The Mountain and the Fathers Featured on the Daily Dose

Pleased to see that The Mountain and the Fathers is featured today on Powell’s Bookstore’s Daily Dose, a newsletter featuring recent reader comments. Thanks, Stuart in Fort Collins, for the kind, perceptive comments about The Mountain and the Fathers:

This is a tremendously powerful narrative of growing up in a harsh and unforgiving climate with a way and manner of life that few probably understand exists in the modern US today. Having lost his father at a young age, the author explores where he found example, guidance and protection as well as where he failed to find those components in the community that exists uniquely in Big Dry and Hi-line of Montana. Wilkins is very successful in conveying how the landscape and community reduce most elements of life to essentials and ways of escape. The story of what the author had to do to keep the coal burning furnace running and how that was just a fact of life no different that eating or sleeping had a strong effect on the perspective that readers can glean from the comparison to the truly few serious trials that most of us face on a daily basis.

A great read and one that has a great deal of staying power. I’ve known a fair number of people who grew up in that area of Montana and Wilkins story rings very true. The Mountain and the Fathers can provide a valuable relief against which to gauge the “inconveniences” of life as well as the effect of recognizing where a father-less boy finds the attributes in men that he will absorb and live up to as well as those he can reject and how to compare himself to the stories and perception of dead father who in some ways has been mythologized.

Another Review

Another fine review for Killing the Murnion Dogs in the venerable Pleiades Review of Books! Near the end of the review, essayist and poet Nick Ripatrazone writes:

“Spiritual” and “A Prayer” tread new ground in the book’s final pages, and these lines feel both appropriate to the book as a whole and the particular, engaging aesthetic cultivated throughout: “But even in this joy I know enough / of pain and shame to say that’s all wrong: No one / deserves this world.”

Review in Main Street Rag

I was very pleased to finally get a hold of Carrie Shipers’ lovely review of Killing the Murnion Dogs in volume 17 of Main Street Rag. It’s not available online, but here are a few lines:


Violence–even sometimes brutality–may be an integral part of the world Wilkins creates, but there is room for tenderness, too. In “A Prayer,” an expansive, Whitman-esque poem that closes the collection, the poet turns his unflinching eye on the people who populate his poems, men who “water the sodden garden of themselves / with liquor” and women “nailing / themselves to the rough-cut boards of their husbands.” While these portraits are not necessarily flattering, there is an undertone of admiration in every line: he celebrates these people because of what they’re willing to endure in the hostile Western environment, and the poem is all the more moving because he seemingly counts himself among the people he describes. “A Prayer,” like the other poems in Killing the Murnion Dogs, is ultimately a kind of love poem, albeit a complex and sometimes disturbing one.

HDJ #13 Reviewed at

High Desert Journal #13 deservedly earns a kind review from John Palen this month at Newpages, and my story “Enough of Me” gets a mention:

“Raw delicacy” also describes Joe Wilkins’s intensely realized short story about a homeless woman in Montana who decides she’ll move beyond the self she had become. “Enough of Me” won High Desert Journal’s Obsidian Prize in Fiction, judged by Gretel Ehrlich.