by Caroline Patterson
Caroline Patterson, best known as the editor of the Willa Award–winning anthology, Montana Women Writers: A Geography of the Heart, is also the author of powerful short fiction.
Her new collection, Ballet at the Moose Lodge, showcases sixteen of her extraordinary stories.
In these stories, Patterson explores what it is to grow up female in the American West. As her narratives reveal the lives of travelers, homemakers, radio show announcers, mothers, teachers, dancers, shop clerks, and the subterranean world of girls, they take the reader from a ferry dock in Resurrection Bay, Alaska, to a two-room school in the Bitterroot Valley, from brash, backpacking college students to young new mothers on the edge, from the 1920s to the 1990s. In Ballet at the Moose Lodge, Patterson explores in delicate and searing prose the visible and invisible negotiations women make to navigate lives bound by the rugged western landscape.
Montana novelist Kim Zupan writes, “The emotional breadth of these heart-wrenching yarns is vast, the characters within them fragile yet counterintuitively rugged and complex. Here are stories that explore the darkest recesses of the soul and will resound in your head like the ring of an ax long after you put this wonderful book aside.”
Deirdre McNamer, author of Rima in the Weeds and Red Rover, adds: “[Patterson’s] characters are embedded in the West, physically and emotionally, but their struggles are not local, nor is the experience of reading these lovely, original explorations of their lives.”
Caroline makes her home in Missoula, Montana, with her husband, writer Fred Haefele, and her two college-aged children, Phoebe and Tobin. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she is the executive director of the Missoula Writing Collaborative.