Book ’Em!

Ted Conover isn’t a Denver native — but he’s as close as an Evil Companion has come. Born in Okinawa, he moved here with his family when he was four, graduated from Manual High School, and “I still think of Denver as home in many ways,” says the author, who now lives in New York City and teaches at NYU. He’s also only the second author to win an Evil Companions Literary Award based entirely on his non-fiction.

Not that Conover hasn’t tried to write a novel. “I’ve written the beginnings of three,” he says. “The same thing happens each time. I get to a point of uncertainty and insecurity and then the phone rings, and somebody asks me to write something for them that’s not fiction, which I know I can do, and all is lost.”

Not entirely lost: The non-fiction books that have resulted from those calls range from Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails With America’s Hoboes to Whiteout: Lost in Aspen to Coyotes: A Journey Through the Secret World of America’s Illegal Aliens to Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing to the recent The Routes of Man: Travels in the Paved World. And he already has two more in the works, which he cannot talk about at this time.

“Secrecy is my evil, according to my wife,” Conover says. “I feel like I jinx projects by talking about them.” But he’ll be talking about them — as much as he can — when he accepts the 2011 Evil Companions Literary Award, presented annually to a writer who embodies the spirit of the original Evil Companions, a group of Denver writers who met in the 1950s and ’60s to drink and discuss writing. The awards ceremony starts at 6 p.m. tonight in the Oxford Hotel Ballroom, 1637 Wazee Street: tickets are $70 ($60 for students and educators). Proceeds benefit the Denver Public Library; for more information, call 720-865-2050 or go to
Thu., April 14, 6 p.m., 2011

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun