The departed men in her life still have plenty to say to Corey. Her father, a legendary rodeo cowboy who punctuated his lifelong pronouncements with a bullet to his head, may be the loudest. But in this story of Montana—a story in which the old West meets the new and tradition has its way with just about everyone—it is Corey’s voice we listen to. In this tour-de-force of voices big and small, sure and faltering, hers comes across resonant and clear, directing us to the heart of the matter.
Played out against the mythology of the Old West—a powerful amalgam of ranching history, Marlboro Men, and train robbery reenactments—the story of the newly orphaned, spinsterish Corey is a sometimes comical, sometimes poignant tale of coming-of-age a little late. As she tries to recapture an old dream of becoming a painter—of preserving some modicum of true art amid the virtual reality of modern Montana—Corey finds herself figuring in other dramas as well, other, younger lives already at least as lost as her own.
“[Jackalope Dreams] gives us an example—if any is required—of why fiction is still necessary and what it uniquely offers. . . . Sentences seethe with urgent, unhurried energy, and the description of the land the author so clearly loves is in service of the story, not showing off. You come to care deeply about these people, caught between an uncapturable past and an uncertain future. Jackalope Dreams is a small masterpiece.”—Paul Wilner, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"In Blew's commendable fiction debut . . . [the author's] distinctive narrative voice and knack for description keep the story on track."—Publishers Weekly
“Blew knows how to fuse the rugged with the delicate—some readers may be reminded of Plainsong author Kent Haruf’s no-nonsense approach.”—John Mark Eberhart, Kansas City Star
“Engrossing. . . . Blew gets so much right, from her beautiful, clear prose to her sharp humor to her rich characterizations. . . . Jackalope Dreams satisfies.”—Jenny Shank, NewWest.net
“Nothing less than stunning: a story beautifully told, characters richly conceived and developed, lessons subtly delivered. . . . It is the poetry and preciseness of Blew’s writing that set Jackalope Dreams apart from others of its ilk. Hers is storytelling of the highest order.”—Sherry Devlin, Missoulian
"When Mary Clearman Blew reaches her stride, I dare you to put this book down."—C. K. Crigger, Roundup Magazine
"This book highlights both the joys and sorrows, trials and triumphs of rural Montana life through the experiences of Blew's characters. Jackalope Dreams is Blew's first novel, but, I hope, not her last."—Sue Hart, Montana, the Magazine of Western History
“Ms. Blew has written a superb novel about the gentrification of Montana; a paradox of traditional ways and new ephemera where well-heeled newcomers ‘tear down the old and replace it with the imitation old.’ . . . The book will keep you guessing—and reading—and in the end it is really a stunning western novel. . . . There is more than your money’s worth in this novel.”—Montana Quarterly
"Blew’s prose is as hardscrabble and finely whittled as her Montana subjects."—Diane Leach, popmatters.com
“Jackalope Dreams is a candid exploration of values in transition, caught between a tradition that has become elegy and a future transformed by canny, self-sufficient women. Itself a ‘long intense shiver,’ it forces us to reconsider issues of honor, violence, technology, independence, responsibility—and love. Add Mary Blew’s name triumphantly to the canon of essential novelists of the new West.”—Judith Kitchen, author of The House on Eccles Road
“Mary Blew has written a tough, true, and starkly beautiful novel about change and tradition in the cowboy West. Her characters are authentic, her story is gripping, and her writing is splendid.”—Annick Smith, author of Homestead and In This We are Native
“A stunning debut novel, perceptive and provocative, in part about the growing pains of a region. Blew offers piercing insights into people who define themselves by their traditions and who must learn to come to terms with the encroachment of the new West.”—Joy Passanante, author of The Art of Absence
“Mary Clearman Blew’s novel Jackalope Dreams is a marvel, a story that’s as evocative as the West and as inventive as its mythology. Like the Jackalope itself, the novel explores a new reality grafted on the bones of the old. New-day survivalists clash with the tourist industry, ranchers struggle to keep their livelihood while developers bring in the big machines, and amidst it all, one woman risks everything to take in a troubled child. This is clearly the work of a master storyteller, a writer at the peak of her craft.”—Claire Davis, author of Winter Range