Drumlummon Institute in Helena recently released the second volume in its Contemporary Fiction Series: the short story collection, Ballet at the Moose Lodge, by Caroline Patterson. Best known as the editor of the Willa Award–winning anthology, Montana Women Writers: A Geography of the Heart, Patterson is also the author of powerful short fiction. The new collection showcases 16 of her extraordinary stories.
Patterson explores what it is to grow up female in the American West. Her narratives delve into the lives of travelers, homemakers, radio-show announcers, mothers, teachers, dancers, shop clerks, and the subterranean world of girls. They take readers 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, “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 Patterson makes her home in Missoula 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.
She was recently interviewed on the Montana Public Radio program, The Write Question.