DQ Blog


January 9, 2023

    Whew. It's been a busy three years for me, mostly spent researching and writing about the pandemic virus, SARS-CoV-2, and its fierce journey through the human population. (See the article on Breathless, just to the left.) For most of that time, I stayed home in my little office, in Bozeman, Montana, interviewing virologists and other scientific experts remotely. I scarcely left home. I made it through the year 2020 on one tank of gas in my RAV4. During 2021 and much of 2022, I worked harder, here at the desk, than I've ever worked before (and also harder, I hope, than I ever will again). Then in September 2022 it came time to hit the road again: book tour time. So I flew to Seattle. And then toWashington, DC. And then to Memphis, Singapore, Milan, New York, back to Milan, Rome, Trieste, and Portland. Please don't tell Greta Thunburg. I'm aware of the carbon-footprint issue and I'm trying to deal with it. One method is Zoom. For the ninety-five interviews I did with my scientific sources while researching Breathless, the new book, I had traveled zero. But for some kinds of interaction, you simply have to show up.

    One thing that itinerary reflects is that book tours are not quite like they used to be, except in Italy. In the U.S., publishers have found that public-radio and podcast appearances are generally more cost-effective than sending an author to a city for a personal appearance at a bookstore. But in Italy, at least in my experience, there is still a great appetite for

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Movie Star

January 24, 2017

     So we went to the Sundance Film Festival, yes, and a merry and curious time it was. Betsy and I drove down to Park City, Utah, along with two of our dogs--the most needy, the borzois Nick and Stella--on Friday, leaving Harry the maremma and Oscar the cat at home in the care of our trusted petsitter and friend Kris.  Friday night in Park City we went to a party, for cast and crew and others associated with the movie "Walking Out," made by script-writer/directors Alex and Andrew Smith, from a story I published, by the same title, about forty years ago.  Yes, forty.  The film stars Matt Bomer, doing a superb job in a role unlike any he's played before, and a fine young actor named Josh Wiggins, and Bill Pullman at his grizzled best.  Three generations of men in Montana linked by blood and distanced by pride and hurt and the burden of expectations.  It's a tale of a hunting trip that goes wrong, very wrong, and how a boy grows into a man under the necessity of circumstances.  Matt and Josh and Bill were all there, doing what starring actors do at Sundance, and Betsy and I were there too, doing what hayseeds from Montana do.  The film premiered at 6 pm on Saturday (a nice slot), to excellent reactions and reviews (including favorable comparisons to "The Revenant," which is the closest approximation though very different).  Speaking of "The Revenant," the film from my story, "Walking Out," also features a grizzly bear, though this grizzly sow is sensible as well as fearsome, she does not attack, and no bear was harmed--or even mildly insulted--in the making of the movie.  After the Saturday night showing, Betsy and I hung out a bit with Bill Pullman and his wife Tamara (fine and genuine folks who are anchored in Montana themselves) and other members of the cast and crew, including Annick Smith, distinguished Montana writer, who happens to be the mother of Alex and Andrew, the directors.  The relationship between my story and this family

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Borzois in Tuxedos?

December 8, 2016

   Forty-some years ago, I wrote a short story titled "Walking Out."  It's the tale of a boy and a father and a hunting trip gone wrong.  I was paying my dues as a struggling young writer at the time, waiting tables, then tending bar, in Missoula, Montana.  Originally this story was part of a novel, which would have been my second--but that novel never saw daylight.  The story did, finally, and thanks largely to Bill Kittredge, who was editing a collection.  He put my tale into print.  It was well received, in the quiet, small world of people who care about short fiction.

   Four decades later, the story has become a film--from a screenplay written by, and directed by, the wonderful Smith brothers, Alex and Andrew, whose previous film work includes "Winter in the Blood."  Montana lads with world-class eyes and ears.  Sons of the Montana writer and film producer Annick Smith.  We're a small world, a warm family, up here in the snow.  Everybody connected somehow.

   The film is elegantly cast: Matt Bomer as the father, Josh Wiggins as the boy, Bill Pullman stepping in for the flashback grandfather, and other fine actors.  I haven't seen the final product yet, but I saw these people at work, during a couple visits to the set, and I very much admire what they do and who they are.

