John Bonazzo: Montana Alt-Weekly Shutdown Mirrors Demise of NYC Media Outlets

It seems an under-appreciation of the news is a condition common to billionaires beyond just the Pennsylvania Avenue one. This piece in the Observer came out a few days ago, but it’s worth a read for the story of Lee Enterprises’ Wikipedia page:

Soon after the shutdown news broke, the company’s Wikipedia page became a wailing wall.

“Lee Enterprises is a publicly traded American media company that specializes in buying well known local papers for the purposes of gutting them for everything they were once worth,” the page briefly read. “It currently is in the process of destroying 46 daily newspapers in 21 states.”

In addition, one of the page’s subject headings was changed to “Newspapers They Are Dismantling.” All of these edits were eventually replaced with more sedate language.”

It’s a shame that Wikipedia page was sanitized, but again, it appears billionaires have little tolerance for competing viewpoints, especially if it means less change for their canyon-deep pockets.

Daniel Walters: How Missoula lost Its Independent

Daniel Walters gives a rundown of how fears by Indy staffers at the alt-weekly’s sale to a corporate overlord a year ago were realized, and sooner than anyone expected.

We, The People


Hey Folks! Cutbank’s new Online Team coming at you loud and live(-ish).

Since this is our first Burn Pile post in a while, and a defining moment for us greenhorns, I’d like to take a moment to thank our dear friend Barry Maxwell for his success with the Second Wind Reading and for all his hard work on Cutbank’s Online source. I know it was it was hard work because now I’m doing half of his old job, and some forms of media are just Not. User. Friendly.

AND NOW, an Editorial

When regarding Freedom of the Press, no law may be passed that interferes with the people’s right to assemble, to print the press, or that causes the abridgement of free speech. But here’s the problem with the constitution: it is vague. In this instance, it’s the carefully worded language that “No Law May Be Passed” which leaves wiggle room for all other interested parties. There is nothing to say that a pitched battle cannot be waged over what the “Truth” is, only that our elected officials cannot infringe upon our right to debate and question it. I’m not a legal scholar, and it would take one to navigate the byzantine workings of modern governments. I will say this though: We Need the Press.

Let me back up and bring something into context here, it just came to my attention that the local alternative/Indy Newspaper here in Missoula was just shut down, as in is no longer printing the press. Well it can be hand waved as another arbitrary tide of the Free Market, or I can take this opportunity to state that the Newspaper is a dying industry. I’m a newcomer here to Missoula, so I don’t feel it’s my place to jump right into local Politics, yet if diversity of the press dies—if we, on a national level, lose the option of options, then that does not bode well for the foundational elements of a Democracy.

Plainly put, if our only options were to turn the television and choose between MSNBC, Fox, and CNN (as it is right now), we’re going to trick ourselves into thinking that the world is much smaller than it is. Problem A is that national level news outlets only care about national and international level news, servicing a ratings-based agenda. Problem B? Severe Conflict of interest. Over a year ago, it became a point of water cooler discussion, back where I’m from, about Sinclair Broadcasting Group buying up state and local level television news media. Don’t believe me? Watch this: It’s not quite the Orwellian nightmare of the novel 1984, but I find it alarming, and I hope you do as well. Is that all the problems I see? No, but they are the two-most relevant topics to this flash opinion piece.

What I’m getting at, folks, is that journalists take it upon themselves to go out into the world and question the ethics of the society we are living in. Do they have their own self-interest? Yes, and I would not trust anyone that did not operate in their self-interest. As they protect us from infringement upon our rights, safety, and morality as citizens, so too does a diverse range of reporting protect us from the private interests and agendas of journalists. To perform their functions as moderators and truth seekers, they need our support as consumers of their newspapers, and no, the truth is not something concerned with output we find agreeable to our tastes and philosophies.

The “truth” is about taking a skeptical look around us and asking earnest questions: is what is happening in our best interests as individuals? As a society? Hell, what even is our best interest? That answer comes from having thoughtful discussion, and to do that we need to be an educated and informed population. Do I have a plan to save a fading yet critical industry? No not entirely. But I hope these words get you started thinking about your own local news industry.

