The Billings Outpost

Conduct energy audit


Don’t let energy inefficiencies affect your home’s comfort or utility usage.This fall, why not consider making needed improvements in your home to help increase energy efficiency and save big in the long run?

Here is a short checklist for a DIY home energy audit.

• Seal Air Leaks: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing air leaks around the house can save up to 30 percent of energy costs annually.

To find leaks, conduct a thorough visual inspection for gaps and cracks by baseboards, where the walls and ceiling meet, around door frames, and near cable and phone line wall plates.

Spot a gap? Caulk it. Use painter’s tape for a cleaner job. Hold the caulking gun at an angle for best results, and apply in a continuous stream.

Improve insulation around windows and doors with weather-stripping. Measure the gap you need to fill to identify the width of weather-stripping needed and determine whether you should apply it from the inside or outside.

Before starting, read the package instructions to ensure you’re using the right materials. Cut to size and install.

Lastly, check if your fireplace flue is open. If so, close it when not in use for additional savings.

• Make Smart Upgrades: One quick way to check your windows for inefficiencies is to look for condensation, frost and other moisture.

The Department of Energy also recommends closing your windows on a dollar bill. If you can easily pull the bill out, the window might be losing substantial energy and may require repair or replacement.

Additionally, ENERGY STAR reports that homeowners who choose windows that have earned the ENERGY STAR save an average $101-$538 a year when replacing single-pane windows.

If it’s time for an upgrade, look for ENERGY STAR qualified windows that offer innovative technologies and improve energy efficiency.

• Change Behavior: Do an audit of not only your home’s features, but of the occupants as well. From switching to cold water laundry cycles to taking advantage of sunlight for warmth and light — modifications of energy and cost-saving resources don’t need to be a sacrifice.

To save energy, improve the comfort of your home and do your part to be more environmentally conscientious, conduct a do-it-yourself energy audit. You’ll likely discover many areas in your home that should be improved.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 23:34

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LED bulbs paying off


The use of LED bulbs in homes is on the rise nationwide, and with good reason. Not only are they more energy efficient than their traditional counterparts, LEDs are becoming more affordable upfront.

Indeed, of the United States’ four billion residential light bulb sockets, less than 10 percent are filled with LED lighting; but by 2020, more than 50 percent will be LED, according to industry estimates. This year alone, the consumer lighting market is anticipated to more than double with LED, while traditional CFL bulb usage is expected to decrease.

LED is not a new technology and has been on the market for years. So what is driving this sudden consumer shift? New light bulb designs are making these cost-efficient bulbs more convenient, attractive and affordable. In fact, certain designs retail as low as under $10 for a three-pack of bulbs.

For example, GE Lighting’s new Bright Stik bulb’s slender, sleek design is offered both in soft white and daylight, and fits in more sockets and fixtures compared to its general purpose CFL bulb counterpart. It has a rated life of 15,000 hours and should last nearly 14 years, at a cost of 10 cents per month based on three hours of operation daily and 11 cents per kilowatt hour.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 23:29

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Easy ways to clean kitchen


The kitchen is the perfect place for family time, entertaining and socializing. With all this activity, it’s bound to get a little disorganized. What’s more, the kitchen is actually listed as the “germiest” area in the home, according to a study by NSF International (the National Sanitation Foundation).

Have no fear! Simple solutions can combat common kitchen cleaning conundrums.

• A Messy Pantry: It’s no secret that many homeowners keep pantry doors shut for a reason — it can get a little chaotic inside.

Kick the clutter. If an item has been in the pantry for three months or more, you likely won’t use it. Toss expired items and donate any non-perishables you aren’t going to use.

Next, wipe down pantry shelves to remove dust and crumbs from hard-to-reach corners. Before restocking shelves, lay down a non-adhesive shelf liner to protect newly cleaned shelves.

• Refrigerator Leaks: Between fresh produce, dairy, meat and leftovers, there’s a lot going on inside a fridge. Make it a habit every few months to wash the inside of your refrigerator, even the shelves and drawers (a location where many stubborn spills tend to be forgotten). A natural cleaning solution, like Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner is best for this area in the kitchen. It’s safe to use on a variety of surfaces throughout the kitchen and it’s 98 percent naturally derived, so you can be confident that it won’t leave behind harsh chemical fumes or residue.

