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Putnam memoir shares familiar faces and places

SUNDAY, FEB. 28, 2010

Ann Putnam’s memoir “Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye” (Southern Methodist University Press, $22.50) is poignant, thoughtful and beautifully written.

Don’t just take my word for it. The Seattle Times called it “a wise and loving affirmation of life lived to the very end.”

The book is also of uncommon local interest. This is Putnam’s touching memoir of her father, Homer Cunningham, a well-known faculty member at Whitworth College (now Whitworth University).

Most of the story takes place in Spokane and is filled with familiar people and places. She cared for her elderly father and his twin brother during a long period of decline.

Putnam now teaches creative writing at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Yet her Spokane roots run deep. She was Mead High School’s Lilac Princess “a million years ago,” in her own words.

She’ll be reading from the book at two events this week:

• Whitworth University’s Weyerhaeuser Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m.

• Auntie’s Bookstore, 402 W. Main Ave., Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Kenney poetry reading

Richard Kenney, from the University of Washington, will be the latest in a lineup of world-class poets and writers brought to Spokane by the Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series.

Kenney received a MacArthur Fellowship grant (aka “genius award”) in 1987. He has published many acclaimed volumes of poetry, including “The One-Strand River: Poems 1994-2007” in 2008.

He’ll be reading from his works on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Gonzaga University’s Cataldo Hall Globe Room. The reading is sponsored by Gonzaga and Humanities Washington, and is free and open to the public.

Another Alexie award?

Sherman Alexie is a finalist for yet another prestigious writing honor: The PEN/Faulkner Award.

His collection of stories, “War Dances,” is one of the nominees for the fiction prize. Other finalists are Barbara Kingsolver, Colson Whitehead, Lorrie Moore and Lorraine N. Lopez.

The winner will be announced March 23.

Noteworthy readings

Here are two particularly noteworthy readings on the schedule this week:

• Novelist Molly Giles, who teaches at the University of Arkansas, will read from “Iron Shoes: A Novel” at Auntie’s Bookstore on Friday at 7 p.m. Her visit is sponsored by the Inland Northwest Center for Writers, based at Eastern Washington University.

Kathleen Norris, the best-selling author of “The Cloister Walk,” “Amazing Grace” and “Dakota,” will be at Auntie’s Bookstore at 2 p.m. Saturday to read from her latest book, “Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks and a Writer’s Life.”

Norris, an editor at large for The Christian Century, is a well-respected author and speaker on the subject of spirituality. She has been called “a docent of hope” by one critic.

Her title subject, “acedia,” is a little-known condition first identified by early Christian monks, which might be summarized as “soul-weariness.”


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