Crossing the Plains with Bruno

Annick Smith (Author)

Product Details

$17.95  $16.51
Trinity University Press
Publish Date
October 06, 2015
5.5 X 0.6 X 8.5 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

Annick Smith is a writer and filmmaker of Jewish-Hungarian descent whose work deals primarily with the literature and history of Montana, memoir, travel, and environmental issues. She has worked as a high school teacher, a book editor for the University of Washington Press, and an editor for the Montana Business Quarterly. She is known for her film credits, which include Heartland, co-producer of Robert Redford's adaptation of Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It, and associate producer of Peacock's War. Smith is a founding board member of the Sundance Film Institute and the founder of the Hellgate Writers, a literary center in Missoula. Her books include Homestead, Big Bluestem, and The Last Best Place, which she edited with William Kittredge. Her articles, poems, and stories have appeared in Audubon, Outside, National Geographic Traveler, Story, and elsewhere. She has lived in Montana since 1964.


"Annick Smith invites a chocolate Labrador retriever named Bruno to hop up into her Toyota 4Runner for a road trip from her home outside Missoula, Mont., to the North Side of Chicago. But what follows is more expansive than a simple drive eastward; Smith is letting us eavesdrop on an illuminating meditation on time, place, friendship and family." -- The New York Times Book Review

"On a two-week road trip, Smith reflects on her life, the choices she made or that were made for her, the people she lost, and the memories that remain." -- Sunset Magazine

"This is the story of Annick Smith, told through the winding highway of her consciousness." -- The Missoulian

"Crossing the Plains succeeds because of Smith's storytelling expertise... [Smith] does a fantastic job of weaving all the elements together so the moments pulled from memory don't distract from the events happening with Bruno beside her. As for Bruno, we should all be so lucky to have such a worthy travel companion accompany us as we go down the road." -- Missoula Independent

"Writer and filmmaker Smith traces journeys within journeys as she chronicles a cross-country drive with Bruno, her affectionate chocolate Labrador retriever, from her home in Montana to Chicago, where she grew up, the daughter of Jewish Hungarian immigrants. She is traveling to visit her 97-year-old mother and to take her to the family's Lake Michigan beach house. Smith's trip drums up memories and musings which she shares in a warm, vivid, and evocative narrative as mesmerizing as the two-lane highways she navigates. Stops along the way trigger fascinating looks into the lives of Native Americans, Jewish and women homesteaders, and other western writers. Smith follows the paths of her parents, Helene and Stephen Deutch, who met in Paris, where Smith was born, and came to Chicago, where their artistic pursuits led to close friendships with Nelson Algren and Studs Terkel. While traveling back through her own full and adventurous life, Smith reflects with wit and wisdom on family and place, the "complexities of suffering," and the infinite varieties of joy, including the open road and a good dog's sweet company." -- Booklist

"[Annick] holds her life and the choices made--by her and for her--up to the light cast by her relationships with friends and family. She also tenderly shares the details of some of the losses in her life and examines what happens to hopes when they are fulfilled differently than one might expect and when the person doing the hoping finds herself looking backward to find her way forward." -- Kirkus

"Annick Smith's Crossing the Plains with Bruno is a rich exploration of place that digs deep into the bedrock of personal and collective memory... As Smith travels across the Plains, she weaves her memories and experience into a vivid portrait of an artist's life as well as a fascinating contemplation of the history and meaning of place and the challenges of aging and death." -- Montana Quarterly

"Annick Smith has one of the most graceful and vital relationships with time that I know of. As we see in Crossing the Plains with Bruno, she comes by it naturally. Her entire life--like Bruno's--has been one magical trail. I think that her grace comes from the comfort of her ability to inhabit both the past and the moment with that wonder and vitality. We in the West are lucky to have her, and this lovely, honest book." -- Rick Bass, author of All the Land to Hold Us

"Crossing the Plains with Bruno is proof of MartΓ­n Prechtel's belief that 'the domesticated dog in particular is an ancient master of grief.' Also of joy. I knew Bruno, and I always felt when I'd see him barreling around Annick's place up the Blackfoot that the doctor was in the house. How great to find him gleefully panting and stealing our food once more as the grande dame of Montana letters resurrects a life's worth of peaks and valleys, grieves and praises our lost and living heroes, shares her emblematic personal history, and, in beneficent, lifelong, living color, herself embodies the wild beauty and endearingly offbeat culture of her tenaciously loved 'best place'." -- David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K

"My interest in Annick Smith's life was handsomely rewarded by this tender and perceptive book. A great woman, a great dog, and a road trip in the American West. How can you miss?" -- Thomas McGuane, author of Crow Fair

"In Annick Smith's cross-country ramble with Bruno, we travel from Potomac, Montana, to Paris, from Sawyer, Michigan, to Transylvania as western, eastern European, and family history unravels in her road-weary mind. A delightful road log and reverie--fascinating, funny, and poignant." -- Gretel Ehrlich, author of Islands, Universe, Home

"Annick Smith writes with such deep intelligence, poetic sensibility, and generosity of spirit that I was entranced by her journey through loss and desire, hurt and hope, to the heart of what matters most: human connection, love of the land, and, through it all, the companionship of the dogs who grace our lives." -- Kim Barnes, author of XYZ

"Annick Smith has written the best kind of memoir, alive with observation, reflection, humor, and the lifelong swirl of love and loss. Oh, and there's a dog. Many dogs. I can't wait to give this book to my family and friends." -- Beverly Lowry, author of Crossed Over: A Murder, a Memoir

"Annick Smith is an archetype for me, modeling a life that seems as full of breadth and breath as one can be. In this rich and grounded book I am honored to travel with her across the American plains and across time, through generations and movements, into the interior of the soul and the heart of the world. Smith's net is wide as she seeks, gathers, collects, and then makes sense of what she finds. I come to understand from her that freedom is illusory. Crossing the Plains with Bruno is a wise and wonderful book." -- Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
"Smith reminds us why we long for the road, why we long to return to where we were born, what stories the land holds, and how it feels to recognize the home we have chosen for ourselves." -- Orion