• Dirty, Smelly Sponges: Sponges are a kitchen staple, and also the germiest item in the entire kitchen, according to NSF research. And after only a few uses, they can develop a foul-smelling odor. Luckily, there’s a quick fix for getting a sponge back in proper cleaning condition. Simply wet the sponge and pop it in the microwave for two minutes to eliminate germs. Ta-da! It’s ready to use.

• Grimy Cabinets and Streaky Surfaces: From greasy little hands going in for snacks to frequent opening and closing during meal-prep, grease and grime on kitchen cabinets and door handles can accumulate quickly — spreading germs and making your kitchen look dirty!

To disinfect and deodorize cabinets and other non-porous surfaces, a good bet is Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. First, remove any excess debris and then use enough wipes for the surface to remain visibly wet for four minutes. For food-contact surfaces, rinse with clean water. To clean hard, nonporous kitchen cabinet exteriors, wipe the cabinet on the outside and let it dry. Making it a practice to wipe down cabinets weekly will prevent a lot of grease and build-up in the long run.

Carve out an afternoon for cleaning remedies that will knock out the mess and pesky germs in no time.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 23:23

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Add beauty to your home


Making home upgrades? Why not make style a priority? There are many easy ways to add beauty to your home in the most unlikely spaces.

• Striking Bathroom: Performance and aesthetics can intersect when making bathroom changes. Upgrade water-hogging appliances with modern, efficient models that are stylish and easily maintained. These choices can save you money on water bills and time on cleaning day.

Some designs, such as the Cascade high efficiency toilet (HET) from Mansfield Plumbing, even promote health. Its rimless design eliminates the germs and bacteria that hide in difficult-to-access areas. Both the round front bowl and elongated SmartHeight bowl design are approved to meet EPA standards for water efficiency, using just 1.28 gallons per flush — a savings of 20 percent more water than older models.

If you have young children at home, consider adding a stylish Elementary juvenile toilet to a bathroom. Less than a foot high, the child-sized toilet makes potty training much more fun and successful.

• Quick Design Elements: Installing decorative polyurethane millwork pieces makes for a fast, easy project, even for novice do-it-yourselfers. Only have an hour? Use out-of-the-box-and-onto-the-house pieces from a brand like Fypon, which come pre-primed and ready for installation. Try these five transformative projects:

• Surround your foyer entryway with pilasters and a crosshead. While you’re at it, surround room dividers with pilasters and a crosshead to make transitioning between rooms a unique experience.

• Add a two-piece ceiling medallion around the top of a light fixture or ceiling fan in less than 10 minutes. Interlocking pieces snap together quickly.

• For a bathroom upgrade, install moisture-resistant pilasters on both sides of your shower stall and a door crosshead overhead.

• Give tops of bathroom and kitchen cabinets style with corbels. Accent a boring kitchen island with decorative brackets or corbels.

• Add a large sunburst window pediment half round above a bed to serve as a decorative headboard.

• Add Style Anywhere: Even your most utilitarian spaces deserve a style makeover. And windows are a good place to start. Whether your home is modern, contemporary or traditional, say goodbye to plain panes. Acrylic block, glass block or decorative glass windows in any room — even a closet — add privacy and light.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 23:22

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To get that garden going, practice lawnicide



When Michelle Obama converted part of her lawn into a garden seven years ago, she made it look easy. And lawn killing certainly can be easy, depending on your game plan. Or it can be a difficult, frustrating failure.

The first lady’s method was detailed in a story on The Atlantic online, written by the son of the farmer who assisted her. Organic soil from a nearby farm in Pennsylvania was trucked down Pennsylvania Avenue and dumped into wooden frames on the White House lawn.

This is a perfectly good tactic, if you have the resources, and want to garden in raised beds. Assuming you do, it is without question the quickest way to convert lawn into garden.

For demonstration gardens, or for gardeners with limited space or little tolerance for mess, raised beds can be a great system. But for large plots of land, a ground-level garden comes with more options, and less carpentry involved.

To kill lawn for a ground-level garden, you can either take the easy way, which works, or your choice of hard ways, which don’t.

The easy way is to cover the lawn with plastic and wait for it to die. A more common approach is to dig up your lawn, pulling out the grass as you go. Even if you use a tiller, this is backbreaking work that usually fails, because roots, including little pieces of chopped roots, will inevitably stay in the ground. Grass roots are extremely hardy, and will re-sprout, sending their grassy whiskers throughout your new garden, and quickly rebuilding a network of roots.

Meanwhile, all the plant material that is removed from the soil represents fertility leaving the garden. To be fair, the pulled-up grass could be composted, but then there is still the matter of the roots remaining in the soil.

