Montana Western English professor experiences prolific year of publishing

UMW News Bureau

Montana Western English professor Alan Weltzien is celebrating several new publishing successes, "The Norman Maclean Reader," "A Father and An Island: Reflections on Loss" and "Thomas Savage, a Forgotten Novelist."

He calls it his “year of miracles.” The final three months of 2008 will see publication of three of his recent works, including two books, “The Norman Maclean Reader” and “A Father and An Island: Reflections on Loss” as well as a magazine article, “Thomas Savage, a Forgotten Novelist.”

Weltzien will participate in this weekend’s Montana Festival of the Book in Missoula and will read from his work at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24. He will also be moderating a panel on “The Norman Maclean Reader” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25. The reader, edited by Weltzien and published by the University of Chicago Press, is due out this week. It is receiving national acclaim including praise from the Wall Street Journal for Weltzien’s “smartly” editing of manuscripts and letters found among Maclean's papers after his death in 1990 as well as hard-to-find essays, lectures and interviews. It includes six pieces never before published, five of which come from Maclean’s unfinished book on Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer as well as letters  the acclaimed author wrote to four friends. One letter was to noted western historian Robert M. Utley whom Maclean developed a friendship with through mail.

Weltzien also had a very personal book published, “A Father and an Island: Reflections on Loss.” The book is centered around the death of his father and the emergence of suburban culture to the Camano Island, Wash. area, the site of the Weltzien family cabin.

His article, “Thomas Savage, A Forgotten Novelist,” will be published in the 2009 winter issue of Montana: The Magazine of Western History. The article addresses the lack of recognition given to the Beaverhead County author. Eight of the 10 novels Savage wrote were based in southwest Montana. Weltzien is currently working with Savage’s daughter, his literary agent, Drumlummon Institue and Riverbend Publishing to republish Savage’s first two novels, including “The Pass,” which was originally published in 1944 and is tentatively scheduled for release in January 2009.

Weltzien will also be featured at a book signing at The Bookstore in Dillon, Mont. Nov. 20. He will give a reading from both books at the University of Montana Western’s “Dances With Words” series in December.