Wyoming Arts Council

New West: Why Cody, Wyoming is the New Literary Capital of America

Jenny Shank has a lot of fun exploring Cody’s literary contributions to the world in New West:

Claiming Ground, a memoir by Cody’s Laura Bell, is due out March 9, and it comes with glowing blurbs from Rick Bass, Kent Haruf, William Kittredge, and Mark Spragg. Haruf writes, “This is a book that compels you to the last sentence, both because of its sheer beauty and its profound meaning.” Spragg writes, “Laura Bell’s Claiming Ground is the finest memoir I’ve read.” I guess I’d better read it myself.

Knopf will publish [Mark] Spragg’s third novel, Bone Fire, on March 11. Spragg is also from Cody, (population 9309), which means that .0215% of Cody’s population will publish a book in March. To put that in perspective, writers in New York City (population 8,363,710) would have to publish 179,820 books in March to keep up with Cody’s per capita output. Even if you include self-published writers, I doubt New York’s scribes could produce that many volumes, especially given that about 172,000 books were published for the entire year in the United States in 2005, the most recent year for which UNESCO’s publishing statistics are available.

The column also addresses a new book by Laramie’s Alyson Hagy. It’s been a pretty good year for recipients of Wyoming Arts Council creative writing fellowships. Bell, Hagy and Spragg all have won WAC fellowships.

Read the entire New West column here:
Why Cody, Wyoming is the New Literary Capital of America

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