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High Plains Book Awards finalist: 'The Broken World' by Tom Vandel

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Editor's note: The 16th annual High Plains Book Awards recognizes regional literary works which examine and reflect life on the High Plains, including the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. highplainsbookawards.org

The Short Stories Award recognizes a collection of short fiction by a single author.

Tom Vandel’s “The Broken World” is a finalist in the Short Stories category for the upcoming High Plains Book Awards. The book is a series of short stories that takes place in many places in Montana along with Portland, Oregon. It is Vandel’s fourth book and first short story collection.

Each of the stories begins with something going wrong that takes the story to a new and different place than expected. I will give a rough outline of some of my favorite stories without spoiling them should you want to read the book.

The first story is a free verse telling, “Two Men and a Lake,” of two fishermen, Connor and Mason, who are lifetime friends and get together for “one last trip” on Flathead Lake. A storm comes up and then things go wrong in a big way.

A second favorite is “The Confrontation” when a young man from Wolf Point goes to Portland to confront a man whom he thinks has done his mother wrong. The story moves around Portland with him until he has the final confrontation and finds out that things are not as he expected.

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Another favorite is “The Carjacking” which is about a car theft that takes place in Portland. The story follows the two men around Portland as they withdraw cash from various ATMs. Eventually it becomes clear what the cash is for, and it ends with a very imaginative outcome.

And lastly, “The Obituary” highlights the self-written obituary of a man who lives to 100 and dies the day after his 100th birthday. He was very lonely and alone, which colors the track of the story.

I believe that Tom Vandel has a bright future as an author. The writing is clever and imaginative, and he undoubtedly has a successful career ahead. I hope the book wins in its category.

Bernard Rose is a retired Professor of Economics from Rocky Mountain College and is a member of the board of the Billings Public Library Foundation and the Billings Community Foundation, among others.


You are Invited – October 8! 

Book Sale and Author Panels – 11 AM – 5 PM – Billings Public Library

Award Presentations – MSU Billings Petro Theatre 7:30 PM – no charge

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