Content Tagged ‘Callan Wink’

On location with Callan Wink

This installment of On Location comes from Ecotone contributor Callan Wink, whose story, “Off the Track,” appears in issue 14, our Abnormal issue.

Guide’s Day Off (The Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, Montana)


For the past ten years I’ve spent my summers as a fly fishing guide on the Yellowstone River. Every season is a blur. Montana summers are short, a relatively small window in which a fishing guide needs to make as much money as possible. Long hours on the water, sometimes over thirty days in row without a break. Up early to prep for the day. Coffee and more coffee. Meeting your clients. Figuring out what section to float, i.e. “the plan”—an arcane mix of informed luck and gut instincts honed by countless days on the water. The Yellowstone is a huge river system, and we guide on over one hundred winding miles of it. A dynamic, ever-shifting waterway that seems to change wildly from season to season, day to day. You pick your stretch and you go and sometimes you catch them and sometimes you don’t. You have lunch and point out eagles and talk about the old Native American buffalo jump across the river over there, and eventually you’re pulling into the take-out spot. You drop your clients at their hotel and then you go to the Murray Bar where most of the other guides straggle in to drink and bullshit. Sometimes the fishing is good and everyone is in high spirits—easy money, large tips. Sometimes, in late August, the doldrums, the fishing is slow and the sun is hot and everyone is short tempered and burnt.

Sometimes your boat knocked them dead on a day when everyone else struggled—you feel like you have it all figured out and gloat quietly to yourself. You’re the fish whisperer. The next day your luck changes, you make the wrong call, your plan is flawed, your clients manage only a few anemic whitefish, one of them snags you in the cheek with his fly. But, as these things go, eventually the end of the day comes and you load your boat on the trailer and drop the clients at their hotel and you go to the Murray Bar. You’re out of the sun and the air conditioning is delicious and, without speaking, the bartender ignores a queue of thirsty tourists to present you with your customary summer drink: a fishbowl of ice-cold vodka with fresh squeezed lemon and lime. Soon enough the other guides are there and the bullshit commences. On and on. A summer’s worth of it. Fish and sun and cash and Texas oilmen and daily immersion in the most captivating river you’ve ever seen.

Occasionally you get a day off. You’re going to do laundry, pay your bills, fix the growing number of things on your truck and boat that have become broken through hard use. You’re going to sleep in.

Of course, that’s not what you do. You’re up early by habit. Coffee and more coffee. You get on the phone and rally everyone you can think of who might have the day off as well. You make a plan. It comes together slowly, people drop out, people join up, but eventually everyone converges on the river. There are boats and dogs and bikinis and radios and Frisbees and coolers of beer. Someone has a battery-powered blender and there are margaritas. There are no fishing rods, though. That’s the general rule. All gear and paraphernalia pertaining to the hooking of trout are left at home. Anyone uncouth enough to buck the trend and try to fish will get ridiculed, blasted with water cannons, harassed by stick-chasing dogs.

A fishing guide’s day off. Tomorrow you’ll be back out there, hustling for trout and tips. Today though, you’re swimming, you’ve got a margarita, if you’re lucky, your girlfriend is rowing your boat.

There’s an eagle and when it flies over everyone points. You’ve seen it a thousand times and it’s still goddamn majestic.

Callan Wink was born in Michigan in 1984 and now works as a fishing guide on the Yellowstone River in Montana. His work has been published in the New Yorker, Granta, and The Best American Short Stories. His first book, Dog Run Moon, was released yesterday.

News Roundup

the_family_coverWe’re going to tackle recognition as the common thread tying together this week’s roundup of Ecotone and Lookout news. Ecotone contributor Jeff Sharlet took some e-mail bait this week and wrote back to a writer demanding an audience for his work, in this powerful and thoughtful essay for LitHub. “We read by hope and hint and free association, because publishing isn’t a meritocracy, it’s a vast, often unjust and always clumsy empire of too many words, including our own,” Jeff says, and ain’t it the truth. Those competing forces–to read, to write, to publish–are often so hard to balance.

w204In part, it’s why this column exists–to recognize the writers in our family who are getting the publications and awards and attention they so deserve. We like to toot their horns ever-louder. Which isn’t to say that it’s only the writers who win the awards or the grants who deserve our attention–we know that’s not the case, and we love championing work in Ecotone and Lookout from writers just starting out or writers whose voices have had trouble finding the right home for their work. But as Jeff so rightly points out (writing at one point about the incredibly talented Vievee Francis, also an Ecotone contributor)–the writers who succeed write, and often struggle to keep writing. For years, very often, before the publications or awards come, if they come at all. And when the recognition for those persevering writers does come, that’s something worth celebrating.

9781555977283Today we’re honored to honor writers who are getting, this week, the recognition they’re due after so much hard work. We hope you’ll click through and read something if you’re not familiar with them.

Ecotone contributor Callan Wink’s forthcoming story collection, Dog Run Moon, has gotten some great attention this week in this preview of 2016 story collections from Barnes and Noble. His story, “Off the Track,” was published back in Ecotone 14, and we’re so happy to see Callan’s book coming out these years later–check out the story on our website.

forest-primevalPaul Lisicky’s memoir, The Narrow Door, a story of friendship and art and so many other things, continues to garner praise from various media outlets. To celebrate its release, we’ve made the first chapter, “Volcano,” from our Anniversary issue, available via Ecotone’s site.

Vievee Frances, mentioned in Jeff’s essay, got some other much-deserved attention this week. Her book Forest Primeval is a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award. You can read one of her poems from the book on Ecotone‘s site here.

Pearlman_HoneydewYou all know what champions we are of Edith Pearlman’s work, having published Binocular Vision in 2011. We’re thrilled to see that her new collection of stories, Honeydew, made the Story Prize long list on Saturday.

The Virginia Festival of the Book, recognizing authors and books for twelve years now,  announced this year’s events, including a panel with Lookout author Matthew Neill Null called “Haunted Souls and Public Hangings.” See the full lineup of panels and activities here.

And the NEA announced its fall Literature Fellows–we’re so proud to see Ecotone contributors Vedran Husic and David Philip Mullins on the list.

Whether you’re feeling recognized or not, whether you’re waiting for some props or writing in a secret quiet space, we hope the reading and writing are bringing you great joy and satisfaction this week. We know it can be hard. Trust us. Keep fighting to say what you need to say, and we hope to see your work soon.