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by Shann Ray

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Unbridled Books
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5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)


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 steer wrestler 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ray’s elegiac debut novel, set in 1923, follows poet Evelynne Lowry as she tries to shrug off the influence of her brutal, possessive copper baron father, Josef Lowry, by accompanying her brother, Tomas, a veteran of World War I, to a job working on the railroad in northern Montana. But when an accident forces her to return to her father’s home in Butte, Evelynne’s solitary existence is challenged by two different men. William Black Kettle, whose great-great-grandfather was a Cheyenne peace chief killed at the Sand Creek Massacre, is a rodeo roper whose grace and long black hair attract Evelynne. Suitor number two, Zion, is a giant of a man hired to break in her new horse. Zion’s quiet strength is intoxicating to Evelynne, but he quits her, while William returns to the rodeo circuit and begins a correspondence with Evelynne, who risks her father’s wrath in order to be with him. Ray has written a novel about Montana in the first three decades of the 20th century, caught between old and new ways. The story is melodramatic, with Josef resembling a villain out of a silent movie, and the characters frustratingly drift in and out of the story, which ends on an anticlimactic note many readers may find unsatisfying. Agent: Emily Forland, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Nov.)

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