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Posts tagged: literary

Orlean, Whitehead, Lowry booked for Get Lit!

Some big literary names have been booked into Eastern Washington University's Get Lit! Festival April 11-15:

  • Susan Orlean, author of “The Orchid Thief” and the just-released “Rin Tin Tin: Life and Legend,” the biography of the famous movie dog. The latter is poised to be one of the bestselling books of the season.
  • Colson Whitehead, author of “Sag Harbor,” “The Intuitionist” and the new “Zone One,” an ironic take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel. 
  • Ted Kooser, former U.S. Poet Laureate.
  • Rick Bass, author of “The Wild Marsh” and many other meditative books about the West and its natural history.
  • Lois Lowry, the Newberry Award-winning young adult author.
  • Steve Almond, author of “Candyfreak” and “God Bless America: Stories.”
  • Jess Walter, Spokane novelist and National Book Award finalist.

This impressive lineup makes the Festival Pass look like an excellent option at $45. You can get them via Ticketswest outlets beginning Nov. 4. Individual tickets won't go on sale until Jan. 2.  

Sarah Vowell coming to SCC

Sarah Vowell, the well-known author and radio voice, will speak at Spokane Community College's Presidential Speaker Series, Nov. 7, 7 p.m.

Vowell is the author of the bestselling books, “The Wordy Shipmates,”  “Assassination Vacation,' and “Unfamiliar Fishes.” She was also a regular contributor to public radio's “This American Life.”

Vowell talk will be in SCC's Lair-Student Center Auditorium, Bldg. 6, 1810 N. Greene St.

Vowell will also do a casual Q-and-A on Nov. 8, 9:30 a.m., in the Hagan Foundation Center for the Humanities at SCC.

Both events are free and open to the public

My summer reading project: “Les Miz,” unabridged

Just got back from Auntie's Bookstore where I purchased my summer reading project: The unabridged “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo.

Since the musical adaptation is my favorite musical of all time, I figured it's about time for me to immerse myself in the genuine source material.

Fun facts: The paperback I bought is 1,463 pages long. The electronic version on my iPhone is over 6,727 “pages”.

Here's hoping I can make it to “page” 6,727.

The real Bloomsday: Literary Pub Crawl

Thursday is the real  Bloomsday (of the James Joyce variety), which means it's also the day of Spokane's  annual Limerick Literary Pub Crawl and Traditional Irish Dinner.

For $50, you can accompany a bagpiper, a bard or two and a band of like-minded revelers through downtown Spokane's Irish and/or literary minded pubs, including Cyrus O'Learys, ODoherty's, the Blue Spark, the Satellite and the Onion.

You'll have discounted libations at every stop, along with music and literary readings. At The Onion, you'll also have a full Irish dinner — salmon crusted with oatmeal, etc.

Registration should have been made in advance, but maybe if you're lucky there will still be a few spots left. Call Kerry Lynch at (509) 990-7513 for info. This is sponsored by the Spokane-Limerick Sister City Society,

Navy SEAL to speak at Auntie’s

Eric Greitens, the author of “The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy  SEAL,” will do a reading and signing at Auntie's Bookstore, 402 W. Main, on Saturday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Greitens has been in the news lately, commenting on the Navy SEALS takedown of Bin Laden. He's also scheduled to appear on “The Colbert Report” tonight on Comedy Central.

“The Heart and the Fist” is the story of his extraordinary life: Rhodes Scholar, Oxford student, Navy SEAL Lt. Commander, and now, CEO of the non-profit group The Mission Continues, dedicated to empowering wounded and disabled veterans. For more, check out his website.

Tim O’Brien, Ani DiFranco headline Spokane’s busiest literary week

Get ready for the busiest week of the year on Spokane’s literary scene.

Get Lit! begins on April 13 (Wednesday). The calendar holds so many events – 55 workshops, panels and readings – that the best way to find them all is to go to the Get Lit! web site at this link.

