August by Callan Wink - review by Melanie White

Melanie White

How the West was Written



Granta Books 304pp £14.99

Montana writer Callan Wink’s debut novel, August, revolves around the coming of age and inevitable growing pains of the titular hero, who moves with his divorced mother from Michigan to ‘big sky country’ as a teenager. When a friend gives him an inquisitive puppy and says, ‘She’s trying to figure out what kind of person you are,’ August replies, ‘Oh yeah? … Her and me both.’ From childhood on his parents’ dairy farm, through an isolated adolescence and a formative affair with an older woman, to early adulthood working on a ranch, August’s struggles remain mostly internal as he tries to understand himself and the wider world.

The expanse of the West plays a big part: ‘August realized that a landscape could shape your hopes and expectations for what life might possibly have to offer.’ While the Rockies dominate the visible terrain, the impact parents have on their children forms the book’s giant, submerged theme. Talking with

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