2020 Montana Book Award Honor Book
“(These) stories should be required reading.” -Montana Book Award Committee
Tom “Harp” Harpole was a horse logger working from remote mountain camps and living in wall tents until an accident suggested a change of lifestyle. He took to his other avocation – writing, and studied abroad in Ireland. He began publishing stories in periodicals such as Smithsonian Air & Space, Sports Illustrated, Crocodil, Montana Quarterly, Whitefish Review, and more. In 1986 his story “The Last of Butch” (Faber & Faber, London) was selected as The Best Short Story in the British Isles. His work has been short-listed for the National Magazine Award twice, and translated into six languages. He has been a guest reader on NPR more than a dozen times. Harpole writes in a voice that uses his natural wit and humor to shed light on a life of stories that bring readers to the edge of danger. “Tom Harpole is what you might call a thinking man’s Evel Knievel,” - Aaron Parrett, MT Senior News.
Certain magazines that assigned Harp feature articles knew early on that he would try anything that involved physical/emotional risks. He regarded himself as a Survivor’s Euphoria aficionado. His willingness and perspective on dalliances with danger range from an N.F.L. record, to horse logging, to skydiving with Russian cosmonauts, to getting a black bear stoned, to his compassion as a volunteer EMT in rural Montana, to protesting Gorbachev in 1990, to driving ice roads above the Arctic circle, and more. This book is a collection of sixteen of his most popular stories.
“These tales will make you marvel, maybe wipe a tear, and quite likely blow some coffee out your nose. Harpole was lucky enough to survive his life and that makes us lucky, too.” - Scott McMillion, editor of Montana Quarterly magazine and author of Mark of the Grizzly
“It's one thing to take incredible risks with one's life and live to tell the tale, but something else entirely to have the skill to share those adventures in an interesting way. In this breathtaking collection of essays, Harpole proves that he is a gifted storyteller. Just don't try any of this at home.” – Chris La Tray, author of One-Sentence Journal
“With wistfulness and wit, Harpole shares tales of Alaska, the former Soviet Union, small town Montana and beyond. In the self-effacing tradition of Tim Cahill's work, his adventures, sometimes unanticipated, are always told with a rough and ready heart.” - Betsy Gaines Quammen, PhD, author of American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God & Public Lands in the West
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