In an extraordinary tale of love and forgiveness, Mark Spragg brings us this novel of a complex, prodigal homecoming.
After escaping the last of a long string of abusive boyfriends, Jean Gilkyson and her ten-year-old daughter Griff have nowhere left to go. Nowhere except Ishawooa, Wyoming, where Jean’s estranged father-in-law, Einar, still blames her for the death of his son. Though Einar isn’t glad to see either of them, Griff falls in love with his sprawling ranch and quiet way of life, as she slowly gets to know his crippled old friend Mitch, the cats that lurk in the barn at milking time, and finally the grandfather she had lost for so many years. An emotionally charged story of hard-won friendship and reconciliation, An Unfinished Life shows a novelist of extraordinary talents in the fullness of his powers.
Courtesy of Random House
About the Author:
Career: Screenwriter for films produced by Carolco, Warner Bros., Tristar, and Touchstone Pictures; essayist and fiction writer.
Mark Spragg’s boyhood in rural Wyoming has been an enduring influence in his work. In 1997, Spragg edited Thunder of the Mustangs: Legend and Lore of the Wild Horses, which focuses on one of the most romanticized symbols of the American West. The illustrated book contains pieces by such writers as Charles M. Russell, J. Frank Dobie, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Dayton O. Hyde, Ben K. Green, Laura Bell, and Lynne Bama; Spragg also contributed a piece. The following year, his screenplay of a father and son in contemporary Wyoming and Montana, Everything That Rises, was broadcast on television. The film was chosen as a finalist for best teleplay at the 1999 PEN Center USA West literary awards.
With his own memoir, however, Spragg achieved even wider recognition. Where Rivers Change Direction recounts a life of wrangling, hunting, adolescent crushes and pranks, and intense family dynamics during the 1960s on a dude ranch in Wyoming’s high Yellowstone Plateau. The book received consistently favorable response. In the view of Library Journal reviewer Sue Samson, the book “wraps the reader in the landscape, the life, and the essence of Wyoming.” A writer for Publishers Weekly described the book as a “brave and beautiful coming-of-age memoir” that “weds the venerable Western tradition of frontier exploration or self and nature with the masculine school of writing stretching from Hemingway to Mailer.” Such nature writers as Teresa Jordan, Terry Tempest Williams, Larry McMurtry, and Gretel Ehrlich also praised the book.
Spragg spent much of 2011 making appearances to help promote “Bone Fire,” which featured a number of characters – including Einar Gilkyson and his granddaughter Griff.
Other works by the Author:
Thunder of the Mustangs: Legend and Lore of the Wild Horses, (Editor) Sierra Club Books (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
Everything That Rises (television movie), Turner Network Television, 1998
Where Rivers Change Direction (memoir), University of Utah Press (Salt Lake City, UT), 1999.
The Fruit of Stone, Riverhead, 2002.
Bone Fire: A Novel, Knopf,(New York) 2010
Neltje Blanchan Memorial Award, Wyoming Arts Council, 1989;
Arts Council Literary fellowship, 2000
Mountains and Plains Book Award for nonfiction, 2000
Wyoming State Historical Society Publication Award for fiction
Editor’s Choice of Best Fiction for 2004 Booklist
PECCenter USA fiction award finalist 2005
HIGHS AND LOWS: In 2007, Spragg did a number of one-book reading
programs, including several days in Fort Collins, Colo.
One place he didn’t go was Salt Lake City, Utah, where a program run by the Salt Lake County Library System rescinded its invitation when the system’s director said a staffer “jumped the gun” by inviting Spragg before an ad hoc committee could make the selection. The panel decided against choosing the author because the library system promoted his book the previous year under a reader’s choice program, the director said.
Bone Fire: A Novel was published on March 9, 2010. Bonefire takes place many years after An Unfinished Life and is once again set in Ishawoa, Wyoming. It continues the story of Einar Gilkyon, now 80 and taking stock of his life.
Updated Jan. 12, 2011