Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Greer comes to Cheyenne to talk about his books and African-American history in the West

My wife Chris is on the planning committee for the annual Cheyenne Juneteenth celebration and the fund-raising banquet put on by the Wyoming NAACP. Chris and I are both proud members of the NAACP and freckle-faced Celts of Scots (she) and Irish (me) heritage. My Mom was Black Irish, if that means anything.

Chris asked me about a speaker for the Juneteenth dinner. I suggested Robert Greer, Dr. Robert Greer, "Bob" to most of us. Bob found a fine literary magazine, the High Plains Literary Review, back in 1986 and accepted my first published story in 1990. I'm eternally grateful for his good taste. I've read two of his CJ Floyd novels and listened to the audiobook for another while driving across Wyoming several summers ago.

CJ Floyd is a bailbondsman working out of the colorful Bail Bonds Row across the the Denver Police Department. Several of CJ's adventures have taken him all the way to Wyoming. Usually he is ferreting out miscreants and consulting with his sources in the city's Five Points neighborhood, which was the black section of town during the racist days of red-lining. Denver attempted to keep all the "Coloreds" in Five Points, Larimer Street and Lower Downtown, now the Yuppie and artsy enclave of LoDo. Denver thought that an invisible red line would stop minorities from migrating to the swankier parts of town.

My mother used to take us to our family doctors down in Five Points. Our doctors' names were Kobayashi, Momei and Hosakawa. Colored folks. Nisei. Two of the three fought with the 442 Regimental Combat Team in World War II. My father, a World War II vet of the European Theatre, never went with us. He never objected to my Mom's choice of doctors. But he was a product of his times and he was damned if he was going to go to a "Jap" doctor.

Denver has an intriguing history and Bob does his best to inject it into his mysteries.

Bob will come to the Cheyenne Holiday Inn on Saturday, June 4, to speak at the annual banquet of the Wyoming NAACP. His theme will be the contributions that African-Americans made to the history of the West. He will sign copies of his books from 6-7 p.m.. Dinner will follow, with Dr. Greer's speech at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person, $50 per couple. You can purchase tickets for the event by calling Abe Stevenson at 307-634-8304 or Bennie McLaughlin, 307-634-5527.

When he's not writing, Dr. Greer is a professor of pathology, medicine, surgery and dentistry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in. He also holds a master's degree in creative writing from Boston University and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Miami University of Ohio, his alma mater.

Greer has lived in Denver for thirty years. In 1986 he founded High Plains Literary Review and continues to serve as its editor-in-chief. He is the author or co-author of three medical textbooks and over 125 scientific articles. His short stories have appeared in dozens of national literary magazines and his short story collection, Isolation and Other Stories, published in 2000 by the Davies Group Publishers, is also wonderfully illustrated.

Greer has been involved in cancer research at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center for more than thirty years. In 1983 his research group was the first in the world to report a synergistic link between smokeless tobacco use and human papillomaviruses in certain cancers of the mouth. That research foundation is the basis for the plot of his novel,The Devil's Hatband,the author's first novel featuring Denver bail bondsman and detective CJ Floyd. Several of his novels are set in Wyoming.

Spoon, Greer’s 2009 novel of the contemporary American West, won the Colorado Book Award for literary fiction. It also was a finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur Award and received the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union 2010 Media of the Year Award. Wyoming’s Craig Johnson, author of Another Man's Moccasins and The Dark Horse, had this to say about the novel: "With Spoon, Robert Greer tells the story of a modern-day range war in wildfire prose both taut and lyrical."

Greer also reviews books for a Denver National Public Radio affiliate, KUVO, and raises cattle on a ranch in Platte County, Wyoming


RobertP said...


So I have now learned another genesis for one of your fine short stories. I may have to read about the doctors again over the Memorial Day weekend.

We are busy dodging tornadoes here in the great Midwest. Spent an hour and a half in the parking garage today, but it past by without damage. Others not quite so lucky.


Michael Shay said...

Glad to hear you're all O.K. Those tornadoes have been cutting a swath through your territory. Watch the skies!