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Reimagining the Old West

The Return of Kid Cooper is the latest novel by Brad Smith, who has been called "a writer to watch, a comet on the horizon" by the likes of Dennis Lehane. It's the story of old-school cowboy Nate Cooper who has just been released after thirty years in a Montana prison serving for a false murder conviction. It's 1910 and the world has changed—but Nate Cooper hasn't. He returns to his Northern Montana ranching town a free man and stirs up controversy immediately—seeking justice, evading hired guns, brawling in saloons, righting past wrongs, and ferreting out—with the help of a young newspaper reporter and the woman he used to love—a fraudulent boundary adjustment robbing the Blackfoot (again) of their territory. Along the way, he ruffles feathers all the way to the State House, and before the storm he brings is over, he and the friends of his youth will all pay a shockingly high price for justice.

In this list, Smith shares some titles that have helped inspire his own. 


Roughing It in the Bush, by Susannah Moodie

Maybe the book that started …

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Brad Smith Goes Looking for a Story


Book Cover Crows Landing

“Where do you find your stories?” is probably the most common (and least welcome) question a writer is asked. It has been said that Shakespeare wrote about every story that ever existed, so that leaves it to the rest of us to come up with variants on his tales. Sometimes these spring from pure imagination, and sometimes they originate in life. And sometimes the best place to track down true life is in the pages of that disappearing dinosaur—the newspaper.

My novel Busted Flush is the story of a man, Dock Bass, who—while renovating an old farmhouse near Gettysburg, Pa—stumbles upon a motherlode of Abraham Lincoln-related artifacts. Bass is then inundated with offers for the stuff, the offers coming from collectors, hustlers, dealers and other assorted ne-er-do-wells. I first came up with the idea after hearing that Sotheby’s in New York auctioned off JFK’s golf clubs for the sum of $770,000. I started thinking about the world of collectibles—and about the desire of certain people to own things connected, however tenuously, to a historical figure or even a minor celebrity. I attempted to tailor the JFK story to the Canadian landscape but I found, alas, that nobody really cared about John Deifenbaker’s three wood. So I settled on Honest Abe.

In Red …

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