By Jesse Sailer, Sport Editor
One of Ohio Wesleyans hidden gems, Robert Olmstead, was welcomed back after a semester’s leave on a book tour to do a live reading of his newest novel Savage Country.
The live reading in the Benes Room was the kickoff event of the spring semester orchestrated by faculty of the English department. He was introduced by English department chair Zach Long and OWU literary magazine member Laura Heaney.
Before holding the current position of director of creative writing at OWU, Olmstead served as senior writing in residence at Dickinson College and as director of creative writing at Boise State.
Olmstead is the author of nine published works including Coal Black Horse, Far Bright Star, and The Coldest Night.
While most of his books are works of fiction, Stay Here With Me is his sole autobiography and takes a look back on his early life living on his grandfather’s New Hampshire dairy farm.
Savage Country follows the lives of Elizabeth and her brother in law Michael in Kansas of 1873. Elizabeth is forced to deal with her husband’s accumulation of debt after his passing and embarks on a buffalo hunt that could be her last chance to save what she has left.
KIRKUS’ review remarks Savage Country as “Another gorgeous, brutal masterpiece from a great American writer.”
“Two things compel me, one has to do with my own curiosity, wanting to know and the other is the child in me is always up for a great adventure,” Olmstead said in response to what inspired him to write this novel.
“He has such a way with words and the images he’s able to paint in your mind are absolutely breathtaking,” junior Mona Lynch said.
When it comes to his research process into the content of his next book, he likes to look at late nineteenth century yellow backs. Yellow backs were cheap novels with yellow cloth binding that included “sensational fiction” and adventure stories.
Olmstead has always been intrigued to see what captures the reader’s attention in those books and he tries to bring that into his work as much as he can.
Writing historically accurate fiction novels and westerns has also opened his eyes to many of the truths of American history. A large part of Savage Country focuses on wild buffalo and the hunt of wild buffalo.
Olmstead spent some time educating the audience on the reason behind the massive extinction of buffalo during the 1980’s and it was because the industrial revolution and the demand for buffalo hide.
“There is such amnesia about that, we’re made to think they disappeared due to gluttony and sinfulness but it couldn’t be further from the truth,” Olmstead said.