Another bad tactic is to cut and remove the sod where you want to plant. As with digging the grass, enough of the roots will likely be left behind that the lawn will return. And by removing sod, you’re not only losing the potential fertility of the grass, but the actual fertility of the topsoil bound in its roots. And you’ll need to import dirt to replace the sod and bring the garden up to ground level.

So unless you’re building raised beds, tarping is the way to go. After a few months under the summer sun, the grass and roots will have been transformed into worm poop, and your lawn will be a garden.

The only downside to tarping is you have to plan ahead, and then be patient. While it involves very little active work, you have to wait about 10 weeks. So if you’re hoping to turn your turf into tomatoes this year, it’s not going to happen (unless you ignore my advice, use the shovel, and do battle with an endless parade of grass shoots from your tomato patch).

The news that you can’t, or at least shouldn’t, garden in your lawn this summer might come as a disappointment, but here’s a consolation prize: If you pull off that plastic late next summer, it will be the perfect time to plant garlic.

Garlic is planted in fall, sprouts in springtime, and proceeds to shoot up quickly and impressively. At the time of this writing (in May) my garlic is knee-high, and gearing up to produce bulbs this summer. If your winters are mild enough, you could also plant hearty greens, like kale, in your former lawn, and let them overwinter. But I prefer garlic, because ... garlic!

Whatever you choose to plant in the lawn’s wake, the cause of death will remain the same. Black plastic is ideal. White plastic reflects too much light and won’t heat up enough, while clear plastic can get hot enough to kill soil bacteria and send the bugs crawling to deeper, cooler quarters.

Black plastic is widely available, usually in rolls, at hardware or garden stores - if not, it can be ordered. You want it about 2-4 mils thick (“mil” being the unit of thickness used to measure tarp thickness).

Before laying down the tarp, I like to dig a narrow trench around the perimeter of the garden plot that I’m envisioning. I toss the shovelfuls of dug sod into the middle of garden spot. This step isn’t necessary, but it helps me visualize the garden to come.

Eventually, the converted lawn is going to need some kind of border, in order to ensure that the surrounding grass doesn’t re-colonize its former turf. Such a barrier, like lawn edging, will be easier to install once the grass is dead. But keep this future step in mind.

On a non-windy day, place your plastic on the future garden spot. If the plot requires multiple pieces, try to cut the plastic as few times as necessary, producing as few pieces as possible. The pieces should overlap one another by at least a foot or two; don’t allow any cracks between the plastic sheets.

As you lay out the plastic, cover it with objects to weigh it down. Almost anything with any density to it will work as a weight, including bricks, blocks, boards, buckets and bicycles, as well as items that don’t begin with “B.”

It’s especially important to weigh down the outer edge - fill the trench with heavy items - and along the edges where two pieces of plastic come together. You want to make sure that no wind can get under the tarp.

Then, sit back and let the microbes, pill bugs and worms do their thing. You may be losing lawn, but hang onto that lawn chair. You’ll need it for sitting, while you sip something cold, as your lawn dies a slow death.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 23:20

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Familiar land, horses

“Looking for Lynne,” by John L. Moore. Create Space Independent Publishg Platform. Paperback, 356 pages.

By WALLY McLANE - For The Outpost

lookingforlynneAlthough “Looking for Lynne,” by John L. Moore, is a fourth book dealing with Ezra Riley, his family and cohorts – ah, friends – it can be read without feeling as if you’ve missed something.

If, after reading this book, you do not recognize some of the “fictional” characters or quarter horse bloodlines, then maybe you did miss something while living in this country.

The story takes place in modern times, dealing with the present problems ranchers all over have to handle. John Moore is certainly able to relate to all of this as he is a rancher in the Miles City area of Montana who also writes widely.

The undertone of the story deals with someone named “Lynne.” Once you read the dedication, acknowledgments and introduction, and if you are somewhat familiar with all the goings on in this region, you know who Lynne is/was.

This was further confirmed to me by a good friend of mine who is also in the dedication. He gave me a copy of this book shortly after we had been talking about “Lynne.”

Then there is the recurring role of the Oswald bloodline of the American quarter horse.

That should make people all over the country who are interested in quarter horses, interested in this book. Having seen and watched an Oswald horse do his thing, I now know firsthand how good they are.

And yes, the person on the back of one had better be a rider as this is not a “kid’s horse.”


Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2015 21:48

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New book honors art of Isabelle Johnson

Yellowstone Art Museum

isabellejohnsonThe Yellowstone Art Museum has published a new book about Modernist painter Isabelle Johnson (1901-1992). It is the first major study of the work of an artistic pioneer in Montana. “A Lonely Business: Isabelle Johnson’s Montana” includes essays by Patricia Vettel-Becker, Bob Durden, Donna M. Forbes, and Theodore Waddell, and is introduced by Robyn G. Peterson.

This richly illustrated book was made possible by support from the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, whose trustees Cathy and Peter Halstead now own ranch property that was formerly Johnson’s.

The book will be followed by a major Isabelle Johnson exhibition of the same name, which will be on exhibit at the Yellowstone Art Museum from Nov. 5 through Jan. 3, 2016, second in the YAM’s multi-year exhibition series called Montana Masters.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:42

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New book explores Crook’s role in Indian campaigns after Civil War

“The Gray Fox: George Crook and the Indian Wars,” by Paul Magid. University of Oklahoma Press, 512 pages. Hardcover, $29.95.

By WALLY McLANE - For The Outpost

grayfox“The Gray Fox,” by Paul Magid, is the second of a proposed trilogy on the life and times of Gen. George Crook, “affectionately” referred to as the “Gray Fox” by the Apache. Gray Fox roughly means “coming death.”

This book deals with his life after the Civil War, when he was involved in various Indian campaigns, including the Great Sioux War, but before he went back to Arizona to deal with Geronimo.

Crook was such a valuable asset to the Indian wars because he came into them with prior experience. Before the Civil War he fought Indians in the Pacific Northwest. He used some of the same tactics he had learned fighting Indians to fight Confederate guerrillas in the Civil War.

To find renegade Indians – those who were not on the reservations – Crook believed in using reservation Indians of the same blood, or sworn enemies, as scouts.

A couple of incidents are mentioned that deal with the Sioux Campaign in the spring of 1876. These incidents definitely contributed to George Custer meeting his destiny.

One of these incidents was when Crook sent two subordinates to lead an offensive against a contingent of the Northern Cheyenne.

He had these subordinates lead the offensive in an effort to help them get their reputations back. Had they been more courageous and listened to their scouts, the Northern Cheyenne might not have gotten annoyed and joined Sitting Bull – giving Sitting Bull the added strength to consider a major confrontation, the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

If Gen. Phil Sheridan had let his commanders in the field run the campaigns and had not tried to do it from behind his desk in Chicago, Ill., and if the Washington bureaucrats had stayed out of them, one has to ponder whether the Indian wars would have gone on as long as they did.

There is one minor flaw with the book. With the wide range of audience that will be interested in reading it, not everyone will be an English major. Sometimes the words in the narrative slowed the flow.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:36

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Entrepreneur, pioneer tough mix in early park

“Yellowstone Summers,” by Jane Galloway Demaray. Washington State University Press.

By WALLY McLANE - For The Outpost

yellowstoneDuring the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the nation’s economy switching from agriculture to manufacturing and industrialization, more of the “middle class” were able to enjoy some of the “perks” of the “upper class” – i.e., traveling – leading to an increase in tourism.

One of those to see where this newfound freedom was going was William Wallace Wylie and what better place to develop this traveling concept he had than in his recently explored Yellowstone National Park? To say he incurred a road block or two is an understatement.

After all, this was happening in 1878. George Armstrong Custer had been dead only two years. There were still Indians doing their traditional hunts in late summer and early fall. Since the park had recently been established in 1872, the government was still occupied settling down the Indian nations.

The national park had just been designated. Forget roads – riverbeds were the smoothest passageways – concessions, all the other amenities we are now accustomed to in the park. But someone had to start it, and Wylie was “the man with the plan” and “Yellowstone Summers,” by Jane Galloway Demaray, is his story.

From 1880 to 1905 Wylie would spend the school year in Bozeman, then ride horseback to Mammoth for the summers, tending to tourists, with the help of his staff – family, fellow teachers and students.

At the time, the tours lasted approximately six and a half days. The duration of the tours would change in time. Today, with stops, it can be done in four to six hours.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:29

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In ‘Dry Bones,’ Johnson goes after dinosaurs

“Dry Bones,” by Craig Johnson. Viking, 306 pages. Hardcover, $27.95.

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

drybonesOne thing you have to admire about Craig Johnson. He’s a highly successful mystery writer in Wyoming who could rake in royalties from book sales and the successful TV series (now on Netflix) based on his main character, Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire.

