–Pamela Lehman Meyer
From the obituary in the Missoulian by Cory Walsh December 5:
“What we find in these stories, over and over again, is talk of home, lost or sought after, or in some conditional way discovered or rediscovered—the possibility of a coherent life in a last best place” — William Kittredge, “The Last Best Place”
A novelist, essayist, teacher and “dean of Western literature.”
A raconteur, astute critic and the one who first called Montana, The Last Best Place.
Fellow writers and friends all remembered the various facets of the life and work of William “Bill” Kittredge, after his death on Friday at age 88.
As a writer, he was best known for his 1992 memoir about his youth on an Oregon ranch, Hole in the Sky, and a collection of essays, Owning it All. He co-created “The Last Best Place,” a 1,200-page anthology of Montana literature, from the earliest Indigenous storytelling to the present. He coined the title phrase himself, which has become an unofficial state motto that he fought to keep from a private trademark.
As a 30-year emeritus professor, he helped build the reputation of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana, mentoring generations of authors.
“He needs to be celebrated for the way he encouraged the Western voice and writing about Montana at a time when it wasn’t the most popular thing to do,” said writer and friend Lois Welch. He developed “a literary West” as opposed to the Hollywood movies that defined the region in the popular imagination…