Wyoming author Nina McConigley wants to give back to the literary culture that fostered her work, most notably her story collection "Cowboys and East Indians."
McConigley looks back at her youth in Wyoming with a keen awareness of the role independent bookstores played in her life. Now she is giving back to the stores that helped to foster her career with a reading series aimed at bringing prominent authors to the Cowboy State.
The first event in McConigley’s Jackalope Reading Series is slated for Wednesday at Second Story Books in Laramie.
“I really want people to come inside the great independent bookstores in Wyoming,” McConigley said. “They have been amazing to me and I know people buy most of their books from Amazon these days and I hate that. I want people to go to a bookstore, pick up that book and read.”
McConigley, who teaches at the University of Wyoming, said there is no substitute for buying a book from an independent bookseller that can tailor the reading experience to the customer.
Her goal isn’t simply to get people in bookstores. McConigley wants to promote literary art much the same as other forms of art are promoted in the state.
“Wyoming has a lot of great music and a lot of great visual art culture in a lot of ways, but there aren’t many readings happening,” McConigley said. “The literary culture is something that I would like to see be more vibrant.”
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Even with a venue and willing authors, putting together a reading series in Wyoming has its challenges.
“It’s hard to get authors into Wyoming because it’s expensive,” McConigley said. “You have to fly in and that’s complicated. One great thing that I have is a lot of friends that are writers. I’m willing to drive my friends from their readings in Denver for readings [in Wyoming]. A lot of them love to come to Wyoming, but getting here is expensive and hard.”
The first reading will feature Josh Weil, author of "The Great Glass Sea," and Mike Harvkey, author of "In the Course of Human Events."
Weil’s "The Great Glass Sea" is a novel about brotherly love in the harsh environment of a dystopian present-day Russia.
He is traveling the country to read his book in stores across the country, including his stop in Laramie.
Harvkey’s "In the Course of Human Events" is a novel about an economic collapse that forces the main character to scratch out an existence among the underworld of his environment.
Although the first reading features fiction writers, McConigley said she doesn’t want to focus solely on one genre, but rather quality writing. She is tapping her network of friends for upcoming readings. Although the lineup isn’t set in stone, upcoming readings will likely feature poetry and a non-fiction author.
The name of the series echoes her sentiment.
“I want this to be a hybrid,” McConigley said. “I just want it to be a mix of all things.”
Reach general assignment reporter Trevor Graff at 307-266-0639 or Trevor.Graff@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @TrevGraff.