A.B. “Bud” Guthrie, Jr. deserves a place in the front ranks of American writers. A new biography of Guthrie, published earlier this year, should help cement the Pulitzer Prize winners place among the best who have ever written about the West. I hope, as well, that it might renew an interest in Guthrie’s amazing body of work.
The book – Under the Big Sky – A Biography of A.B. Guthrie, Jr. – by Jackson J. Benson was published by the University of Nebraska Press. Benson has also written fine biographies of Wallace Stegner and John Steinbeck.
Guthrie was a successful newspaper editor in Kentucky when he was awarded a Neiman Fellowship at Harvard and while studying there he finished his first novel – The Big Sky – published in 1947. He followed with The Way West and was awarded the Pulitzer in 1950.
After moving permanently to Montana in 1956, Guthrie became a more outspoken conservationist and, to some, a bit of a crank. I think his personality was in keeping with the western characters he created – independent, pithy and always in touch with the land.
If you are in the market for a great late summer read, go search out Benson’s fine new biography or one of the Guthrie titles. You won’t be disappointed.