995), copyright 2010 by Allison Reilly and Miguel Farias.

    1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser SL Station Wagon, copyright 2015 by Jason Forrest.

    The Empty House, copyright 2015 by Marshall Flowers.

    Paris Street Performer, copyright 2014 by Tim H. Frazier.

    The Time Machine, copyright 2015 by Darrell Gray.

    Diamond Dust, copyright 2015 by Erin Halcomb.

    Day 137, copyright 2013 by Kelly Hartman.

    The Weather Station, copyright 2015 by Kristen Hewitt.

    The Fainting Couch, copyright 2015 by Nathan Hogan.

    The Owl, copyright 2015 by Juliet Hubbell.

    7:41 a.m., copyright 2010 by Elise Irving.

    Behavioral Automatism, copyright 2012 by Jason Jägel.

    We take turns dropping things, copyright 2015 by Rick Kempa.

    33rd Street, copyright 2015 by Laura Kiselevach.

    Emptying the Nest, copyright 2014 by Melissa Madsen.

    Cat’s Eye, copyright 2015 by Cassie Nelson.

    The Sleep of Reason 3: Catch and Release, copyright 2009 by Maria Porges.

    Love Machine, copyright 2015 by Horatio R. Potter.

    My Arrhythmia, copyright 2015 by Emily Ransdell.

    My Childhood Seemed Very Dangerous, copyright 2014 by Kathy Rudin.

    The Magic Baseball, copyright 2015 by Ben Sachrison.

    Getting to the Heart of David Letterman, copyright 2015 by Brian Schott.

    Hospice Hands, copyright 2015 by Beverly Richards Schulz.

    The Onion Harvest, copyright 2015 by Caroline Stephens.

    Circle, Montana copyright 2015 by Carter G. Walker.

    Sawadee Ka, Sawadee Krap, copyright 2015 by Sarah Ward.

    Good, copyright 2015 by Jay Woodruff.

    Werbie, copyright 2008 by Julia Shirar.

    Escape Literature, copyright 2002 by Sarah Swett.

    Village Grocer, copyright 2015 by Melanie Viets.

    Whitefish Review, Volume 9, Issue 2

    Editor-in-Chief & Publisher

    Brian Schott

    Guest Editor #18

    Rick Bass

    Managing Editors

    Ryan Friel · Mike Powers

    Tinker Bell

    Lyndsay Schott

    Creative Director

    Ian Griffiths

    Art Editors

    Adam Blue · Monica Pastor

    Fiction Editor

    Matt Holloway

    Nonfiction Editor

    Cristina Eisenberg

    Poetry Editor

    Lowell Jaeger

    Associate Editors

    Rita Braun · Sarah Ericson · Jeff Giles · Tom Haines · Ben Polley

    Editorial Board

    Lowry Bass · Mieka Carey · Cassandra Dreher Scott Dreher · Heather Hansman · Allison Linville Emily Lorentzen · Riley Polumbus · Sara Ream · Katie Yale

    Friends of the Whitefish Review

    This journal you are holding is made possible by these good people who have helped us publish new and emerging authors and artists alongside some of the best in the nation. Tax-deductible donations go directly to the publishing costs of the journal, as well as to support local literary events. Thank you for helping us move mountains.

    —Whitefish Review editors

    Advisor Supporters

    Scott Dreher, Cristina & Steve Eisenberg, AGL Foundation

    Patron Donors

    Broussard Charitable Foundation

    Visionary Donors

    Sam & Julie Baldridge, Dick & Sandra Boyce, Woody & Betsy Cox/Good Medicine Lodge, Michael & Barbara Jenson, Kramer Family Fund of Whitefish Community Foundation, Humanities Montana, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Montana Arts Council, Perk Perkins-Perkins Charitable Fund, Tom & Teresa Quinn Fund of the Whitefish Community Foundation, James H. Roache Trust-In Memory of Anthony J. Route, Michael FitzGerald/Submittable. com, Jed Steele, The Whitefish Community Foundation’s Community Grant Fund.

