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Roundup: New book celebrates Adams County

A stunning new coffee table book, “Drylands: A Rural American Saga” (University of Nebraska Press, $27.95), celebrates an under-celebrated corner of our region: the drylands country of Adams County.

That includes Ritzville, Lind, Washtucna, Othello and a whole lot of wheat and sage.

The book’s authors, writer Steve Turner and photographer Lionel Delevingne, have chronicled many parts of America over the years. Yet of all of those places, they say the “drylands of central Washington most compellingly drew both of us back.”

Turner first came to Adams County in 1958 as a Vermont college student on summer break, to work the harvests. He fell in love with the place.

As his reporting and writing career developed (he has written for the Boston Globe and the New York Times), he said he always found reasons to come back to Adams County. This book, of course, was the ultimate reason.

Photographer Delevingne, originally from France, said that he became “captured by the extraordinary landscape, the determined families who make their livelihoods from it, and the friendliness and cultural rituals of this off-the-beaten path place.”

The book has 36 color and 71 black-and-white photographs, some of them of stunning vistas, gorgeous skies and happy residents. Yet it does not sugarcoat life in the drylands; it also chronicles the tough conditions and the boarded-up downtowns.

‘Purple Flat Top’

Back in 1996, Spokane author Jack Nisbet first published “Purple Flat Top: In Pursuit of a Place,” a collection of stories about the people and natural history of Northeastern Washington (the Colville Valley, in particular).

Now, the University of Washington Press has reissued the book in a handsome new paperback edition with a new introduction by Nisbet. The book is also part-memoir of his time living near Chewelah.

Ivan Doig said this of Nisbet: “An unsung corner of the West has found its troubadour.”

Nisbet will read from “Purple Flat Top” on Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Auntie’s Bookstore, 402 W. Main Ave.

‘The Fat Detective’

Another well-known local writer, John Soennichsen, will read from his recently released mystery novel, “The Fat Detective” (CreateSpace, $8.99) on Friday, 7 p.m. at Auntie’s Bookstore.

It’s a comic detective novel set in Spokane, and the subtitle is “A Gruesome Tale of Murder, Mayhem, and Bad Puns from the Crime-Ridden Streets of Spokane, Washington.”

‘Driving in the Dark’

The new collection of true stories, “Spokane: Driving in the Dark” by former Spokane cabbie Rocky Wilson, is now on shelves. Wilson will read from the book Thursday, 7 p.m. at Auntie’s.

A new N.D. Wilson

N.D. Wilson, the popular young-adult author from Moscow, Idaho, has launched a new series with a book called “Ashtown Burials I: The Dragon’s Tooth.”

Publisher Random House has just produced an entertaining new trailer promoting the book, starring Joel Courtney, the star of this summer’s hit movie “Super 8.” Courtney is also from Moscow (see related item in today’s Spotlight column).

Wilson’s previous series, “The 100 Cupboards,” has sparked comparisons with “Harry Potter.” To see the trailer, go to

‘Packing for Mars’ alert

It’s high time to get started on Mary Roach’s “Packing for Mars,” this year’s selection for Spokane Is Reading.

That’s because the main events are coming up on Oct. 20: a reading at the Garland Theater, 924 W. Garland Ave., at 1 p.m. and another reading at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave., at 7 p.m. Both events are free.

‘Blue Heavens’ alert

Meanwhile, readers in the Palouse might want to get started on “Blue Heaven” by C.J. Box.

That’s the Everybody Reads selection for that region. It’s a mystery thriller and 2008 Edgar Award winner set in North Idaho. A 12-year-old girl and her younger brother witness a murder – and then they have to go on the run through the woods. The setting, a place with a lot of retired L.A. cops, may remind you of Sandpoint and vicinity.

Box will make a series of appearances from Nov. 7 through 10 in Pullman, Moscow, Colfax, Lewiston and Clarkston. We’ll run the complete list as the dates approach, or you can find one at

Ryan Leaf at Auntie’s

Former Washington State University quarterback Ryan Leaf has just been booked in to Auntie’s Bookstore on Oct. 16, 1 to 3 p.m. to autograph his new memoir, “596 Switch: The Improbable Journey from the Palouse to Pasadena.”

It tells the long and winding Leaf saga, from his own perspective.