In Open Spaces

by Russell Rowland

Russell Rowland with
Grandpa Arbuckle

Russell Rowland has an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. He has published three novels. In Open Spaces (2002) received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and made the San Francisco Chronicle's bestseller list. The sequel, The Watershed Years (2007), was a finalist for the High Plains Book Award for fiction, as was his third novel, High and Inside (2013). He also co-edited an anthology of essays by writers from the West, West of 98: Living and Writing the New American West. He currently lives in Billings, Montana, where he teaches at Montana State University Billings.

In Open Spaces tells the story of Blake Arbuckle’s coming of age on the family ranch in Carter County, Montana. Beginning in the 1910s and concluding in the 1940s, the novel shows how Blake navigates tragedy, family conflict, tough weather and the ranching business. Blake turns out to be a survivor with a penchant for dry wit and a great curve ball. Rowland’s novel locates the reader in an often overlooked part of the state through the self-effacing but engaging voice of his protagonist.

While the settings in In Open Spaces clearly reference actual locales, it is understood that the book—including its places—is ultimately the product of the author's imagination. The intent of this literary map is to enrich the reading experience by interpreting those places, not to render them literally or definitively.