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By Ken Overcast
Trade paperback, 5.5 x 8.5
240 pages / 77 photos and illustrations
Yesterday's Yarns by Ken Overcast is a collection of stories from the Real West. Ken says that, "Except for the itty bitty parts I made up, they're all plum true." Actually, some are completely historically accurate, while many of the others don't have a shred of truth. In both cases, the reader is instantly transported to a more innocent time and place where real cowboys still spin yarns around their roundup fires.
Yesterday's Yarns - Book Reviews
Here's what folks are saying....
"Ken Overcast is not only a Montana rancher, but he's also a cowboy singer and a darn good storyteller. In this entertaining book, Overcast relates many great cowboy stories. Some are true adventures of his own life while others are stories that have passed down through several generations of cowboys. Regardless, hilarious cowboy humor is a big part of most of them.
Herein are many hours of escapist and yet educational reading as written by a man who lives these kinds of adventures every day. The book also includes more than 70 photographs and illustrations by Canadian Ben Crane."
Bear Valley Press, P.O. Box 1542, Chinook, MT 59523; 406-357-3824 softcover, 240 pp., $16.95
Cowboy Magazine, Summer 2003
"Ken Overcast’s book 'Yesterday’s Yarns' takes readers on a trail ride around the real West, looking at humorous aspects of cowboy life. Written by a real Montana cowboy, the book touches on love for a cowboy hat, cures for snoring and thoughts of calves. Overcast also writes about family, friends and a bucket full of misadventures.
Many of the 53 short stories date back to the olden days, handed down like knitted socks over the years. Overcast jazzes up the tales with a bit of bull and some wily wit. Cowboy lingo and spelling are sprinkled throughout the chuckling journey, and clever jokes partner up with comical illustrations.
Overcast lives with his wife on a ranch in northcentral Montana. Along with 'Yesterday’s Yarns,' the multi-talented cowboy has written award-winning poetry and produced compact discs of cowboy songs."
Stacy Haslem, Great Falls Tribune staff writer
"Ever feel like you’re stuck in a spot you don’t really like? Maybe you just got passed over for promotion, or like a lot of folks, have way too much month left at the end of the money, and honestly yearn for a simpler and less cluttered life. Escape, at least for a moment or two, is actually possible.
Can you imagine what it’s really like to ride horseback all alone across the wild wind swept Montana prairie, or to hear weathered old cowboys talk of actually meeting members of the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid’s Wild Bunch gang of outlaws? Thanks to 'Yesterdays Yarns', you can have a front row seat to some Real Tales from the Real West.
Whether it is in finding side-splitting humor in the midst of pain on a Montana ranch, or relating a hundred year old story that has been handed down for generations, Ken Overcast has a flair for bringing the Real West to life. If the Hollywood version of the American West has ever stirred the repressed cowboy in your soul, just imagine the thrill of sitting cross-legged around the glowing embers of a roundup fire and listening to a real cowboy spin tales of cattle rustlers, comical horse wrecks, and far-fetched yarns of every description.
Some of these stories are as accurate as they can possibly be a hundred years or so after the fact, but many are so implausible it would take an extremely vivid imagination to believe a single word. While still others are a uniquely clever combination of fact and baloney, all are definitely entertaining.
Ken Overcast is a lifelong Montana cowboy, and lives and breathes the Western way of life. Overcast has been a headliner during the annual Storytelling Roundup held here in Cut Bank every spring. He is a recording cowboy singer, produced CDs, and entertains audiences all over with his music and poetry.
'Yesterday’s Yarns' is published by Bear Valley Press. Locally readers and fans can purchase a copy of 'Yesterday’s Yarns' at: Glacier Gateway Inn (Cut Bank), Printy’s Crafts (Cut Bank), Faught’s Trading Post (Browning), and The Wooden Spoon (East Glacier) or may be ordered directly by phoning toll free number 888-753-7611
From the editor’s desk, this is a very funny book. It is a great idea for Father’s Day gifts. I mostly enjoyed the old time stories and the laughable adventures Overcast so uniquely describes. Pick up a copy of 'Yesterday’s Yarns' today!"