   Betsy and I just got word that the film, shot in the snows of Montana last winter, has been accepted to premier at the Sundance Festival, Park City, in January.    The night of Saturday, January 21, I believe.  Mark your calendars.  Betsy asked: Can we go?  Yes, of course.  Can we take the three dogs? Yes, of course.  Load up the Subaru and we'll roll.  My question: What's the dress code for Sundance?  Do we need to get tuxedos for the two borzois?  (The maremma is more of a coveralls guy.)   No, I'm told, slightly more casual.  Maybe hip black.  Like a waiter at the Royalton, in New York.  Appropriate, I suppose, since I

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Crescent Moon

December 6, 2016.  BOHART RANCH, BRIDGER MTS.

      I wish I had a photo of tonight's waxing crescent moon.  Go out and look at it.  That's the warm reflected winter luminescence that guided me out of the modest backcountry of the Bridger Mountains tonight.

     After half a day's work on "Tree of Life" and some chores, I headed for Bohart Ranch, up Bridger canyon, for a respite of late-afternoon ski touring.  Got there about 3:30 pm, way too late, it was 7 degrees or so, but as I signed in John at the Bohart lodge said, "It's a winter wondrland out there!"  That's the spirit.  I had my headlamp, knowing that I was pushing the window of daylight.  Started out, got half a mile, fingers were freezing in my little gloves, came back for my serious mittens.  Out again.  No one on the trails--except one guy, who blew past me because he was skating and I was doing diagonal stride.  (I don't skate ski because 1) I'm old and lazy and 2) when I ski tour, I want to meditate, not hyperventilate.)  Skied out alone for about an hour, on lovely snow, as it got dark.  Didn't quite go up to Logger's Loops this time, atop the Bohart area, because I knew that takes me a bit longer. Looped back around after an hour and headed toward the lodge, somewhere amid these branching trails. Now it got dusky.  Headlamp still in the fanny pack.  Should I pull it out?  Naw.  I knew that we were graced with a waxing crescent moon tonight, and that therefore it would be up early, long before sunset, casting a fair bit of light onto the snow.  So I slid on, through the darkening, with good visibility on the two-track trail.  Exquisite.  Silence.  Lodgepole pines and subalpine firs.  The ridge of the Bridgers in the distance.  Nobody else on the trails.  I got back to the car after two hours, sweaty.  I knew that John, living over the Bohart garage, would come out and look for me sometime before midnight if

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The Latest

 October 24, 2016

It’s book-tour season for me again—this time on behalf of "Yellowstone: A Journey Through America’s Wild Heart," my new book (in collaboration with a team of wonderful photographers), which is just out.  It’s an expanded version (more words, more photos) of the May 2016 special issue of National Geographic, for which I wrote the complete text.

This week I'm headed over to Billings, MT, for a talk and book signing at This House of Books, on Wednesday, October 26, 5:30 pm.  I'll show some amazing photos from my National Geographic colleagues, in the course of speaking about the Yellowstone book (just out) and the work that led to its making.  Y’all come, if you’re in Billings.

Other recent visits have been ticked off the calendar.  On October 10 I was in Colorado Springs, to lecture at Colorado College on "Ebola to Yellowstone and Beyond: A Writer's Explorations."  My old pal and editor Mark Bryant was teaching a block in the journalism program and he asked me to come, meet with his class and do the evening lecture.  Mark was editor-in-chief at Outside Magazine in the late 1980s and early '90s, when I wrote the Natural Acts column there.  We relived some good memories.  Like the time, in a beat-up car headed for a weekend getaway from Chicago to Wisconsin, when I listened to Mark pitching a story idea to our young colleague, Jon Krakauer.  Something about a poor confused young man who died in a school bus not far off a road in Alaska. . .

On September 30, Friday, I did a lecture on Yellowstone with photos (from my National Geographic colleagues) at Town Hall in Seattle, again with a book signing afterward.  

On October 2, a Sunday morning, I did one of the keynote talks to the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, also in Seattle.  A bit eearly for public speaking but fortunately there was good strong coffee in Seattle.

On October 4, Tuesday, I drove down to Grand Teton and gave the keynote that evening at the opening of the 13th Biennial

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