    Wind Sponsors

    Roger Barber & Mary Vanbuskirk, John and Anne Collins, Greta Friel, Dick and Cheryl Gordon, Mark and Hilary Haefele, Paul & Eddie’s, Amy Schott and Martin Weiderman, Min Shafer/ Valley Earthscapes

    Mountain Sponsors

    Chris Anderson & Amy Kiley, James Clarke, Craig & Pattie Apregan, Summerfield Baldridge, Jason Barnes, Bayne Family Fund at WCF, Diane Conradi, Matt and Corrie Holloway, John and Barbara Schott, David Stephens /Whitefish Lake Services, Konrad and Kristen Binder, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Adora & Dan Fulkerson, Doug and Nan Reed, Lisa Jones and Mike McClellan, Karen Woodward

    River Sponsors

    Rebecca Briber, Scot Blair, Dorothy Burris, Mary Dorman, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Five Star Rentals of Montana, Phyllis Franklin, Robert Friel, Alan Elm, Jeff Giles, Barbara Hartigan, Fred and Sarah Jones, Emily Lorentzen, John Muhlfeld and Stephanie Sunshine, Christina and Billy O’Donnel/ RIDGE Mountain Academy, Michael and Pam Powers, The Cuisine Machine, Brett Thuma, Michael & Michele Mullen, Sarah Pohl—In Memory of John Pohl, Elizabeth Kavanagh, Debbie & Steve Anderson, Meliss & Charles Clark, Asta Bowen, Patricia & Roger Moore, Christen Powers, Heidi Knippa, Will and Leslie Hunt

    Rock Sponsors

    Rita Braun, Kim & Justin Brubaker, Meliss B Clark, Sarah and Dave Ericson, Lael and Darrell Gray, Grace R. Griffiths, Tom Haines, Tyler Lewis, Precious McKenzie, Crissie McMullan, Chérie Newman, Rick and Bish Robbins, Peter Serchuk, Eirlys Vanderhoff, Dick Dorworth, Robert Akey, Greg & Angie Burger, Cassandra Dreher, Brigid Fray, Linda and David Grady, Paula Greenstein, Heather Hansman, Kimberly Hurtle, Kandahar, The Lodge at Big Mountain, John & Kathi Hartlieb, Tricia Knoll, Stephen Kosnar, David and Michelle Noftsinger, Howie Nordstrom, Bink Owen, Erick & Jen Robbins, Shirley Rorvik, Mark Schott & Elna Goron, Loren Taylor, Monda Van Hollebeke, Kathleen Yale, Adam & Jenny Blue, Tammie Lee, Michelle & Peter Edland/ The Walking Man Frame Shop

    Great Northern Sponsors

    Francine Roston, Nancy Boutilier, Allison Linville, Michelle Luff, Ron McFarland, Keith Moul, George Northrup, Benjamin Polley, Rob Akey, Ernest Hebert, Bryan Anderson, Jen Dolan, Brendan Friel, Mary Friel, Laurel Grady, Tony & Kristi Veseth, Dan Virkstis, Amy & Tom Kennedy, Carol & Michael Ward, Chris Miller, Kevin Arnold, Christi Stanwood


    VOLUME 9, ISSUE 2 • WINTER 2015/2016


    Growing Up and Getting Older #18


    The Blue Tree (fiction)


    The Owl (Montana Prize for Fiction winner)


    The Fainting Couch (fiction)


    Village Grocer (essay)


    Love Machine (fiction)


    Blend No. 8 (fiction)


    MYSZ (poetry)


    The Empty House (fiction)


    Cat’s Eye (nonfiction)


    The Onion Harvest (fiction)


    My Arrhythmia (poetry)


    The Magic Baseball (essay)


    Interspecies Communication (photography)




    Board (art)


    Behavioral Automatism (art)


    Part D (sculpture)


    The Time Machine (sculpture)


    Dream of Total Control (porcelain)


    Hospice Hands (photography)


    7:41 a. m. (photography)


    Gh0st L1fe — Photobomb (995) (photography)


    Emptying the Nest (digital collage)


    Paris Street Performer (photography)


    The Sleep of Reason 3: Catch & Release (graphite on paper)


    My Childhood Seemed Very Dangerous (art)


    Day 137 (photography)


    Escape Literature (tapestry)


    Werbie (art)


    33rd Street (photography)


