Rodgers debuts with a good-woman-heals-damaged-man fable, gussied up with pretty Montana scenery and late-night-radio atmospherics. It's 1979, and Tulsa Bitters is tall, fat, and 19. Her famous feminist mother has recently died, and her first and only boyfriend's just dumped her. On the train to Helena, she meets a lady in a caftan who gives her a tip on an available apartment, then steals most of her money. But after some good-natured groveling, Tulsa lands a job DJing the overnight shift at the local FM radio station—the first woman ever on the air in Helena, and she's good. Mac MacPeters, meanwhile, is your typical underachieving heartbreaker, with a loss-filled childhood, a string of ex-wives, and a scarring tour of duty in Vietnam behind him. He lives on his grandfather's ranch and works the overnight shift at the AM station. Soon, Tulsa and Mac are talking shop on the phone, and blustery old Mac finds himself drawn to his literate, joke- cracking counterpart. When they finally meet, Tulsa is nearly crippled with weight-related self-consciousness; in fact, Mac admires her auburn hair. They go listen to some coyotes howl and end up spending a memorable night together. When Mac goes on a binge, blows up a propane tank, and lands in the hospital in critical condition, Tulsa monopolizes visiting hours. Mac grumbles, even hits her in the mouth, but Tulsa persists. When he's sprung from the hospital, he acts ornery, but Tulsa pursues him without apology. Mac finally relents and signs on for a happy-ever-after. Former DJ Rodgers's sketches of the sexism and the camaraderie of the radio world are detailed and knowing. But these occasional bursts of fresh air aren't enough to energize this tired tale of a doting woman standing by her tough-to-tame man.
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