He could crank out a new book every summer based on a standard formula, plugging in new character names and locations, and make a good living for many years to come.

But he doesn’t do that. He’s always trying something new. Sometimes it works, like the time he put Longmire in the Bighorn Mountains tracking down a criminal while echoes of Dante rang through the book (“Hell Is Empty”), or the time he turned out a short novel about a desperate plane ride to save a girl’s life (“Spirit of Steamboat”).

Sometimes they don’t work. The novel that included a trip to Philadelphia (“Kindness Goes Unpunished”) had a promising start, then got bogged down in a mishmash of suspects. The novel that included flashbacks to Longmire’s service in Vietnam (“Another Man’s Moccasins”) had a similar promising beginning that never quite developed.

His latest, “Dry Bones,” belongs in the latter category, although not by much. Once again, he comes up a fascinating premise: A Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is found in Absaroka County, and then the property owner turns up dead. Intrigue about dinosaur bones would appear to be a can’t-miss plot in the barren West, but somehow this never quite comes off.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:23

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75th may be one novel too many

By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

daniels-loneriderI have nothing but respect for Bozeman author B.J. Daniels. Her newest western romantic suspense novel, “Lone Rider,” is her 75th book since 1995. Last year alone, Daniels published five novels.

As someone who often struggles to put out an 800-word newspaper article each week, I can’t help but be impressed by Daniels’ productivity.

However, if “Lone Rider” is any indication, Daniels should start focusing less on quantity and more on quality.

First, let’s consider its title. The lone cowboy mentioned in the title is one of the most overused clichés in western literature, but Daniels embraces it. This is indicative of her writing style in general. If you can think of a clichéd character or circumstance, you’ll likely find it in “Lone Rider.”

The first chapter is the biggest offender in this sense. For example, consider the book’s opening paragraph:

“The moment Jace Calder saw his sister’s face, he feared the worst. His heart sank. Emily, his troubled little sister, had been doing so well since she’d gotten her job at the Sarah Hamilton Foundation in Big Timber, Montana.”

The “troubled little sister” cliché is just as old as the “lone cowboy” and Daniels utilizes it just three lines into the book. By the end of this first chapter, we’ve also been introduced to the sheltered daughter of a senator (Bo Hamilton) and the rugged cowboy who broke her heart (Jace Calder).

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:19

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Mystery a tasty treat

By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

ButterOffDeadWriting mysteries can be a difficult task. On one hand, readers expect these novels to have a certain familiar formula. However, authors who follow the formula too closely run the risk of creating something too familiar. With “Butter Off Dead,” the third book in her “Food Lover’s Village Mystery” series, Big Fork-based author Leslie Budewitz proves that she is more than capable of walking that fine line.

For those unfamiliar with the “Food Lovers” series, it takes place in Jewel Bay, Mont. – a town with more than a few passing similarities to Budewitz’s hometown. The heroine is Erin Murphy, a former Seattle resident who returns home to help her mother run the family Mercantile. In addition to running the shop, Erin also unofficially works to solve the surprisingly large number of murders that take place in her small town.

In this book, the case revolves around the murder of Christine – the ex-girlfriend of Erin’s brother Nick and the organizer of the First Annual Food Lover’s Film Festival. As Erin probes into the death, she discovers that she may not have known her family and neighbors as well as she first thought.

Last March, I reviewed “Assault and Pepper,” another of Budewitz’s novels. In many ways, “Butter Off Dead” feels very similar to that book. Both have a heroine juggling her work life and crime solving. Both take place in a small, tightly knit community. Both feature groan-worthy puns in their titles. Budewitz’s love for food is present in both stories and is seen here through the paragraphs describing the food sold in the Mercantile.

Despite this, “Butter Off Dead” never feels like a retread. The character development is top notch, and Erin is a truly likable heroine. Meanwhile, supporting characters such as Erin’s mother, nephew and pet cats provide solid comic relief.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:14

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MSU professor pens book on American West


BOZEMAN – A Montana State University professor who gained new insights about the West by driving more than 30,000 miles and visiting every county in 11 states has written one of the latest books in a long-running environmental series.

Cultural geographer William Wyckoff said he wrote “How to Read the American West: A Field Guide” to dispel misconceptions about the West, give Americans a more diverse picture of the West and remind Westerners why they chose to live there.

Cowboys and saloons are still a part of the American West, but today’s West is one of the most culturally diverse areas of the country, Wyckoff said. Latinos now make up almost one-third of its population. The largest Vietnamese shopping mall in the United States is in the West. Las Vegas and snowbird settlements are as much a part of the modern West as sagebrush and dude ranches.