We’d love to hear back from the community. If you know of some local writers or journalists who worked with The Indy, send them our way.

 Click the Caption for the Original Article on the Missoulian.

Click the Caption for the Original Article on the Missoulian.

Andrew Martin to judge this year's Big Sky, Small Prose Flash Contest!

We're excited to announce that Andrew Martin will be the guest judge for our Big Sky, Small Prose: Flash Contest! His novel Early Work was just published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and his stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Zyzzyva, and Tin House’s Flash Fridays series. His nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and The Washington Post.

Submissions are still open, so get your best short prose into us by September 30 for a chance to win the $500 first place prize and publication in CutBank 90. 


Early Work

A Novel

by Andrew Martin

“Marvelous . . . Read [Early Work] on a beach for the refreshment of a classic boy-meets-girl plot, or turn the pages more slowly to soak in some truly salty koans and morally insolvent characters . . . It’s an accomplished and delightful book, but there’s no hashtag for that.”
Molly Young, The New York Times

“[Andrew] Martin introduces characters in sharp, funny flash-portraits that declare the book’s intention to perch, vape in hand, on the border of earnestness and satire . . . Early Work is a gift for those readers who like being flirted with by thoughtful and interesting people, and who like observing such people as they flirt with each other.”
Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

“[The] story of a love triangle . . . Martin reinvigorates the form, transposing its chords and riffing on its most familiar melodies.” Max Ross, The Paris Review

“Compulsively readable . . . [Early Work] asks big questions about ambition and success and art and love, but it's also a story of a love affair, delicious and horrible in equal measure.”
Emily Temple, Literary Hub

“Stunning . . . whip-smart and rather disturbing . . . [Andrew] Martin has a remarkable ear for natural dialogue and pitch-perfect, witty banter . . .”
Dana Hansen, Chicago Review of Books

“From a simple boy-meets-girl premise and from the most basic dramatic ingredients—ardor, art, alcohol, anxiety—Andrew Martin has concocted an exceptionally funny and disturbing first novel. I found myself thinking of Goodbye, Columbus and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh—from its title and its opening sentence on, Early Workachieves the feel of a classic debut.”
Chris Bachelder, author of The Throwback Special

 “The people in Andrew Martin’s Early Work have it all—youth, intelligence, ready wit, readier irony, terminally knowing tastes in books and music, affordable rents, abundant abusable substances, prolific sexual lives, even endearing dogs—and it’s perversely exhilarating to watch them, despite their fits of good-heartedness, turn a bucolic bohemia into a hipster hellscape. This is one smart, funny, scary novel.”
David Gates, author of Jernigan and The Wonders of the Invisible World

 “What a debut! Early Work is one of the wittiest, wisest (sometimes silliest, in the best sense), and bravest novels about wrestling with the early stages of life and love, of creative and destructive urges, I’ve read in a while. The angst of the young and reasonably comfortable isn’t always pretty, but Andrew Martin possesses the prose magic to make it hilarious, illuminating, moving.” —Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts and The Ask

“Beautifully executed and very funny, Early Work is a sharp-eyed, sharp-voiced debut that I didn’t want to put down.” —Julia Pierpont, author of Among the Ten Thousand Things and The Little Book of Feminist Saints

“To ignore Andrew Martin’s Early Work—a wry and pitch-perfect novel about late-twentysomething writers and lazy, progressive creatives in varying stages of existential crises—because of any painful familiarity is to do yourself a disservice.” —Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed

Andrew Martin’s stories have appeared in The Paris ReviewZyzzyva, and Tin House’s Flash Fridays series, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York Review of BooksThe Washington Post, and other publications. Early Work is his first novel.

Early Work, by Andrew Martin, was published in hardcover by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on July 10, 2018 (ISBN: 978-0-374-14612-2, $26.00). For more information, please contact Lauren Roberts(212-206-5325,


7/10 – Harvard Book Store – Cambridge, MA

7/11 – Labyrinth Books – Princeton, NJ

7/12 – McNally Jackson Books (Williamsburg) – Brooklyn, NY

7/14 – Politics and Prose Bookstore – Washington, DC

7/17 – New Dominion Bookshop – Charlottesville, VA

8/21 – Point Street Reading Series – Providence, RI

9/27–30 – Montana Book Festival – Missoula, MT

10/01 – Powell’s City of Books – Portland, OR

10/13 – Boston Book Festival – Boston, MA

10/14 – KGB Bar – New York, NY

“Triscuits and thin slices of Muenster cheese” are essential to this author's craft. Kick back with Mike Mulvey in The Woodshop.

