From heart defibrillators to hermits to the Himalayas, Teton County Library allows people to delve into a blend of adventure and story over several weeks this winter.
The annual Mountain Story, which usually takes the form of a week or so of live workshops and events, has morphed this year to a longer online symposium, which will allow a wider cast of writers, from Canada to France to Jackson Hole, to participate.
Leah Shlachter, adult events coordinator at the library, said it had to decide how and if to continue one of its key events in the pandemic year — just like pretty much every other presenting organization. Ultimately library staff decided to keep the “great adventure meets great writing and great stories” tradition, she said.
Circumstances this year allowed for a resurgence of some great stories, notably Michael Finkel’s 2017 story “The Stranger in the Woods.” The book is about 20-year-old Chris Knight, who abandoned civilization and survived in the Maine wilderness, sometimes breaking into homes to steal food and fuel. Dubbed “the last true hermit,” Knight sought out a lifestyle that many have had glimpses of this past socially isolated year.
“We reached out to him and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you think your book’s too old, but now it might be a good time to look at it with a new lens,’” Shlachter said.
Finkel takes the online podium Feb. 4.
The first event of Mountain Story 2021 is today, with Katherine Standefer’s online writing workshop. Standefer’s book, “Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life,” begins in Jackson Hole as the author confronts a major health challenge. She then seeks to trace the supply chain that produced her heart defibrillator, intertwining a personal memoir with research into the health care industry.
Standefer’s workshop will focus on strategies for taking notes, how to approach quoting others and “the task of turning dry or dense information into buoyant prose,” library material states.
Her event begins at 6 p.m. today. Details on how to join via Zoom are available at TCLib.org/mountainstory.
The next event is set for Thursday, Jan. 28, with Bruce Kirkby, who with his family moved to a remote Himalaya Buddhist monastery. He will talk about and show images that illustrate his process of writing, family adventure and his book, “Blue Sky Kingdom: A Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 3, Irene Yee will take audiences on climbing adventures to some her favorite places, inspiring some possible additions to bucket lists with “Oh, the Climbs You’ll Climb.”
At 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, Finkel will present what he learned writing “The Stranger in the Woods,” the story of the Maine hermit.
Dina Mishev, a local author and adventurer, will host a writing workshop starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11. Entitled “Pandemic Project: Writing Essays about Travel (when you can’t travel),” Mishev will offer prompts to invite participants to revisit old trips in new ways. A frequent travel writer for The Washington Post, she will also give people ideas on how to pitch travel writing to national newspapers and magazines.
Finally, John Long will offer “A Four-Step Process for Narrative Writing” on Feb. 17. After years of teaching writing symposiums, Long found a process that improved the range and the quality of stories. It focuses on technique and architecture rather than content, with four steps that can be applied to any writing, the library said.
Long’s newest book, “Last Place on No Map,” is due out in March.
All Mountain Story events are online and can be accessed by Zoom. Registration is recommended for workshops. ￼