In All Hat, Stephen W. Long reconnects us with improbable hero Owen Youniacutt, a big-rig driver whose aspirations are simple: he wants to keep the greasy side down, watch his kids grow, love his wife, and – every now and again – paint a decent landscape. What he doesn’t want is to become anything like his blustering, philandering, and now deceased father. Be careful what you DON’T wish for.
When Owen is falsely, and ironically, accused of soliciting a prostitute, his wife bars him from their Southern California home. Unsure where to turn, he picks the worst option from a list of bad ideas. He flees to his roots, the Lightnin’ Y cattle ranch in South Dakota, home of old demons, a lost love, and a mountain of unforgiven hurts. Add to those woes a mother suffering a mysterious, possibly fatal disease, and Owen faces the prospect of losing every good thing in his life. But within the assorted wreckage is the chance for redemption, if only he can untangle past relationships and build new ones.
Perfectly set in America’s majestic plains, the disparate characters of All Hat will either succumb to the enormity of their dilemma or relish the future’s unlimited opportunities.
Jim Bass is a twenty-two-year-old failed college student who sees the world through the tragedy of his sister’s death. It’s a perspective that sets him on a journey that starts with misunderstanding and whose path is self-delusion, but whose destination might just be redemption.
There’s a Somebody begins as Jim, having dropped out of school days before graduation, abandons both the woman he loves more than anything else, and the daughter he has yet to meet. A loner by nature, Jim builds a successful business in an attempt to fill the void in his life and to have, as he puts it “… something people can point to, a number, something no one can deny.” But while he’s good at racking up miles and socking away dollars, one misstep leads to another in his personal life until he’s in danger of losing everyone he cares about.
Luckily, he finds improbable guidance along the way. There’s Mrs. Garcia, a sage and practical neighbor who knows the pain of loss in her own life. And Owen Youniacutt, truck driver, serious drinker, and business partner. As Owen can attest, Jim has no lock on poor choices. Then there’s the new girlfriend, Niki. What happens when you love someone, just not enough? Jim is about to find out.
In an age when “growing up” is something to be avoided, Jim Bass bucks the trend. He wants the wife, the child, the stability. But as he discovers, even when you don’t get what you want, it’s still possible to weave together a pretty good life.
In the anthology Prism you learn how an Indian boy’s death brought understanding between cultures, how the image in a broken mirror became an ally to a troubled wife, and how a disabled boy found powerful if transient joy while sailing with his father. That and more awaits in this collection of fiction, memoir and poetry from Oregon’s Easy Writers.