You have to love a writer like Denis Johnson. For one thing, he's talented. The fact that he just won a National Book Award for his epic novel "Tree of Smoke" (all 624 pages of it) is only the latest argument underscoring that opinion.
As part of The Big Read – the reading project co-sponsored by Spokane Public Library, Spokane Country Library District and the Fairchild Air Force Base Library – area residents are being encouraged to spend the month of February reading Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel "The Maltese Falcon." Now movie fans are being invited to join in. Spokane County film fans between the ages of 14 and 25 are encouraged to read the novel and then interpret it as well as possible in a three- to five-minute short film.
Though he now lives in Ohio, the prolific science fiction writer John Dalmas spent the better part of two decades living on Spokane's North Side. It was in the basement of his duplex apartment that he wrote a number of his 27 novels, which include such titles as "The Regiment," "The Helverti Invasion" and "Fanglith."
Steve Oliver is looking for a few good stories. Oliver, owner of the late, lamented Dark City Mystery Bookstore, knows a bit about writing. He's the author of the Spokane-based "Moody" series ("Moody Gets the Blues," "Moody in Winter," "Moody Forever"), and the author/publisher of the crime compilation "Spokane Crime Stories 1907."
If you read The Spokesman-Review Book Club story on page D3, you know that the reading selection for December is Spokane-based author Jack Nisbet's 1994 book "Sources of the River: Tracking David Thompson Across Western North America." The book, which won the Murray Morgan Prize, a Washington Governor's Writers Award and was named Idaho Library Book of the Year, was republished in May by Seattle's Sasquatch Books with a new introduction by Canadian historian Ian MacLaren.
His reading at Auntie's Bookstore won't take place until Nov. 30, but when he does show, Colorado-based author Brian Mandabach ("Or Not") will be presenting more than a critically acclaimed young-adult novel to Spokane readers. He has a local connection to offer.
We all have dreams. Many of them remain merely that. Melvin Barnes' goal seemed more like a fantasy. Inspired by his fourth-grade teacher, the Oklahoma-born carpenter fantasized about living in Alaska.
It's no secret that more Artist Trust grants go to artists on the west side of the state than waft over to this side of the Cascades. So it behooves all writers and painters and sculptors and photographers, etc., who live in the more rural parts of central and Eastern Washington to pay attention when Artist Trust comes calling with advice.
It was five years ago in October that we began The Spokesman-Review Book Club. We read Kent Haruf's novel "Plainsong," the only book to date that hasn't had some sort of tie with the Pacific Northwest.
With the Spokane Jewish Film Festival continuing tonight and Monday at Gonzaga Law School, it would seem a natural fit to continue with the Spokane Public Library's Jewish Literature Reading and Discussion Series, which resumes Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the South Hill Branch, 3324 S. Perry St. The ongoing reading series, which continues through January, focuses this time on Polish-born memoirist Anzia Yezierska and her book "Bread Givers."
You'd never know from reading his comic strip that there is a sadness at the center of Chad Carpenter's life. Carpenter is the Alaska-based cartoonist whose strip "Tundra" begins running today in The Spokesman-Review. (The Sunday strip will begin Nov. 4).
Many years ago, when Jerry Pallotta began reading to his young children, he did so from books in which the letter "A" always stood for apple, "Z" for zebra. As he says on his Web site, www.jerrypallotta.com, he gradually realized that he could do better. The result was a writing career of 20-odd books, including "The Icky Bug Alphabet Book" and "Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight?"
Writers spend a lot of time by themselves, dreaming up scenarios that fill the books they want the rest of us to read. Then they go out to meet the public, trying their best to get us to pop $20 or $30 for the final product. Some writers love the sales process. Others loathe it. Jess Walter has experienced all aspects of the writing trade, from writing all alone in his West Spokane neighborhood office to hitting the sales trail in bookstores across the country.
Since the days of "Heart of Darkness" author Joseph Conrad, and maybe even before, writers have talked about visitors to the continent "going African." It's hard to say exactly what that term means. As with all other all-inclusive descriptions, definitions usually are linked to the individuals they're applied to.
It's the eve of October, and you know what that means. It's time for Spokane Is Reading, the annual community read-along – now in its sixth year – that invites area literature fans to tackle the same book.
William D. Layman owes the judges of the 2007 Washington State Book Awards a double dose of thanks. The Wenatchee-based author of "River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia" (University of Washington Press, 150 pages, $40) first needs to thank the judges for choosing "River of Memory" as the winner in the general nonfiction category.
Gonzaga University will kick off its 2007-08 Visiting Writers Series on Tuesday by presenting poet Herman Asarnow. Asarnow, who will read at 7:30 p.m. in GU's Foley Teleconference Room, is a professor of English at the University of Portland. He is author of the collection "Glass Bottom Boat" and has had poems published in such literary journals as Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review and the Seattle Review.