Click “continue reading” to see the main ticketed events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and some other noteworthy events:

Michele Glazer to read her poetry at Whitworth

Here's another notable poetry reading to go along with the previous post, below.

Nationally known poet Michele Glazer will read her work as part of the Third Annual Nadine Chapman Endowed Reading at Whitworth University on Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Glazer is the winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and the director of creative writing at Portland State University. She has published several poetry volumes.

The reading will be in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at the university. It's free.

Maya Jewell Zeller launches ‘Rust Fish’ poetry volume

I was unable to put together a Book Notes column last Sunday, but I wanted to make sure that everyone knew about the book launch of “Rust Fish” (Lost Horse Press), a volume of poetry by Spokane poet Maya Jewell Zeller.

Zeller is a lecturer in Gonzaga University's English department who grew up on the Oregon coast. This volume has already garnered praise from critics for its evocation of the Northwest and its stories of “human ruin and hard-won grace.”

Zeller will launch the book with a reading and party on Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at the Spokane Community College's Hagan Foundation Center for the Humanities, in the library (building 16).

The reading is free.

Greg Mortenson packs ‘em in

Greg Mortenson, the author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools” drew a crowd of at least 4,000 to Gonzaga University's McCarthey Athletic Center — on a night when this basketball-obsessed college was playing an Elite Eight women's game right down the road.

It was exhilarating and refreshing to see so many people perfectly aware that some things are more important than sports, namely, empowering people in Pakistan and Afghanistan through education. That's what Mortenson does with his Central Asia Institute. They have built 178 schools, mostly for educating girls.

It was an inspiring night, but not necessarily because Mortenson is a dynamic and polished speaker. He's not. I would describe him more as heartfelt and sincere. He admits he's no born speaker. But that's one reason I have been so impressed with him, both in an interview I did with him last week and in Monday's GU talk.

He doesn't have any of the smooth slickness of a politician, a huckster or an evangelist. He's just a guy who thought he saw something that needed doing, and kept doing it until he got it done. And then he kept doing it after that.

If you missed the speech — maybe you were watching a certain basketball game — I would encourage you to get a copy of “Three Cups of Tea” (and after that, “Stones Into Schools”). His story is told more thoroughly there — and it's a story that may change the way you think about the world.

Here's one of his insights: Educate a boy and you educate an individual. Educate a girl and you end up educating  the whole village 

Greg Mortenson on the military

I just finished interviewing Greg Mortenson, the co-author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools.” I have tremendous admiration for him and his work building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I have written an extensive story for Saturday's paper.

But I didn't have enough space to include all of the topics we discussed, including this fascinating one: His changing perception of America's military.

 Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

“In 'Three Cups of Tea,' I was fairly critical of the military. I said they were all laptop warriors. … But my opinion of the military has really changed. The military really gets it. …

“Because many of our troops have been on the ground three or four times, of all of our government entities, the military understands and has an awareness of respecting the elders and building relationships and listening to the people. There has been a huge learning curve.”

In fact, the military sought him out as an adviser on how to effectively build relationships with the Afghan people. 

He'll be speaking at Gonzaga University on Monday at 7 p.m. Tickets available through TicketsWest.

The Big Read is on a roll

Spokane’s Big Read is already getting rave reviews in its first week.

Verne Windham of KPBX-FM wrote to tell me that he was amazed by the theater adaptation of “Tim O'Brien's “The Things They Carried.” He praised it for its “deep, thorough characterizations” and “consistent attention to detail.”

Tim O'Brien's novel was adapted by Jeffrey Sanders and directed by Sara Goff in this Eastern Washington University theater department production. It has three more performances at EWU's Campus 210 Theatre, Thursday at 5 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 or free with EWU student ID. Then it wil be reprised on March 18, 7:30 p.m., at the Bing Crosby Theater in a free presentation.

.Want more details on the many Big Read events, and lots of them? Go here.

Free books at Big Read kickoff

The kick-off event for Spokane's Big Read will take place at the Spokane City Hall Chambers on Friday (March 4) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. — and organizers will be handing out free copies of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O'Brien.