Jody Hickey, Editor of Western Breeze
"Whether it’s describing the comical side of an ordinary kind of a ranch cow wreck, or the awakening of an uncommonly life-changing experience, Ken Overcast has a rare gift as a storyteller. In living color he can capture a moment and bring it to life…so real you can practically smell the wild roses, hear the Meadowlarks, and feel the grit of the trail dust on your teeth. For those of us who grew up horseback on a central Montana ranch, there’s a big difference between just the enthralling prose of a great storyteller, and a tale spun by a hand like Ken Overcast who has lived beside, and rode with, the characters he writes about.
If you know this land, and if these heroes are yours, then you’ll know after the first page that this is the real West, and that you are under the spell of a master storyteller who has lived it. For those who have enjoyed Ken Overcast’s music and his poetry, prepare to be surprised. His talent as a writer of short stories is in my opinion his longest suit, in a mighty well-dealt hand!"
Taylor Brown, President, Northern Broadcasting System
"Yesterday's Yarns is a compilation of delightful romantic stories of the West. It is a celebration of true life stories that warms the heart and inspires readers to reflect on times past."
Sandy Bales, Associate Publisher, American Cowboy Magazine
"Yesterday's Yarns is an entertaining read, a book filled with colorful tales and keen observations of life in the American West. Overcast's authentic voice, eye for humor and strong storytelling talent have resulted in a collection that will help to preserve our cowboy culture."
AJ Magnum, Editor, Western Horseman Magazine
"Ken Overcast is a real Montana cowboy with a knack for storytelling. Up 'til now, he's only touched our hearts with his music and songs. Yesterday's Yarns keeps cowboy memories and values alive with its 54 most-loved Western yarns, which will have you sharing these stories for years to come. If laughter is the best medicine, then Ken's masterfully-told stories will touch your heart and heal what ails you. A must read for the whole family."
Ted Gasci, TrueWest Magazine
"Be prepared to meet some of the most colorful characters ever to live under the Big Sky. Ken Overcast's tales of everyday life in the West will leave readers with a smile, a twinkle in their eye and a feeling they were actually there… a true Montana treasure."
Ken Spencer, Editor, The Prairie Star
"Yesterday's Yarns brings the past and present into a colorful tapestry woven with memorable characters and wit as sharp as a cactus spine. Best of all, they're filled with the humanity and compasion of one who's lived through it and knows these people and places well. Ken Overcast's stories are timeless sketches of the real West."
Barbara Wies, Associate Editor, Range Magazine
Nothing removes a person from the humdrum of everyday life faster than a good book. With the wealth of reading material available to us today, sometimes a person can’t decide which books may merit closer attention. I’ve found a book that I think will entertain anyone who delves between its covers, whether the reader is a rancher weathered by years on the range or an urban grandmother who has never seen a cow pie in her life.
The book I’m referring to, “Yesterday’s Yarns: Real Tales from the Real West,” written by Montana rancher and cowboy Ken Overcast, provides good entertainment for readers from all backgrounds. The short stories and vignettes contained in the book consist of both factual and fictional tales of life in the west as observed from a true cowboy’s point of view.
Overcast’s stories explore family history, repeat tales concerning colorful Montana villains and good guys that helped shape the west, and bring everyday events, such as a pesky neighbor child, an unruly cow, or normal family situations, to vivid life. In his fictional stories, Overcast has the ability to take an ordinary situation, see the humor contained in the predicament, embellish the facts and the characters, and turn out a rollicking good yarn. His factual stories depict life in the old west as well as life in the modern west. He shares with the reader small gems of little-known Montana history, written in a way that makes a person either want to laugh out loud or weep in despair.
Some of the stories in the book blend fact with fiction. “It’s all true except for the part I made up,” Overcast remarks at one point in the book.
Those of us who live in the west can identify with nearly every story or situation in the book, like coming out on the losing end in an argument with a cow, or sleepwalking through a night calving check. The beauty of Overcast’s work, however, lies in the fact that those not familiar with our way of life can still read and enjoy the book. They may not understand riding a fence line, or recognize a prairie oyster when they see one, but they can still empathize with the situations in the book, appreciate the humor and the eccentrics they meet, and learn a bit about the American West in the process.
I highly recommend this book for rural and urban folks alike. People can purchase this paperback book, which sells for $16.95, from the local bookstore, or they may order the book directly by phoning 1-888-753-7611
Lois Kerr, Ag Roundup