    Sawadee-ka, Sawadee-krap (essay)


    We take turns dropping things (poetry)


    Diamond Dust (nonfiction)


    The Weather Station (essay)


    Circle, Montana (fiction)


    Moving Back to Town (poetry)


    1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser SL Station Wagon (essay)


    Good (fiction)


    Getting to the Heart of David Letterman (interview)


    Growing Up and Getting Older #18

    Intro: Rick Bass & Brian Schott

    I’ve never understood the switch that kicks on in some of us where, upon reading a great book or a great story, we decide we want to be writers also, not simply readers. Shouldn’t a great story just inspire you to read still more? What mysterious synapse is crossed, what flash of electricity in the night? The logic of this leap is not apparent to me.

    It is with similar curiosity that I consider my position of being squarely in the middle of middle age. Hell, maybe I’m even deep enough into it—how did it get here so fast?—to feel the first faint drafts of old age.

    In such terrain, one might think the expected response would be to push on into that bottleneck with renewed commitment and greater efficiency; to try one’s best to finish the projects that will comprise one’s life. And I am feeling a little of that—pushing hard, with renewed commitment, toward the end—though it’s hard for me to break also my old habits of loving leisure, and hungering for the elusive quality of timelessness that’s voiced so well by Mary Oliver in her poem, The Summer Dayhow to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields…

    Glancing at the calendar, one tries to quicken one’s pace, but— shocker!—finds that one’s endurance and stamina may be diminishing. A tendril of concern stirs. Not panic, but concern: awareness.

    So why, then, given this condition, now on the backside of the mountain, does one find one’s self wanting to teach more, and mentor more? It’s fine and noble to pass on tricks of the trade, values and aesthetics, into those who will carry such things like a fire in the horn after you’ve gone on past. But what continues to puzzle me is the seemingly gross inefficiency of laboring with the prose of beginning writers, rather than my own.

    Maybe, I wonder, this impulse has an element of loneliness to it. Perhaps, after working in furious solitude for so long, the spirit finally looks up and thinks, wonders, What is it like to work with another? To not carry the weight of creation all on one’s own shoulders, but to share a process that can be as taxing as it is stimulating. Paying attention to this odd appetite, I have begun teaching a couple of workshops each year—one in Paradise Valley, the other in the Yaak Valley—a literary boot camp—where I spend time on others’ work, not just mine.

    Again, at one level—the level of the self—it does not make full sense, at this late date. But I think part of it might also be a question of manners. As you have been helped along the way by so many others, it is only right then to pay it forward.

    And, in theory, after a while—maybe a long while—you become a little smarter: after all the decades, you’ve developed a keener eye for talent, and an eye also for the endurance and work ethic of younger writers: the two things that trump talent. And when you see all three qualities twined, then you get excited.

    It’s good that you can still get excited. It’s good that you still love what you do for a living, and as a calling.

    As a young writer, I always heard that good writing would find a home. I believed it as an article of faith back then, and I know it to be true through seeing the experience of others, now. I won’t waste anyone’s time decrying the diminished state of the publishing industry, and indeed, with the valiant burning dream of Whitefish Review, there is, locally at least, no diminishment at all, only continued growth and excellence. These are not the good old days. This is certainly not the golden era of literary magazines; but don’t tell that to Whitefish Review and its many supporters.

    I wish I had more time. This issue is dense with the best of the manuscripts I have come across in the last ten or so years of teaching, as well as the finest of those submitted for our themed issue, the annual fiction contest, and the editorial board’s mission to seek out fresh, young talent. Has the time I’ve spent working with these individual writers, in places like Bozeman, Kentucky, Missoula, Vermont, Oregon, and the coast of Maine, been worth it—hours, days, weeks, years spent away from sitting with my own head tipped to the page? On the surface of things, again it would seem to make no sense. But there is much about writing and art that seems and well may be illogical; a necessary part of a journey no less mysterious than the path of aging.

    For my own part in this gig, I find each day sweeter and more amazing than even the ones that have preceded; and I hope that same journey of delight, amazement, and mystery is replicated for the readers of the stories, essays, and poems collected here.

