Tommy rolls another joint and hands it over the back of the bench seat to the hippie chick riding shotgun in the 1966 VW van that picked him up more than an hour ago hitching on Highway 80 across the southern Idaho desert.
All Jack wants for his 69th birthday is to celebrate the way the people used to: around the table, feasting with friends, everyone happy. Is that too much to ask? “A party in these times?” When Jack had apparated to his daughter’s place with the invitation, her husband, Bob, hadn’t even tried to hide his contempt. He’d smirked at Sunny, who shook her head ever so slightly. But Bob was never to be dissuaded from speaking his mind, especially when he had something negative to say, which was always. “Nabob,” Jack calls him under his breath.
Welcome to Summer Stories, The Spokesman-Review’s annual short-fiction series. For 10 weeks, some of Spokane’s best writers will share new, original works of short fiction based on a central theme.
Young readers would do well to learn George Takei’s story of a childhood set against a historically racist backdrop, told in clear and unmuddled prose. As our politicians trade semantics, “They Called Us Enemy” calls upon readers to see past the walls, cages and words that divide us.
Last year British author Louise Candlish made her American debut with “Our House,” a domestic thriller about a woman whose life spirals after she finds strangers taking over her London townhouse. Now Candlish returns with a mordant tale called “Those People.” She could well have titled it “Our Houses” since the plot finds several homes and their owners threatened by obnoxious newcomers.
This column has often emphasized the importance of poetry that notices what’s right under our noses, and this poem by David Mason, the former poet laureate of Colorado, who is currently living in Tasmania, is a good example of what you can see if you stop to look.
An acquaintance who studied electrical engineering received a plum job offer from a military contractor after graduation. He turned the offer down. Unlike poor Mildred “Millie” Groves in this novel, he could not see an ethical way to dispense his labor for blood money. Millie in “The Cassandra,” graduate of an Omak, Washington, secretarial school class of five, gets a job on the Hanford Project during World War II. Plutonium is being manufactured there for the bombs to be rained on Japan. Millie’s ability to foresee the future taints her being. Taints it because, like the prophetess of the book’s title, she is fated never to be respected or believed.
In this week’s Summer Stories entry, Stephanie Oakes introduces us to Hannah, a woman who faces life on her own terms, even when it all seems predetermined.
Seeing photos of historic sites are often enough for me. I look for experiences with humans.
We haven’t published nearly enough poems written for young people, and here’s one I like a great deal.
In week two of “Summer Stories: Summer of ’69,” novelist Kris Dinnison tells the story of a family grappling in the face of the Vietnam War.
Rarely has Joyce Carol Oates created a protagonist as compelling as Violet Rue Kerrigan, the young woman who painfully comes of age in “My Life as a Rat.” And that’s saying something, because Oates, one of America’s greatest living writers, has created many unforgettable characters in her scores of novels, novellas and short stories.
I am often asked if I know of a good poem to be read at a wedding, and here’s one by James Bertolino, from his new and selected poems, “Ravenous Bliss.” Bertolino lives in Washington state.
Peter Heller will be in Spokane on Tuesday for an evening discussion with the Northwest Passages Book Club. The acclaimed writer of books such as “Kook,” “The Dog Stars” and “The Painter,” will talk about his latest book, “The River,” at the Montvale Event Center.
Mead High School alumni Ty Brown set out to learn more about the history of his family, who founded Wandermere Golf Course, and ended up writing a history book instead.
Mark Twain said many funny, true, quotable things, but among them was not “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything out it.” He simply repeated the quip of his friend, Charles Dudley Warner. But it’s nonetheless true. Especially during extreme changes in climate, we sure can spend a lot of time talking about something whose outcome we are can affect not at all. Just as some of us can enjoy hours discussing spectator sports. We weigh in with opinions about players and coaches, curse out refs, and bond in good fellowship.
Mark your calendars for events celebrating books, basketball and cooking.
The Odd Fellows hall in downtown Spokane on West First Avenue has been revamped as the Montvale Event Center. The Northwest Passages Book Club is among the groups hosting events there.
When I was a nasty little kid I once made fun of a girl in my school because her father worked cutting up dead animals at a rendering plant. My mother sat me down and said, “Ted, all work is honorable.” I’ve never forgotten that. Here’s a fine poem about the nobility of work by Sally Bliumis-Dunn.
The author will discuss his latest novel in a gathering of the Northwest Passages Book Club on June 25 at the Bing Crosby Theater.