Montana has a rich history of high quality literature, and nobody can really explain why. But for the past century, Montana, or Montana writers, have produced many of the most influential books to come out of the West. The reputation has become such that many established writers move here and adopt the state, as with Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison, Rick Bass, and Debra Magpie Earling, the most recent chairman of the Creative Writing Department at the University of Montana.

But Montana’s strong reputation was mostly built on the backs of wonderful writers who were grew up in Montana, writers like A.B. Guthrie, Dorothy Johnson, Ivan Doig, and Norman Maclean.

Breakfast in Montana is a podcast where two Montana writers, Russell Rowland and Aaron Parrett, discuss two Montana books per episode, in an effort to explore what it is about this state that inspires so much incredible literature. In each episode, Rowland and Parrett will discuss one book from the past and one contemporary book, in hopes of giving some of the rising stars more of a platform for their work, as well as bringing new life to some books that are in danger of being forgotten.

Listen to Podcast Episodes:

Russell Rowland, Co-Host

Russell Rowland was born in Bozeman, Montana, and raised in Billings. He has published four novels (In Open Spaces, The Watershed Years, High and Inside, Arbuckle), an anthology of writers from the West (West of 98: Living and Writing the New American West), and a non-fiction narrative (Fifty-Six Counties: A Montana Journey). His fifth novel, Cold Country, will be released in October 2019.

He has an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. He lives in Billings, where he teaches online workshops and works one-on-one with other writers.

Aaron Parrett, Co-Host

Born in Butte, Montana, Aaron Parrett earned a PhD in Comparative Literature in 2001 from The University of Georgia. He is currently Professor of English Literature at the “University of Providence” in Great Falls, Montana.

His first academic book, The Translunar Narrative in the Western Tradition (Ashgate, 2004) examined the dream of traveling to the Moon in literature, culminating in the Apollo Program of the 1960s and early 1970s that achieved the millennia-long vision of leaving Earth. A considerable portion of his academic work deals with science fiction. His other works have focused on his home state of Montana, including Montana: Then and Now (Bangtail, 2014), Literary Butte (History Press, 2015) and Montana Americana Music (Arcadia, 2016), for which prize-winning author Smith Henderson wrote the foreword. His most recent short story collection, Maple and Lead, won the High Plains Book Award for best collection. He also had the honor of appearing as a guest on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown segment on Butte. He serves as president of The Drumlummon Institute, a non-profit whose mission is “to promote and publish art and literatures created in Montana and the broader American West.” 

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