Colorado toasts its best literature in Aspen

Jeff Burch and his wife, Kim Guthrie-Burch. Jeff is the author of “The Peaks of Telluride: Labeled Images and Stories Behind the Names of The Mountains Surrounding Telluride, Colorado.”

Dave Buchanan and Margie Wilson. Buchanan is the author of “Drink It In: Wine Guide of Western Colorado.” Wilson is the owner of Grand Valley Books.

Charlie Quimby and his wife, Susan Cushman. Quimby is the author of “Monument Road.”

Frank H. Coons and his wife, Teresa Coons. Frank is the author of “Finding Cassiopeia.”

Colorado Book Award winners were announced at the elegant and historic Hotel Jerome in Aspen on Friday — a beautiful setting in which to celebrate the most artfully crafted literature in the state.

A list of the winners follows. No Western Slope authors claimed the top prize, save for Linda Lafferty of Aspen, who was unable to attend. But that didn’t deter anyone from enjoying the ceremony or reflecting on the achievement of being named a finalist. I was able to catch up with some of our local attendees following the ceremony.

“I never expected this about my work,” said Jeff Burch, glancing at the assembled authors, then motioning to Red Mountain, looming outside a picture window. “I’d be more at home on top of that mountain than in this room.” Burch is the author of “The Peaks of Telluride: Labeled Images and Stories Behind the Names of The Mountains Surrounding Telluride, Colorado.”

The most rewarding outcome of the research for his book was having Bridal Peak officially granted its historic name, Burch said. Now if he can just find a couple to get married on the thirteener, he’ll volunteer to officiate, and he already knows what he’ll say: “I now pronounce you man and wife. It’s all downhill from here!”

Margie Wilson, owner of Grand Valley Books, 350 Main St., and a former Aspen resident, came to support local authors. “They’ve all just demonstrated they have what it takes,” she said. “They have stories to tell and wonderful personalities. As a bookseller, I want to support them because they support me.”

Charlie Quimby, author of “Monument Road,” joked that he was prepared for either outcome with two pairs of glasses. Winning authors were asked to read from their book, so he brought reading glasses, should that be the case. He also brought polarized sunglasses to hide behind, his “crying glasses.”

No tears were shed, however. Quimby said he has been busy with readings from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Crested Butte and is hard at work on his next novel, which also will be set in Grand Junction.

Frank Coons, author of “Finding Cassiopeia,” enjoyed the camaraderie and congratulations of fellow authors. “I think the life of the author is this constant battle between bravado and depression,” he joked. Outside affirmation provides a “jolt of adrenaline.”

Congratulations to the 2014 Colorado Book Award winners. And if you’re looking for some summer reading inspiration, you can’t go wrong with this list:

■ Biography: “Ernest L. Blumenschein: The Life of an American Artist” by Robert W. Larson & Carole B. Larson (University of Oklahoma Press)

■ Children’s Literature: “The Tumbleweed Came Back” by Carmela LaVigna-Coyle & Kevin Rechin (Rio Chico)

■ Creative Nonfiction: “Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food” by BK Loren (Counterpoint Press)

■ General Nonfiction: “Tasting Colorado: Favorite Recipes from the Centennial State” by Michele Morris (Farcountry Press)

■ Genre Fiction: “Changes” by Pamela Nowak (Five Star)

■ Historical Fiction: “The Drowning Guard: A Novel of the Ottoman Empire” by Linda Lafferty (Lake Union Publishing)

■ History: “Denver Mountain Parks: 100 Years of the Magnificent Dream” by Erika D. Walker, Wendy Rex-Atzet, Sally L. White, W. Bart Berger, Thomas J. Noel, & John Fielder (John Fielder Publishing)

■ Juvenile Literature: “Grave Images” by Jenny Goebel (Scholastic)

■ Literary Fiction: “Little Raw Souls” by Steven Schwartz (Autumn House Press)

■ Memoir: “I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail” by Gail D. Storey (Mountaineers Books)

■ Mystery: “Desperado: A Mile High Noir” by Manuel Ramos (Arte Publico Press)

■ Pictorial: “Firmament: A Meditation on Place in Three Parts” by Andrew Beckham (George F. Thompson Publishing)

■ Poetry: “Natural Takeover of Small Things” by Tim Z. Hernandez (The University of Arizona Press)

■ Poetry/Chapbook: “Ndewo, Colorado” by Uche Ogbuji (Aldrich Press)

■ Thriller/Suspense: “Double Dare” by Michael Madigan (Adventure Publications)

■ Young Adult Literature: “Ascendant” by Rebecca Taylor (Crescent Moon Press)

Have news about local authors, bookstores, book clubs or writing groups? Email Laurena Mayne Davis at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Davis is the director of marketing and product development for The Daily Sentinel.


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