Larry F. Slonaker

Writer of fiction and nonfiction; author of the novel Nothing Got Broke (Cirque Press)

Larry F. Slonaker on Amazon


Larry F. Slonaker...

...was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana, and worked as a writer and editor at the once-renowned San Jose Mercury News, and the still-renowned Stanford University. There were a few stops at never-renowned places as well. 

 Nothing Got Broke is a novel of the American West, specifically Montana, and its people and its myths. It’s also a story about how, even though people sometimes go there to get lost, they can be found…and found out. An excerpt from the novel appeared in the 10th-anniversary edition of Cirque Literary Journal, whose editors nominated it for a Pushcart Prize.


 Back in the '80s he had a novel published by Avon. It was re-titled The Voice of the Visitor, bound with a grotesque cover and marketed as a horror novel, which it really wasn’t. But that's another story.

He was not using the (seemingly superfluous) middle initial in his name at that time. For more on that, see the blog entry, "WTF?"


from Nothing Got Broke

The Man in the Moon on the Man

August 1985


     Here’s what I can tell you about Rossiter at that time: He could report and write, seemingly with little effort, and always by deadline, just about any assignment at the paper—from a teenager’s slaughter of his aged foster parents, to the rescue of a kitten stranded in a tree.


     But when it came to a domestic activity, he had a perverse compulsion to contort it…as one might twist apart and reshape a perfectly functional wire hanger into a makeshift snare, with the aim of retrieving some fumbled-away object behind the sofa or under the stove. The end result being something pretty much unrecognizable, as well as useless. 

     For example, there was this one lovely August day— which for a normal person might have been near-perfect—that preceded a sequence of events ending with him tangled in brush at the bottom of a ravine, hopelessly engrossed in the moon.


Doug Rossiter has a secret, and in the spirit of modern Western writers Kevin McCafferty and C. J. Box, Larry Slonaker roots us firmly in today’s Montana as that secret is slowly revealed.  Along the way, Slonaker holds up a mirror for us, where we can ponder Rossiter’s ruminations on the truths of Manifest Destiny in the American West, and squirm because they cut so close to the bone.

—Doug Pope, author of The Way to Gaamaak Cove

Larry Slonaker knows the raw world he writes of, in this gritty narrative slashed with liberal dashes of noir. He demonstrates a sharp eye for details that count and a keen ear for dialogue inflected with regional accents.

In Nothing Got Broke, Larry Slonaker does a remarkable thing: He puts you firmly on the Hi-Line of Montana, sends the ceaseless wind swirling around you, gives you a taste of the beer, and sets you up with a view down Main Street and into the hearts, hopes, and broken dreams of the people in that place. That he gets Montana comes shimmering off these pages—what it is, what it was, what it might still become. It's a place unlike anywhere else, and Slonaker reveals it with appropriate measures of reverence and unflinching candor.

Craig Lancaster,  author of And It Will Be a Beautiful Life and
600 Hours of Edward

—Ron McFarland, author of The Rockies in First Person and
Appropriating Hemingway




"No More, Ever"

An excerpt from Nothing Got Broke, which appeared in Cirque Literary Journal

     Harold and Joe pulled into the parking lot at the battlefield just before 9:30 in a GMC pickup whose various sections—hood, driver’s side door, roof—were painted in shades of black and primer gray. Except for the tailgate, which was yellow. A gun rack was visible in the back window.

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Flaunting the Flag

I was inordinately reassured to see the dignified displays of the flag at the 2021 inauguration--especially in light of the way mob members wrapped themselves in the flag the previous week. Did a quickie turnaround for a local online pub. (Nemmind the hed, which sounds like the title of an essay for an 8th grade civics class.)  


'2020' Vision? ...Not so much

When I was at the Santa Clara County Office of Education, an initiative was launched to eliminate the achievement gap by the year 2020. The year is almost over, but the gap is as wide as ever. What happened?


Here's my take on it, which first appeared in sanjoseinside and Metro Silicon Valley. 

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My Year As a Teacher, Part 1

     Sometime in February, it all started caving in on me.

     I was scrambling to get my students ready for the district writing test, but many still were having problems just writing a coherent sentence, let alone an essay. And I wasn't sleeping very well, because every night I was having the same nightmare, over and over -- the naked-in-front-of-the-students dream.

     Then, around Valentine's Day, the principal called me into her office.

She had a note to show me. One of the janitors had found it in another of the seventh-grade classrooms.

     The page, which had been ripped jaggedly from a spiral notebook and viciously crumpled, had one word written on the first five lines: Kill . . . Kill . . . Kill . . . On the next 17 lines, a second word was added: Kill.. . . Slonaker. Kill . . . Slonaker. Kill . . . Slonaker. The same words, over and over.

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The rest of the series

My Year As a Teacher, Part 2

Learning to Take Charge

My Year As a Teacher, Part 3

Asking for a Little Respect

My Year As a Teacher, Part 4

Trying to Bring Students to a Higher Standard

My Year As a Teacher, Part 5

What Mr. Slonaker Learned

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Crown Butte, which is pictured at the top of this page, is near Simms, Montana