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Let’s Talk About It: Group discusses Peavey book

David Barber of Moscow discusses the differences between the Let’s Talk About It series book “Bitterbrush Country” and “We Sagebrush Folks.”

David Barber of Moscow discusses the differences between the Let’s Talk About It series book “Bitterbrush Country” and “We Sagebrush Folks.”

GRANGEVILLE — “Sagebrush is like camphor for the soul,” smiled Shelley Dumas of Grangeville. “I grew up in northern Idaho and therefore, trees. But when I came to Idaho’s sagebrush area I absolutely loved it.

Dumas and a group of five spent Tuesday evening, March 24, discussing the book “Bitterbrush Country” by Diane Josephy Peavey. Peavey’s book is a collection of essays, which were produced for Boise’s National Public Radio and tells about her life on the Flat Top Sheep Ranch northeast of Carey.

Scholar David Barber of Moscow provided questions and extra material on Peavey and led the discussion on her book.

“What did you like? What would you have liked to have seen more of?” he asked? “What does she tell us and what doesn’t she tell us?”

Several readers said they felt the book was “impersonal.”

“Remember, there’s a big difference in the West and where she came from in the East,” commented Colleen Wilson of Cottonwood.

Kristin Frish of Cottonwood said she felt the author was conflicted in some of her essays – such as how she first felt about wolves and how she later came to regard them.

Participants also felt the writings were missing out on some key details of the beauty of the area in which Peavey lives.

“To be fair, she wrote the vignettes during a period of many years of the radio,” Barber said. “There were probably things she just could not go into detail about for a three-to-five-minute show.”

Anne Chapman of the White Bird area said she enjoyed reading some of the essays, which reminded her of growing up in American Falls and how her family used to camp each summer in the Ketchum area.

The last book to be read for the “America in the Modern Rural West” Let’s Talk About It program will be held Tuesday, April 14, at Grangeville Centennial Library, 5:30 p.m. The final book in the series is The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall with scholar Jennifer Ladino. Those who wish to read the book and participate in the discussion can pick up a copy at GCL. Call Debbie at 983-0552.

Since 1985, Let’s Talk About It has been bringing adult reading discussion groups together with humanities scholars in Idaho’s public libraries to discuss literature. These book readings and discussions explore American values, history, culture, aging, and classics.

The Let’s Talk About It program is made possible by the Idaho Humanities Council; the National Endowment for the Humanities; a generous gift from USBancorp Foundation; and a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which administers the Library Services and Technology Act. The program is administered by the Idaho Commission for Libraries. Locally, it is sponsored by Friends of the Grangeville Centennial Library.


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