Blunt to give Wallace Stegner Lecture on Friday
Judy Blunt, author of the award winning collection of nonfiction essays “Breaking Clean” will present the 2007 Wallace Stegner Lecture on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, located at 415 Main St. in Lewiston.
The event is open and free to the public, and refreshments will be served. Copies of “Breaking Clean” will also be available for purchase and autographs.
Breaking Clean” chronicles the first 30 years of Blunt’s life on isolated ranches near Malta, Mont., and her subsequent move across the Continental Divide to Missoula.
A single mother of three small children when she arrived at the University of Montana in 1986, Blunt found the two communities a world apart. A classroom assignment made her realize she had a story to tell. A former professor, Bill Bevis, had prompted his students to write about their Montana experiences. A few weeks later, Bevis asked Blunt if he might read it to the class. Reluctantly, she gave him permission, which started her on her way.
Blunt is a third-generation Montana homesteader. She grew up on a ranch approximately 50 miles south of Malta in the rural community of Regina, Mont. She married at age 18 to a 30-year-old man and, as she matured, she struggled to define herself as a woman in a man's world.
In 2002, “Breaking Clean” won the Mountains and Plains Nonfiction Book Award, the Willa Cather Literary Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book. Judy's short pieces have appeared in Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Big Sky Journal, and others.
“Breaking Clean” was called “powerful” by The New York Times Book Review and “profound, and profoundly moving,” by Kirkus Reviews. It has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and National Public Radio. Before the memoir was even published, it had earned the 1997 PEN/Jerard Fund Award of $4,000 and the 2001 Whiting Writers’ Award of $35,000.
Author and University of Montana Professor Emeritus William Kittredge described “Breaking Clean” as a classical American memoir. Kittredge has said that “Judy Blunt lived in a beloved country among beloved people. She grew up knowing blizzards and good horses, working cattle all day and then getting dinner on the table, impassable roads to town and babies with raging fevers – a resolute country girl who became a ranch wife on the short grass plains of Montana. And she tells of leaving, the price of insisting on her right to fashion her own life.”
A review published in National Geographic Adventure, states: “Breaking Clean lifts you up out of your chair and sets you down on a ranch in the high plains of northeastern Montana. Sets you down – no, that's hardly adequate. Blunt slams you down. She writes the way a lion stalks, all might and attention; she grabs you by the back of your neck, shakes you up, makes you feel how she felt. Blunt is, to put it another way, scarily good–so right on, so focused, so in-your-face that you have to take the book slowly to cushion the blow.”
Blunt’s appearance in the 2007 Wallace Stegner Lecture marks a continued, annual event sponsored by the LCSC Humanities Division. The lecture is named after the late, esteemed author Wallace Stegner, whose many books included “The Big Rock Candy Mountain”, “Angle of Repose”, and “Crossing to Safety.”
For additional information, contact Mark Sanders, LCSC Professor of Humanities, at (208) 792-2301.