    In addition to the commitment to pair the work of up-and-coming young (teen-age) writers with that of some of the most established in the country, Whitefish Review is dedicated to providing a stimulating interview in each issue, in conversation with the most influential artists, writers, athletes and entertainers of the day. This issue is no different, when founding editor and publisher Brian Schott speaks with Montanan David Letterman, formerly of Indiana and New York, about all manner of things, including courage, parenting, the Rocky Mountain Front as spiritual center of America, and living a life of deeper meaning, here in the home stretch.

    Cassie Nelson’s portrait of mortality in Cat’s Eye is crystalline and precise, mysterious yet natural: another great essay that’s been yielded up by the provenance of Montana. In Marshall Flowers’ The Empty House, an elderly widow runs afoul of a two-bit confidence man in an encounter as sad and harrowing as one of Flannery O’ Connor’s. Carter Wallace’s Circle, Montana is destined to become a Montana classic; her rendering of contemporary reservation life is beautifully illuminated, as casually perfect as the prose of James Welch’s; one is barely even aware that one is reading, and is instead inhabited by the sensation of living. In my book, there’s no higher goal or accomplishment, in literature.

    Caroline Stephens’ extended metaphor of rot, waste, and disappointment is told with an admirable lack of sentimentality in the Onion Harvest; one is reminded of the better, cleaner, less self-aware work of Hemingway, while Dan Ball’s Blend No. 8 is splendidly experimental and happy. As a traditionalist, I’m surprised by my affinity for this strange little tale. It’s good for me, in revisiting some of my old students’ favorites, to remember that not all of my work as a teacher has involved reading and commenting upon zombies, vampires, Harry Potter spin-offs, or amalgamations of the three genres.

    Erin Halcomb’s essay, Diamond Dust, pays beautiful homage to her mother and to the burning of both women’s values and insistence upon a world in which the surface appearance of things matters not a whit; instead, what is valued and beautiful is instead the coda, the core, below. Kristen Hewitt submitted a sweet piece not about parenting but about, well, being a daughter, and global warming, and a lot of other things, in its economical two-and-a-half pages. Melanie Viet’s sharp three-page vignette of a village gossip is wonderfully horrifying—who among us has not known this person?—and Jason Forrest’s piece about a blue-hearted Oldsmobile strikes a particular chord with me, having just lost my 1990 Subaru of 400,000-plus miles not to failure of heart but the one-in-amillion chance of a giant spruce falling on it and crushing it flatter than a dime. I never expected her to go out that way.

    A word about how Whitefish Review works. Brian and Lyndsay have assembled a robust committee of volunteers who screen all literature and art submissions. These stalwarts perform the most thankless labors, reading every word on every one of the tens of thousands of pages that come fluttering through the computer, and viewing every image: making recommendations, sharing long and complicated multi-party conference calls all through the night. Filtering, making hard choices. Lowell Jaeger and his readers passed on to me the wonderful poetry of Emily Ransdell, Rick Kempa, Margene Berry, and donnarkevic; and Adam Blue, Monica Pastor, Ian Griffiths and the art committee likewise sent dozens of images, where the selection process was likewise communal. We’re grateful for the paintings and illustrations herein—you can read more about each of the 16 selections of art and photography in their artist’s statements. I am also moved deeply by the elegiac Disappearing Trees back cover by Ansley West Rivers, and find Tom Chambers’ stunning cover Daybreakers suitably terrifying. What is the woman in the red dress saying? Come with me, my little pretties? Or: I am responsible for all small beautiful things? Or both?

    Our feverishly durable and passionate reading committees, led by Cristina Eisenberg, Ryan Friel, Matt Holloway, and Mike Powers not only read hundreds of fiction and nonfiction submissions, they also selected and helped edit the work of two young writers included in this issue, a longstanding tradition of the journal. The editorial board found two pieces from our young/teen writers: Ben Sachrison’s sweet and to-thepoint The Magic Baseball, as well as an essay by Sarah Ward, who was first published in these pages at age 12.

    Will the two teen writers become Montana or national literary household names some day, or reach the level of excellence of the older (but not old!) writers gathered here? That’s up to them. Whitefish Review is committed to giving them an opportunity. What they do with that opportunity again has far more to do with heart—with burning—than with talent.

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