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Anything Will Be Easy after This

A Western Identity Crisis

Bethany Maile

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 09/2020
Pages: 222
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781496222428


Bethany Maile had a mythological American West in mind when she returned to Idaho after dropping out of college in Boston, only to find a farm-town-turned-suburb instead of the Wild West wonderland she remembered. Haunted by what she had so completely misremembered, Maile resolved to investigate her attachment to the western myth, however flawed. Deciding to engage in a variety of "western" events, Maile trailed rodeo queens, bid on cattle, fired .22s at the gun range, and searched out wild horses. With lively reportage and a sharp wit, she recounts her efforts to understand how the western myth is outdated yet persistent while ultimately exploring the need for story and the risks inherent to that need. Anything Will Be Easy after This traces Maile's evolution from a girl suckered by a busted-down story to a more knowing woman who discovers a new narrative that enchants without deluding.  


Bethany Maile is a professor of writing at Boise State University. Her work has been published in Shenandoah, the Rumpus, River Teeth, Prairie Schooner, High Desert Journal, and the Normal School.  


"Blending personal insight with sharp-eyed cultural analysis, the author celebrates the West and Western identity without ever losing sight of the myriad complexities that underlie both. An eloquent and perceptive memoir in essays."—Kirkus Reviews

"Anything Will Be Easy after This pairs old school journalistic immersion with formal ingenuity and weds Maile's healthy skepticism to her legit enthusiastic love for the West's stories. Half excellent memoir and half blade-sharp cultural critique, this terrific book made me a convert to the complicated appeal of the state."—Ander Monson, author of Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir  

"Gorgeously written, vividly imagined, and poignantly observed, Maile's open-eyed essays are a heartbroken love song to Idaho: what it was, what it never was, what it is, what it might yet be. Whether she is contemplating motherhood or mustangs or Ray LaMontagne, rodeo queens or Dairy Queen, True Grit, or the gut-wrenching shame of genocide, Maile is a brilliant new voice in and of the West."—Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country