For his sixth book overall and his second book in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series, Wyckoff selected 100 cultural features that shape the Western landscape. He chose them arbitrarily, Wyckoff said, then placed them into categories. Instead of focusing on the biggest canyons, the tallest waterfalls and famous tourist sites, he looked for more ordinary features that said something about the West today.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2015 21:08

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‘Missoula’: Rape in a very small place

“Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town,” by Jon Krakauer. Doubleday. 367 pages, hardbound. $28.95.

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

book-missoulaThe most notorious thing about Jon Krakauer’s latest book of investigative reporting is the title. Even Mr. Krakauer acknowledges that despite a recent spate of publicized cases, Missoula is no hotbed of rape.

Missoula’s rate of sexual assault is unexceptional, and the cases Mr. Krakauer writes about are, as he readily asserts, typical of sexual assault cases in America: They often involve people who know each other, they are difficult to prosecute, and they leave lasting scars on both the perpetrator and the victim.

This is not a fun read. Unless you are into torture porn, you are likely to find Mr. Krakauer’s repeated and detailed accounts of rape cases disturbing and depressing.

Moreover, little is resolved. Mr. Krakauer writes in an author’s note that “This book is an effort to understand what deters so many rape victims from going to the police, and to comprehend the repercussions of sexual assault from the perspective of those who have been victimized.”

He struggles mightily to deliver on that mission statement, but this reader was left as mystified as ever about these critical points. The book leaves one saddened and disturbed but unenlightened.

None of that is meant as a criticism of Mr. Krakauer. This is complicated stuff, and if attention to detail was all it took to unravel it, then “Missoula” would be a priceless contribution to understanding sexual assault in 21st century America.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:01

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Other books of note

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

Not all of the books that cross our desk here at the Outpost deserve a full review. And some that do deserve a full review somehow slip through the cracks and never get one, either because they arrive at the wrong time or because we run out of time to read them. This column provides notes about some of those books:

• “High and Inside,” by Russell Rowland. Bangtail Press. This novel actually came out in 2013, but I got my hands on a copy only recently, courtesy of Mr. Rowland himself. I was a great admirer of his first novel, “In Open Spaces,” which seemed to me about as fine a coming-of-age book as I have read.

There is much to admire, too, in “High and Inside,” the story of a washed-up baseball player who returns to Montana to try to make something of what’s left of his life. It wasn’t as gripping as the first book – maybe it needed more baseball – but it made for a good summer read.

• “Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet,” by Todd Wilkinson. Lyons Press. Here’s another 2013 book that I also just recently obtained from the author himself.

I haven’t had time to read the book yet, but I know Todd (whose environmental column used to appear in the Outpost). He is a solid, no-nonsense reporter whose love for the natural world is exceeded only by his love for sound journalistic standards.

Perhaps Ted Turner’s foreword says it best: “Over many years, I’ve given probably thousands of interviews. My first impression of Todd Wilkinson when he arrived on my ranch doorstep in Montana was that he’d probably be just another reporter looking for just another superficial story to tell.

“I came to discover that’s not how he works. He’s as tenacious as I am.”

• “Laurel,” by Ann Kooistra-Manning, and “Rock Creek Valley,” by Bob Wallace and the Carbon County Historical Society. These are two new entries in the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing. Like other books in the series, these consist mostly of black-and-white photos from the early days. Many of the pictures are fairly mundane shots of buildings and early residents that primarily are of interest to people who have lived in those areas. Others, such as the photo of Elroy Gilles (father of Outpost correspondent T.J. Gilles) on the rearing horse that he rode from Laurel to the 1940 New York World’s Fair, are just priceless.

• “Montana State Parks: Complete Guide and Travel Companion,” by Erin Madison and Kristen Inbody. Riverbend Publishing. Two staffers at the Great Falls Tribune put together this guide, which selects a few high points in each portion of the state and puts together a few photos, a brief description of each, a map and tourist information.

Most of the selections are predictable: This area, for example, is singled out for Plenty Coups State Park, Pictograph Caves and Makoshika, all high on anybody’s tourist list for this part of the state.

Other choices are a bit surprising. Also selected are the Rosebud Battlefield and Piroque Island near Miles City, a state park I had never heard of until we visited last summer. As the guide warns, the water was too high to get the island itself.

This is a useful book for newcomers to Montana, and pretty handy even for those of us who have been here for a couple of decades.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:46

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