The January selection for the In Print Writers as Readers (WaR) book club was American Copper by Shann Ray. American Copper tells the story of Evelynne, daughter of Joseph Lowry, a powerful copper baron who wanted to “exhaust the storehouses of God” and never let his daughter marry because he needed her. Despite his desire to keep her at home, two very different men challenge his claim: Zion “a kind of powerful man who can’t put together words for feelings” and William Black Kettle, a Cheyenne team roper, who “has an intact family with a whole unified male female interwoven quality.”
American Copper has been called ‘tough, poetic, and beautiful’ by Sherman Alexie, “expansive and luminous” by Debra Magpie Earling, and ‘lyrical, prophetic and brutal, yet ultimately hopeful’ by Dave Eggers. The novel was excerpted by Esquire, Fugue, High Desert Journal, McSweeney’s, and Tin House, and honored with critical acclaim in reviews ranging from New York to San Francisco, along with a Kirkus Reviews Star, awarded to books of exceptional merit.
An added bonus to the WaR discussion of American Copper was the opportunity to skype with the author Shann Ray. In Print member Deborah Lucas and WaR book club member Katie Andraski took the initiative and made all of the arrangements, booking the Cherry Valley Library medium conference room and hooking up the computer to the library’s WiFi network so that the members and Shann could have a virtual face-to-face conversation.
Ray spoke with the group while on vacation in Mexico. He graciously answered questions and shared insight on the amount of research that it took to fashion his novel and of the relationship between he and his editor.
Shann Ray’s other creative works include American Book Award Winner, American Masculine and poetry collection Balefire. His nonfiction includes, Conversations on Servant-Leadership and Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity. He teaches forgiveness and leadership studies at Gonzaga University.