This won't be the only place to get a free copy of this book. Book Crossing is doing a “read and release” program in ensuing weeks, in which copies of the book will be left around town for people to pick up and read. 

The idea is to get as many people as possible to read this epic novel about the Vietnam War and its consequences. More than a month of events will culminate in O'Brien's appearance at Get Lit! on April 16.

Friday's kickoff event will also include readings by a number of veterans: Gary Duvall, David Baird, Suzanne Williams and others.

At the same time, you should check out the opening reception of the related art exhibit at the Chase Gallery, titled  “Telling the American Story: History, Memory, Place, Story, Picture, Space.” The gallery is also at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Both the Big Read kickoff and the gallery opening are free.

(Photo courtesy of Get Lit!)

Keillor reads a local poet

Local poet Jonathan Potter had a national airing today. Garrison Keillor read Potter's poem “You and I” on “The Writer's Almanac” on NPR this morning.

A few weeks ago, Potter sent Keillor his poetry volume, “House of Words,” published by Korrektiv Press, expecting … well, not much. What he got instead was a call asking permission to read a poem on the air,

Potter pronounced himself “giddy with gratitude, grateful with gidditude, and feeling slightly above average.” You can read what else Potter says about it here.

Rick Moody on the way to Gonzaga

Gonzaga University’s Visiting Writers Series hosts its biggest name of the year on Wednesday (March 2): Rick Moody.

Moody is the author of the novels “Garden State,” “Purple America,” “The Diviners” and most recently, “The Four Fingers of Death.”

He is perhaps best known for his 1994 novel, “The Ice Storm,” which was made into an acclaimed 1997 film with Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Tobey Maguire, directed by Ang Lee. It’s about a tumultuous family gathering in Connecticut.

The Village Voice has described him as the “self-styled avenging angel of highbrow literary cool.” NPR described “The Four Fingers of Death” as “dense, provocative and often hilarious.”

His readings are events in themselves. He’ll be doing a question-answer session at 1:10 p.m. at GU’s Wolff Auditorium and the reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Cataldo Globe Room, both on Wednesday. Both events are free.

A WWII radioman’s ‘tower’ of power

Here’s a local development that illustrates the power of a book: On Dec. 22, the tower at Spokane International Airport was officially named the Ray Daves Air Traffic Control Tower.

And it all came about because of the 2008 book “Radioman: An Eyewitness Account of Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific” (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press) by Carol Hipperson, a Spokane author.

“Radioman” is about Ray Daves, a local Pearl Harbor survivor. His story resonated with the air traffic controllers at the airport, who started a drive to name the tower after their fellow radioman.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it took an act of Congress. But they persevered, and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate came on board. On Dec. 22, President Obama signed a bill officially naming the tower after Daves.

And on Feb. 25, Daves and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who sponsored the legislation, will be at the tower for a dedication ceremony.

“It’s about the power of a book,” said Hipperson. “You could even refer to it as a ‘concrete example.’”

Dubious mystery genres

One thing about being the books editor – I have the privilege of sorting through a lot of review copies.

And before I started doing this I was oblivious to a pervasive publishing trend – the mystery series tied to hobbies, pets, professions and other niche interests. I had no idea that there were, for instance, knitting mysteries.

Here are a few other genres in my basket right now:

The embroidery mystery.

The “magical cats” mystery.

The Victorian craftsperson mystery.

The “crime of fashion” mystery.

The Southern beauty shop mystery.

The cupcake bakery mystery.

The Algonquin Roundtable mystery.

The ghost hunter mystery.

The talk radio mystery.

I was beginning to wonder what would be the ultimate unlikely mystery genre – and then this crossed my desk: “Drip Dead,” by Christy Evans, a plumber’s apprentice mystery. It features “plumbing tricks and tips” and is actually pretty entertaining.

Yet I’ll bet, if we put our heads together, we can think of some even more unlikely mystery genres.

Let me throw an idea out here to get you started: A co-ed badminton league mystery. Share your ideas.

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