Seven days to fund an anthology of Ed Quillen's wise, curmudgeonly writing


Want to help ensure that the West will never forget one of its wisest and most unique voices, writer Ed Quillen? Consider chipping into this Kickstarter project to anthologize his work.

Ed died last year on June 3, at his home in Salida, Colo. "For nearly 30 years, Ed had written about the region's communities and issues with a keen eye for irony and an appreciation for history," we wrote in a blog post memorializing Ed and listing his High Country News essays.

Writer Ed Quillen, who passed away last year

Now, his daughter Abby is publishing an anthology of her dad’s Denver Post columns (as well as an eBook anthology of his High Country News pieces). And she's using Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website, to raise money to cover the costs of the project. Her campaign ends next Wednesday, August 7. She's trying to raise $5,500, and as of today the project has pledges totaling just over $4,500. It's an all-or-nothing deal -- if she doesn't reach the final goal, she doesn't get any of the money.

From her Kickstarter page:

"(Abby is compiling Ed's) later columns into a sequel to his 1998 collection, Deep in the Heart of the Rockies. The new anthology will be entitled Deeper into the Heart of the Rockies, and the release date is scheduled for November 1. The book will include 120 of Quillen’s best columns published between 1999 and 2012. ...

Quillen wrote about history, politics, water issues, computers, and small town living in his weekly dispatches, which he transmitted to the paper from his home in Salida. He also regularly wrote for High Country News and his work appeared in various other publications, including Colorado Homes and Lifestyles, the Los Angeles Times, and Utne.

“My dad had a knack at humor, an encyclopedic knowledge of Colorado history and lore, and he was never scared to say what he thought about anything,” says Abby (a freelance writer in Oregon). “I’m excited to create something lasting for his longtime fans and hopefully some new readers as well.”

As HCN contributor George Sibley wrote in a remembrance of Ed:

But how to remember Quillen? The rest of the world seems content to drop him in the “liberal” box, but those who knew him, know better. At the Headwaters conferences at Colorado’s Western State College, … he would pop every progressive balloon that had been floated, in that wry way he had of making things sound funny even when they really weren’t, and before we knew it, we’d be howling with laughter at ourselves. ...

He disliked the kind of “yupscale” liberal sensibility that was spreading through the mountain towns he loved, but he also had a passionate love-hate relationship with what “conservative” had come to mean. He began his writing career as a card-carrying Republican, but dropped that when the Republicans became obsessed with militarism, womb control and xenophobia …

So Ed was neither liberal nor conservative in any conventional sense.  …

I always thought there would be time to ask someday: “Well, Ed, dammit, what is your vision for America? What measures up, Ed? What’s good enough for your America?”

... Now that Ed is gone, we can all collage our own answers to that question, using the 2-million-plus words he left behind. His “Deep in the Heart of the Rockies” is back in my bathroom, for those mostly quiet and contemplative parts of the day. …

That is what we miss most when someone moves on: Our conversation is over.

And that's what Abby's project is all about: helping all Westerners carry on the conversation that Ed started. Please consider sending a few bucks her way.

Jodi Peterson is HCN's managing editor.

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