Book: Hollowtop Smoke Signals

Art Kehler Hollowtop Smoke Signals

Montana is vast, with a big sky, towering peaks, sprawling plains, and bountiful game. But the subject matter in Art Kehler’s Hollowtop Smoke Signals: A Collection of Humorous Essays (Raven Publishing, $14) is refreshingly small. Writing from his home in Harrison (population 137), Kehler describes a moose peeking in through his neighbor’s window, the ritual he and his fishing buddy perform after a monster catch, and the unconventional traffic laws of a small town. Bringing his tongue-and-cheek humor to each topic, Kehler pokes as much fun at himself as he does at the overzealous hunters and out-of-towners clogging up the local canyon each fall. His essays are small in length—between two and five pages—but still substantive. They each contain traditions, lessons, and a history unique to the place that Kehler’s called home for over 40 years. And while his subjects are modest, this collection of essays communicates a deeper truth about what it means to be a Montanan.