stephen trimble

Stephen Trimble tells stories—in words and photographs—about the land and people of the West. The Mike File is his 25th book—as writer, photographer, or editor.

The breadth of his awards mirrors the wide embrace of his work: The Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for photography and conservation; The National Cowboy Museum’s Western Heritage “Wrangler” Award; and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from his alma mater, Colorado College. Artists of Utah chose Trimble as one of Utah’s “15 Most Influential Artists” in 2019. 

He speaks and writes frequently as a conservation advocate and has taught writing at the University of Utah, where he received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at the Tanner Humanities Center during the centennial of Stegner’s birth. Trimble lives in Salt Lake City and Torrey, Utah, where his family proudly stewards a Nature Conservancy conservation easement in the redrock canyons of the Colorado Plateau—a story he tells in Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America. For more about his work, see www.stephentrimble.net. 

now available

The mike file

978-1953340221 |  Trade paperback | 4 x 6  | 180 pp |  List: $14.95

In The Mike File, Stephen Trimble grapples with his brother’s heartrending life and death and looks behind doors he’s barricaded in himself.

In 1957, when “Stevie” was six and Mike 14, psychosis overwhelmed Mike. He never lived at home again and died alone in a Denver boarding home at 33. Journalists used Mike’s death to expose these “ratholes” warehousing people with mental illness.

Detective story, social history, journey of self-discovery, and compassionate and unsparing memorial to a family and a forgotten life, The Mike File will move every reader with a relative or friend touched by psychiatric illness or disability.


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praise for the mike file

“…This is a remarkable little book, meticulously detailed and yet expansive, drilling implacably toward reality yet compassionate, forgiving. Not every family buries the same secrets, but all bury truth in one way or another. The Mike File offers a compelling and empathetic argument for finding that truth.”


—Betsy Burton, author of The King’s English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller and former president of the ABA

“Research, imagination, and his talent as a writer of vibrant nonfiction are the tools of resurrection that Stephen Trimble uses to bring his older brother back to life in The Mike File. Many of us, as individuals, as families, and as a country, shy away from looking directly at the painful lives of the mentally ill. ‘No one gave Mike a second thought,’ Trimble writes of his brother, who has fallen through the cracks of the mental health system. The Mike File is Stephen Trimble’s second thought. In it he faces himself, his family and the cracked world of our schools and institutions, and through a great act of empathy brings back the life of a brother who was lost.”

―David Gessner, author of All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West


The Mike File speaks to the still silent voice that travels through all families beset with mental illness. In a voice at once stark and vulnerable, blind and yet beset with loss, Steve Trimble searches through the scattered history of his older brother’s life in an attempt to understand the incomprehensible―the loss of a brother institutionalized for schizophrenia. In his pursuit to understand his brother’s life and indeed his own, Trimble forces us to acknowledge the painful truths about how we treat those with mental illness. This book is a beautiful and anguished revelation.”

―Melissa Bond, author of Blood Orange Night


“This is a story about one family. But more, it’s an American story, where mental illness hides in the shadows. I will never forget Mike, and the years he spent as a boy in an asylum. I will never forget Mike’s mother’s terrible jolt of discovery when Mike died. And I’ll surely never forget the profound journey that writer Steve Trimble undertook as he faced the contents of the Mike File, the history of his brother’s short life.”

―Dorothee Kocks, author of The Glass Harmonica and Dream a Little

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