At the first signs of spring, I emerge from my basement office, yawn, stretch, scratch myself, and squint at the light. After a winter of semi-hibernation, I'm hungry for sun and fresh air. I find both out on my favorite writing space - my back deck.

The Artist at Rest

After a morning cup of Irish tea and a half hour watching increasingly depressing morning news, and after the dew has been burned away by the morning sun, I haul my Smith-Corona manual typewriter up to my summer office and carefully park it on a circular wooden picnic table. I park myself in a creaky yellow rocker that, like me, has somehow survived a lifetime of New England winters. "Hello, old friend," I say as I nestle into the wicker seat. I put paper in my Smith-Corona and my feet up on my writing table. I smile as I survey my backyard domain, await my muse, and wait for the caffeine to kick in.

The view from my deck is one I've waited for all winter. I live on a secluded, heavily-wooded parcel of land in eastern Connecticut, equidistant from Boston and New York. I know there are houses on the surrounding properties, but in summer, I see only trees – oak, maple, pine, birch.  They surround, shade, and shelter me from the world and its distractions. My imagination convinces me I'm alone in the middle of a deep but friendly forest. The only sounds are birds, cicadas, and the wind making its way through the assorted foliage.

In addition to my Smith-Corona, I bring notes, a yellow legal pad, a box of white 8 x 11 typing paper, a large glass of un-sweetened green tea, snacks – usually Triscuits and thin slices of Muenster cheese - my bifocals, a paperback Merriam-Webster dictionary and a hard-bound copy of Webster's New World Thesaurus. If it's been a productive winter, I'll bring rough drafts of stories I've work on.

Even though I own several computers, my Smith-Corona is an integral part of my writing process, a process leftover from my college days. This process begins when I try to decipher notes scribbled on assorted scraps of paper. When I've made sense of these scribblings, I arrange and transfer them to a yellow legal pad, revise and edit the sentences and paragraphs, then type everything out on my Smith-Corona. I'll then take these pages and transfer them to the Dell laptop that sits on the coffee table in my family room. Through the sliding glass door I can still see and hear the sights and sounds of spring. Sometimes I'll catch sight of a bird stealing Triscuit crumbs from my plate or a hummingbird sipping from the feeder my wife puts out every spring.

After a hopefully productive morning, I'll have lunch on the deck – last night's leftovers, usually. While carefully re-reading my draft, I might reward myself with a glass of wine. I'm not superstitious, but I sometimes think that if I get over-confident, the piece I'm working on will attract rejection emails like a Trump confident attracts a Mueller indictment.  If it's been an especially frustrating morning or I've inadvertently over-caffeinated myself on green tea, I'll take the bottle out to my summer office - a decent Chianti or a Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse. 

On one unusually productive morning, I was able to write the introduction to a non-fiction story I'd been researching and working on for over two years, a story about home.

"One summer, on a whim, I visited the town where I grew up. I'd left in 1965 when I enlisted in the Army and had visited only occasionally, usually on leave from the Army, and later, after I'd been discharged, during semester breaks from college. After a decades-long absence, I expected some changes, but what I found that summer day left me speechless. I stood on the steps of the old town hall and stared in disbelief at what I saw – and didn't see. For the most part, Atlantic and Main had vanished."

A sad and somber tale of a lost city penned on such an idyllic spot.

I read somewhere that life is finite - as is my time in my backyard office. As a New Englander, I know that eventually I'll be evicted. Fall is an especially wondrous time of the year with the blaze of color, but it's also when I'm put on notice. I delay the inevitable by donning a hoodie and sweat pants when I can see my breath, but when autumn leaves begin to clog my Smith-Corona, I know it's time to retreat to my dark and dismal basement workspace. The upside is that without all the distractions of my summer office, I can sometimes be at my most productive. But I'd trade productivity for the view from my back deck any day.

