Joe Wilkins, Fall Back Down When I Die
Joe Wilkins joins us to read from his debut novel Fall Back Down When I Die, published by Little, Brown. The book tells the story of Wendell Newman, a young ranch hand in Montana who has recently lost his mother. Wendell is broke and owes back taxes on his parent's land. Into this situation comes seven-year-old Rowdy Burns, the mute and traumatized son of Wendell's incarcerated cousin. Wendell, as the boy's only remaining relative, must care for him. What is initially an ordeal turns into an unexpected and affectionate bond, one that is stretched to the breaking point during the first legal wolf hunt in Montana in more than thirty years. This haunting novel is an unforgettable tale of sacrificial love, with two indelible characters who win the reader's heart from the first page to the last. Jess Walter says "Joe Wilkins is a writer of great power and heart, and Fall Back Down When I Die is a riveting and timely novel.”
Joe was born and raised north of the Bull Mountains, out on the Big Dry of eastern Montana. His award-winning memoir The Mountain and the Father captures the lives of boys and men in that desolate country. He is also the author of three poetry collections, most recently When We Were Birds, winner of the 2017 Oregon Book Award for Poetry. He is a Pushcart Prize winner and a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the PEN/USA Award. After graduating from Gonzaga University with a degree in computer engineering, Wilkins spent two years teaching ninth grade pre-algebra in the Mississippi Delta with Teach For America. He then went on to earn his MFA in creative writing from the University of Idaho, where he worked with the poet Robert Wrigley and the memoirist Kim Barnes. Wilkins now lives with his family in the foothills of the Coast Range of western Oregon, where he directs the creative writing program at Linfield College.