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Posts tagged: Literature

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

A new Josh Ritter hit — a novel

Josh Ritter is a first-time novelist with a well-known name.

Ritter is the singer-songwriter, originally from Moscow, Idaho, who has a great national following for his well-crafted, literate songs.

So now Ritter the wordsmith has turned his hand to a new craft with his debut novel, “Bright’s Passage” (Dial Press, $22). It’s the story of a young man returning home after World War I. The story includes an angels and a talking horse. Actually, horse and angel are one and the same.

The novel was just released on Tuesday and is already getting praise from some well-known literary names. Dennis Lehane calls it “heartbreaking and luminous.”

Critic Carolyn Kellogg of the L.A. Times calls it “intensensly beautiful, tragic and also funny.”

She writes that Ritter said the idea first started out as a song, but it “wanted to be more.”

“He knows how to build a rich, beautiful story with shape,” writes Kellogg.

Here's a link to the LA Times review.

And here's a link to a short interview he did for the Washington Post. Looks like our region might have a new homegrown literary star.

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,

Two important new Hanford books

Here are two new books about a crucial and controversial issue in our region:

  •  “Atomic Frontier Days: Hanford and the American West” (University of Washington Press, $24.95), by John M. Findlay and Bruce Hevly. The authors tell the complex and fascinating story of Hanford’s atomic legacy. It was a vast area of sagebrush which was converted overnight during World War II to a super-secret federal bomb-building facility. Our region is still dealing with many Hanford-related issues today – environmental, political and socialOne reviewer has already called it “a must-read for anyone interested and concerned about this nation’s nuclear legacy.” Both authors are history professors at the University of Washington. Findlay specializes in the Northwest and the American West, and Hevly specializes in the history of science and technology. They “offer perspective on today’s controversies,” according to the publisher. It was just released this month and you can find it at local bookstores, online or here. .
  • “Made in Hanford: The Bomb That Changed the World” (Washington State University Press, $22.95) by Hill Williams. Williams, a former science writer for the Seattle Times, is particularly well-suited to this subject. His father was editor of the Pasco Herald during World War II – and one of the few people in on part of the secret. Williams went on to write about Hanford and other nuclear issues for the Seattle Times. He also had access to the personal diaries of one of Hanford’s key figures. The book combines his personal story with detailed scientific and historic research. You should be able to find it at local bookstores and online or at wsupress.wsu.edu.

Why Hal Holbrook deserves a Kennedy Center Honor

I just finished writing a story about Hal Holbrook — it will appear in the paper March 10 in advance of his March 12 appearance here in “Mark Twain Tonight!” — when I realized something surprising. Holbrook has never received a Kennedy Center Honor or a National Arts Medal.

Few actors have, of course; these are very selective honors. Yet it seems to me that Holbrook has a particularly strong claim for consideration:

  • His Emmy-winning portrayal of Abe Lincoln in the 1974 TV series based on Carl Sandburg's biographies (one of three Emmy awards).
  • His portrayal of Deep Throat in “All the President's Men.”
  • His portrayal as the Stage Manager in the 1977 version of “Our Town”
  • His many other film roles, including his Oscar nominated performance at age 82 in Sean Penn's “Into the Wild.”
  • And finally, for his stage show, “Mark Twain Tonight!” which has brought the words of Mark Twain alive for more than 50 years.

I say he belongs in the same company as other Kennedy Center recipients, such as Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston and Robert Redford, and other National Arts Medal winners, such as Robert Duvall and Angela Lansbury.

Let's mount a Hal Holbrook appreciation campaign. Is anyone with me on this?

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News and commentary about the arts, culture and books in the Inland Northwest.

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