Book Notes: GU Writers Series earns grant for fall

Author Rick Moody (“The Ice Storm”) drew an appreciative crowd at Gonzaga University on Wednesday evening as part of GU’s Visiting Writers Series.

Moody read a section from his latest novel, “The Four Fingers of Death,” about the night desert sky, which included this virtuoso passage:

“The stars were like the future perfect of an uncommon verb. Or the stars were the filaments of discarded human aspirations. Or the stars in the night sky were the innumerable preschoolers of September, afraid to climb onto the bus in order to have their liberty abridged.”

He also read a story composed entirely in short tweets, 140 characters or less.

The reading was a fine reminder of how important this series is to the region’s literary life.

I mention this because some excellent news arrived this week: The National Endowment of the Arts has awarded GU a $10,000 grant to fund a continuation of the series next fall.

The series has received funding from a number of sources over its three-year life, but this is the first from the NEA. In fact, according to series organizer Tod Marshall, it’s Gonzaga’s first NEA grant of any kind.

An NEH fellowship for Sutton

In other grant news, Washington State University history professor Matthew Avery Sutton landed a big one: a $50,400 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete his book, “American Evangelicals and the Politics of Apocalypse.”

It’s scheduled to be published by the Harvard University Press in late 2012. Sutton calls it a comprehensive history of American evangelicalism.

His previous book, “Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America,” won the Harvard University Press’s Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize and was later used as the basis for an “American Experience” documentary on PBS.

Keillor reads Potter’s poem

Local poet Jonathan Potter had a national airing on Monday.

Garrison Keillor read Potter’s poem “You and I” on “The Writer’s Almanac” on National Public Radio (locally on KPBX-FM).

A few weeks ago, Potter sent Keillor his poetry volume, “House of Words” (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.”

A Big Read event

Spokane’s Big Read, which had its official kickoff last week, will continue on Saturday, 11 a.m. at Auntie’s Bookstore, 402 W. Main Ave.

Gary Duvall and Emily Duvall will lead a discussion of the Big Read selection, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.

Also, Diana K. McLean, founder of Poetic Justice, will read from a forthcoming anthology titled “We Also Served: Stories From Military Families.”

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