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A life in the northern reaches of Montana

March 31, 2011

As a child, David Mogen, professor of English at CSU, recalls telling his father that he wished the family could live in the West.

Amused, his father replied that that was exactly where they were – living in the Hi-Line country of Montana, which Mogen describes as “the flat expanse of country that lies hard against the Canadian border east of the Rockies.”

Mogen recently published the book, Honyocker Dreams, a memoir that chronicles his own memories of growing up in small Montana towns in the 1950s as well as earlier experiences of his pioneering family members as they struggled to put down roots in Montana.

“I began writing this memoir years before I knew what I was doing,” Mogen said. “In the title story of my book, I recount how I first began integrating personal anecdotes from my childhood about growing up in small towns on the Montana Hi-Line into my scholarship.”

In the book, Mogen addresses the challenges faced by settlers in the American West and opens a window on a little-known area of the country.

Deeply connected

During the frontier period in American history, “Honyocker” was a derogatory term often used by ranchers for settlers who built homesteads in the West and fenced off open land. For Mogen’s family and others like them, the term eventually came to signify their deep connection to the homes they built and the land they worked.

“Most fundamentally, this book attempts to reconstruct two eras that have passed – primarily the postwar, small-town Montana world of my own childhood and, more speculatively, the Montana homesteading frontier world in which my parents and their pioneer ancestors grew up,” Mogen writes.

Reading at CSU Bookstore

Mogen will present a reading from Honyocker Dreams at 7:30 p.m. April 5 at the CSU Bookstore in the Lory Student Center. 

Specialty in Western life

As a professor of English at CSU, Mogen specializes in literature of the West, Native American literature, science fiction and special topics in frontier mythology and science-related literature. He is author of Wilderness Visions: The Western Theme in Science Fiction Literature and Ray Bradbury. He also is co-editor of two other books: Frontier Gothic: Terror and Wonder at the Frontier in American Literature and The Frontier Experience and the American Dream.

Honyocker Dreams is published by the University of Nebraska Press and is available directly from the publisher. The memoir can also be found at the CSU Bookstore and online retailers.

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