Gustafson, Sid 1954-

views updated

GUSTAFSON, Sid 1954-


Born 1954, in Conrad, MT; children: Connor, Nina. Education: Attended Montana State University and United States Air Force Academy; Washington State University, B.S. (cum laude), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Hobbies and other interests: Montana fiction and nonfiction, wolf fiction, animals and animal welfare, environment, application of medical art to the preservation of natural systems.


Home—Bozeman, MT. Office—Bozeman Veterinary Clinic, 918 South Church, Bozeman, MT 59715. E-mail—[email protected].


Veterinarian and writer. Military service: U.S. Air Force.


Nominee, Pushcart Prize, 2000, for story "Prisoners of Flight"; nominee, O. Henry Prize, 2000, for story "Age."


First Aid for the Active Dog: Canine Health and Prevention, Alpine Blue Ribbon Books (Loveland, CO), 2003.

Prisoners of Flight (novel), Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2003.

Also author of the short fiction works "Prisoners of Flight" and "Age." Contributor of short fiction, poetry, and articles to journals, including Thema, Inkwell, Montana Crossroads Magazine, and Firestar. Contributor to anthologies, including The Suspense of Loneliness: Stories of the Forlorn and Tales for the Trail: Stories and Poems, Birch Brook Press.


Horsemen, a novel; a nonfiction work on first aid for horses.


Sid Gustafson is a native of Montana, a veterinarian who has also penned short stories, poetry, and articles on veterinary medicine. In 2003 he published his first books, First Aid for the Active Dog: Canine Health and Prevention and the novel Prisoners of Flight. The former book provides twenty-nine brief chapters of basic instruction on matters of canine first aid. Gustafson uses his twenty-five years of professional experience to relate in a straightforward manner how to help prevent injuries and accidents to dogs, as well as how to diagnose the severity of an injury or illness.

In his novel, Gustafson presents quite a different aspect of his writing talents. Here he relates the story of two Vietnam veterans, both of whom were shot down over the China Sea during the war and held as prisoners of war in Hanoi, where they were tortured. Sling Roop turned to drugs and then alcohol after that experience, losing his family in the process. Now he is a veterinarian still fighting his demons; his pal is a Cree/Blackfoot named Henson who wants to purge his evil memories by getting back to the land. Each has physical afflictions from that time: Roop is deaf in one ear, while Henson is blind in one eye. The two get together for a wilderness flight, but their Piper Cub crashes near Glacier National Park, and they are forced to find shelter in the woods. Soon they are joined by twin sisters, also in flight from a broken family, who have gotten lost looking for their dog. The unlikely foursome finds an unoccupied cabin stocked for the winter, and they survive on fish and fowl that the men catch. As winter progresses, these characters discover inner strength. As Joan Baum noted in the East Hampton Independent, "Sling and Henson teach the girls what it means to live and face death."

Baum further praised this "haunting" novel for its "compelling, sometimes beautiful, and sometimes brutal, imagery." For the same critic, it "is refreshing to come across a literary account of The Real Thing." Other reviewers were more critical of the debut novel. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews felt that the "excruciatingly interior story … becomes suffocating after a while," while a writer for Publishers Weekly commented on the "improbability of the plot twists" and the occasional "unintentional humor of the imprecise, strained prose." Yet for Baum, it is this lyrical language, "so graphic, so poetically rendered," that is appealing. And writing in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle Online, Scott McMillion also commended Gustafson's "imagery and sparse, elegant language," finding that "linguistic gems pepper almost every page."



Independent (East Hampton, NY), July 2, 2003, Joan Baum, review of Prisoners of Flight.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003, review of Prisoners of Flight, pp. 628-629.

Publishers Weekly, May 26, 2003, review of Prisoners of Flight, p. 50.


Bozeman Daily Chronicle Online, (July 28, 2003), Scott McMillion, "Living the Literary Life."

Montana State University Web site, (March 26, 2004).

Official Sid Gustafson Web site, (March 26, 2004).