Billings author Russell Rowland has taken a detour from writing novels to travel to every county of the state to explore its past and present. The resulting book, Fifty-Six Counties: A Montana Journey, will be the subject of a free reading and book signing on Thursday, April 21 at Elk River Books in downtown Livingston as part of the Elk River Arts & Lectures spring series.
Rowland spent a year studying and exploring his home state, from the mines of Butte to the pine forests of the northwest, from the stark badlands of the east to the tourist-driven west. Along the way, he considered our state’s essential character, where we came from, and most of all, what we might be in the process of becoming.
“I have a secret to share with you,” he writes in the book’s introduction. “It’s about this whole Montana mystique.”
Rowland’s first book, In Open Spaces, was called “a novel of muted elegance” by the New York Times. It was followed by two High Plains Books Awards finalists, The Watershed Years and High and Inside. He is also co-editor of the anthology, West of 98: Living and Writing the New American West.
During his visit to Livingston, Rowland will also work in the classroom with Park High students. The events are co-sponsored by the Murray Hotel.
The public event will take place upstairs at Elk River Books, 120 N Main St., at 7 p.m. Elk River Arts & Lectures is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring writers to Livingston for free public readings, and also to provide opportunities for those writers to interact with local public school students. For more information, call 333-2330 or visit elkriverarts.org.