On Wednesday, it was announced that the 28-year-old fiction writer had won the Story Prize as well as the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her debut story collection explores the landscape, people and history of the American West.
When the Hoover Dam was finished in 1935, it was three times larger than any other dam on the planet. Journalist Michael Hiltzik examines the humongous engineering achievement — including how the Hoover Dam was conceived, designed and built — in a new book, Colossus.
Terry Gross talks with writer Allen Barra ("Bear-ah"), the author of "Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends" (Carroll & Graff Publishers). It tells the story of the famous sometime lawman and the shootout at the O.K. Corral at Tombstone, Arizona where Wyatt Earp was the only man left standing. Barra is a sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
Historian Dayton Duncan. He's the author of the book "Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery -- an Illustrated History" (Knopf). He also co-produced the PBS series of the same name with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and is the author of "Out West" (Penguin), in which he re-travels the Merriweather Lewis and William Clark journey.
British writer Jonathan Raban. His new book "Bad Land: An American Romance" is based on memoirs, diaries, photographs and letters of immigrants who in the early 1900s traveled to Montana to homestead. Raban himself is something of an immigrant; he settled in Seattle in 1990.
Pacific Northwest Bureau Chief for the New York Times Timothy Egan. His two-part series on urban sprawl in the western United States recently appeared in the Times. Egan writes that cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, and Salt Lake are growing rapidly, with growth going mostly unchecked. In Phoenix, he writes that land is being consumed at the rate of "an acre an hour." But in Portland, Oregon city officials over 20 years ago set up guidelines to control rampant growth.
Kittredge is best known for his writings about the West of the United States. He grew up on a ranch in southeastern Oregon and ranched himself for ten years. He also taught for years at the University of Montana. His new book is a memoir, "Hole in the Sky," about the land owned by his family for three generations.
Writer Wallace Stegner. His novels and essays are often based in the West where he grew up and lived for many years. Stegner started the creative writing program at Stanford University in California, which he ran for 26 years. He's now in his eighties. His new book of essays is called "Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs." (Random House)
Artist and writer Russell Chatham. Chatham's paintings and lithographs of the West have been shown in many of the major galleries and museums west of the Mississippi. His works tend to shy away from grand scenes of the Rockies, in favor of more quiet views of fields, forests, and water. His writings often deal with the outdoors, fishing, and hunting. (Interview by Sedge Thomson)
The writer inherited his family's ranch, but later sold it when he moved to Iowa for graduate school. Kittredge critiques the belief that humans have the moral authority to develop and tame the American West. This mythology, he says, has led to ecological destruction and the genocide of American Indians. His new collection of essays about the subject is called Owning it All.
Louis L'Amour is known as the "most famous obscure novelist." He has written 79 novels, mostly westerns. His novels have also been adapted into films such as "Hondo." L'Amour's latest novel is "Comstock Lode." He joins the show to discuss his work, western novels and films, the relationship between Native Americans and western settlers, and what he sees for the future.