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Sample Autograph Signature: Craig Lesley

American author of comtemporary western novels. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Craig Lesley is an author, educator, editor, and essayist. He was born in The Dalles, at mid-20th Century a small Oregon town on the banks of the Columbia River. His father abandoned his family while Lesley was still quite young. A stepfather, a tough railroad man, made life so difficult that Lesley’s mother fled with him and his baby sister and wound up on Central Oregon’s Warm Springs Indian Reservation where she found work. Lesley’s fiction is informed by his sense of place – in his case, the small central Oregon towns where he grew up – as well as by the struggle to understand the dynamic between fathers and sons. The protagonist of his novels Winterkill and Riversong, is a Nez Perce, Danny Kachiah. Danny, a failed rodeo-rider, is thrust into the role of fatherhood after his estranged wife is killed in an auto accident. Danny attempts to teach his son Jack traditional ways and to lead him away from rodeo life. Their journey leads them through a forest fire, apple-picking camps, and to the banks of the Columbia to fish salmon. They team up with an old Yakima Indian and become engaged in the fishing right disputes that have affected the Indians of the Columbia for years. In The Sky Fisherman yet another boy finds the path to manhood after the death of his father, and in Storm Riders a father struggles to raise an adopted Native American son (as did Lesley) who suffers from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. These novels are not only informed by Lesley’s personal life and search for the meaning of fatherhood; they are also deeply imbued with a sense of the land and the people of hardworking rural Oregon. Lesley’s memoir, Burning Fence, examines his personal history and describes his search for his own father, Rudell - a coyote trapper, hunter, “tavern brawler” and fence builder whom he locates in Monument, Oregon. Lesley attributes his own success to his desire to prove his personal strength, since his mother described Rudell as “weak.” Lesley’s books have received numerous awards, including three Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, the Western Writers of American Golden Spur Award, and the Oregon Book Award’s H.L. Davis Prize for Fiction. His novels have twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He has also edited several anthologies and literary magazines.

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Author: Craig Lesley

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