 The Mulvey office in the off season...

The Mulvey office in the off season...

About the author:

Michail Mulvey is a retired educator who taught for over four decades at all levels, from kindergarten to college. He holds an MFA in creative writing and has had short stories published in literary magazines and journals in the US, the UK, and Ireland. In 2013 he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lost, of course, but he did take first prize in the 2007 Southern Connecticut State University Fiction Contest. His work has appeared in such publications as Johnny AmericaScholars and RoguesThe Umbrella Factory, Prole, Poydras, The Front Porch Review, Roadside Fiction, Crack the SpineLiterary Orphans, and War, Literature and the Arts.

The Woodshop examines the work spaces and habits of writers both big and small. Joan Didion spent the night in the same room as her work when it was almost finished. Don DeLillo kept a picture of Borges close by. When, and how, do you work? Tell CutBank about your workspace. Submit via email to

Chris La Tray's “attention in these small moments, paired with his simple, honest, and heartfelt words, helps to remind us that the smallest moment is important.”

Mitigating the In Between
A review of Chris La Tray's One-Sentence Journal  

by Bryn Agnew


“A quiet cup or two of coffee in the morning
and an ice cold beer or two in the evening
go a long way toward mitigating
whatever may have happened in between.”

– Chris La Tray, One-Sentence Journal


            Reading Chris La Tray’s first book One-Sentence Journal (Riverfeet Press 2018), I’m struck by interlinking of a million tiny magics. Each poem and essay in La Tray’s book focus on what would appear to be microscopic and ordinary moments. Innocuous some would say. But not La Tray. His attention in these small moments, paired with his simple, honest, and heartfelt words, helps to remind us that the smallest moment is important. That chain-wrapped tires can sound like sleigh bells, that a glorious afternoon doesn’t require sunshine, or that living paycheck to paycheck makes every other Friday feel like Christmas.

            The majority of One-Sentence Journal is made up of short poems (yes, often just one sentence) grouped by season. These sections’ structure is very intuitive, each moment being captured and honored within its own space while also maintaining the context of that particular season. Whether it is the needling cold of windblown ice or Missoula covered in golden, autumn leaves, La Tray shies away from nothing, finding beauty, wisdom, and worth in everything.

            Between the sections of short poems, La Tray drops in essays and longer poems, giving the reader a deeper look into value of small things (or perhaps they aren’t small at all). The topics range from propane deliveries (“My Life in Propane”), drunken encounters (“Higgins and 3rd”), Lincoln, MT after the capture of Ted Kaczynski (“Lincoln After Ted”), to the struggle between a fish and snake (“Creekside Drama”). But perhaps the crown jewel of these longer bits is the final essay, “Notes on the Sacred Art of Dog Walking.” In this penultimate essay, La Tray writes about loss and how a dog gave him something he didn’t know he needed, about how doing something that many would consider ordinary or a chore can resuscitate the soul of a person.

            I think that it would be incredibly reductive to talk about One-Sentence Journal as if it was a book about just one thing. No book is just about a singular topic. La Tray knows this and writes about the not-so-little things that many of us choose to ignore. He writes about them with the utmost gratitude. He is grateful for the gifts the world gives us, gifts that help us to be better people and pay attention to all that is happening around us. It’s all important. His writing, this book, is something we should be grateful for, because like all the best books, it is a gift.

“Every time I get outdoors,
            (up in the hills
            along the river
I feel like the world just gives and gives
and I’m not doing a damn thing
to give anything back.”

– Chris La Tray, One-Sentence Journal

Chris La Tray, an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a writer and photographer who lives just outside Missoula, Montana. His work has appeared in various magazines, collections and anthologies. It has been suggested that, because of the nature of his work, Chris La Tray must smell like Yukon gold dust, spruce tips, and cedar waxwings. He hopes it's true.

Bryn Agnew is a MFA fiction candidate at the University of Montana and bookseller at Missoula's Fact & Fiction. He holds a BA and MA in creative writing from the University of North Texas. His stories and essays have appeared in Mid-American Review, The Nottingham Review, and North Texas Review.