Dec 14, 2021 - News

Northwest Arkansas writer Matt McGowan publishes first novel, "1971"

Fayetteville author Matt McGowan at his desk. Photo: Samantha Bertoncino
Fayetteville author Matt McGowan at his desk. Photo: Samantha Bertoncino

If you were to see Matt McGowan on the street, you'd probably think: That guy's a writer.

  • And you'd be right. The man who looks the part recently published his first novel, "1971," with Auxarczen Press.

The big picture: Thanks largely to investments made by the Walton Family Foundation and Walton heirs, Northwest Arkansas is slowly becoming a hub of activity for creative culture.

  • But some writers in NWA say they tend to have less of a consistent support network than their visual and performance art peers.

Flashback: McGowan, who works in the public relations department at the University of Arkansas, started building his own virtual network last year.

  • He interacted with some people who read his creative Facebook reflections on pandemic nature walks, and they eventually connected him to Auxarczen.
  • Soon after, McGowan was prepping a book with the publisher.

Details: McGowan, 54, grew up in southwest Missouri. Even though the story is set in the Missouri Ozarks in 1971, the book is not autobiographical, he told Axios.

  • The plot follows a 13-year-old boy, Bud, whose stepmother, Fanny, abandons him, and he's taken in by a farm family.

The intrigue: Despite a heavy setup, McGowan said the story is based on the idea of love being given freely to strangers without any expectations.

The bottom line: Signed copies of "1971" are available at Pearl's Books in Fayetteville and Two Friends Bookstore in Bentonville.

"Fanny took a drag on the cigarette. She blew smoke out of the corner of her mouth and then turned and looked across the road. 'There's a house over there,' she said. 'You can’t see it, but it's there. Way back under those trees. Go tell them we have car trouble.'"
Excerpt from "1971."
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