Magazine April 22, 2019, Issue

Joe Wilkins’s Debut Novel Evokes Montana’s Divisions

Wranglers gather around a fire outside Three Forks, Mont., May 3, 2012. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
Fall Back Down When I Die, by Joe Wilkins (Little, Brown, 256 pp., $27)

The novelist Thomas McGuane arrived at a Montana ranch in 1968 by way of a childhood in Michigan, a degree from the Yale School of Drama, and a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. Save for a decade of winters in Key West, he hasn’t left the state since. Regional tensions are blurry to a newcomer, but when you’ve lived on the land long enough, you learn its history and fractures. “Clearly we have to find common ground among the various factions in Montana,” McGuane has said, “though I’ve not found a lot of progress in that direction.” The most dramatic scene

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This article appears as “Ode to a Fractured Land” in the April 22, 2019, print edition of National Review.

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