We all know those authors (with hard, slightly pretentious names like Cormac McCarthy and E. Annie Proulx) who write about manhood and obligation in the prairies and mountains of America with taut, occasionally lurid prose. Spokane writer Shann Ray, who reads at Elliott Bay tonight, is the newest author in that tradition. Sentences in his Montana-set story collection American Masculine ring out like gunshots. (“The Miracles of Vincent Van Gogh” begins like this: “Thirty-three. Still single. Driven, overly driven.”) But thankfully, he doesn’t share his elders’ predilection for lonely desolation—there’s plenty of room in Ray’s Montana for love. (Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Ave, 624-6600, 7 pm, free)

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