"I was born with water on the brain." Those are the opening lines of Sherman Alexie's new novel, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (Little, Brown; $16.99, 230 pages), which is being marketed as the author's "first novel for young adults."
No one, least of all Chris Crutcher, could have predicted the fame that would come his way as a writer. Crutcher, after all, was the roommate of the writer. It was his friend Terry Davis who, if life were a Hollywood comedy, was supposed to maintain top billing.
A few weeks ago, I pointed out that the 2007 Artist Trust GAP awards displayed a distinct West Side flavor. In that spirit, it's only right that I point out something else: Artist Trust is sponsoring a pair of workshops that should help anyone wanting to qualify for grants.
Elvis Presley has been dead for 30 years and three days now. It was on Aug. 16, 1977, that his body was found on the bathroom floor of Graceland, his Memphis, Tenn., mansion. And yet he remains a recognizable part of international popular culture.
September is approaching, and that means another school year is ready to begin. Over at Gonzaga University, it also means that a full season of the Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series will commence.
The world can't have too many literary journals. One of the latest to enter the scene is called The Whitefish Review. As described in a press release by editor Brian Schott, "The 128-page soft cover book features established and emerging authors and artists with a leaning toward the literature of mountain culture."
In last week's column, I pointed out that the 2007 Artist Trust GAP awards bore a distinctly west-of-the-Cascades look. Of the 77 artists (out of 795 applicants) who won awards of up to $1,500, only six were from Eastern Washington. And of those, only one qualified for a literary grant: Pasco's Gwendolyn James.
For guys who were raised on Hemingway novels, TV Westerns and Steve McQueen movies, the stories of Thom Jones are irresistible. In fact, the very word irresistible – which came from a New York Times review – is emblazoned on the cover of the paperback edition of Jones' first short-story collection, 1993's "The Pugilist at Rest," which just happens to be the August choice of The Spokesman-Review Book Club.
In the press information accompanying the announcement of the 2007 Grants for Arts Project awards, the sponsoring entity – Artist Trust – does bit of bragging about its support of Washington state arts. And much of it is justified. Some examples: The 77 GAP awards given out represent a "45 percent increase in the number of awards given from 2006."
Howard Frank Mosher is a natural raconteur. In a 20-minute phone interview, you're apt to find out a number of things. That he's in the midst of a 100-city book tour in support of his latest novel, "On Kingdom Mountain," for example – a tour that will bring him to Auntie's Bookstore at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Nothing would please me more than being able to fill this column with Harry Potter clichés. But that's not going to happen. We've been given orders to avoid hackneyed, J.K. Rowling-inspired phrases as if they were Dementors in debt.
Jeff Standal, a 52-year-old area businessman, once scoffed at the idea of online dating. "I think two or three years ago, and this is just my perception, it still had a tacky kind of quality about it," he said. "It was just kind of an instinctive thing."
In 2001, Barbara Ehrenreich laid bare the myth that anyone can make it in America. Her book "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" demonstrated just how difficult it is to make a living – to have an actual functional life – while working on the survival wages of an unskilled worker.
It's a couple of Sundays away, but Father's Day is coming. So I thought I'd offer up a half-dozen book-related suggestions that a lot of dads might find interesting. Most of these came in as review copies, so I haven't had time to do anything more than flip through each to get a sense of what's inside.
There's nothing precious about Robert Wrigley's poetry. Wrigley, a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Idaho, is a writer of the West. He works in the arena of nature, and his imagery – dealing with topics from the existence of God, to the "pure oceanic illogic" of Rilke's arguments, to the plaster cast of a man's penis – is delivered in language that is as muscular as it is metaphorical.
Give Spokane's librarians a grade of "A" for their continuing efforts to get children interested in reading. A joint program between Spokane County Library District and Spokane Public Library systems, called Get a Clue! @ Your Library, is designed to help children keep track of the books they have read over the summer.
A couple of regional writers have new books out. First up is Spokane children's poet Kenn Nesbitt. His book is titled "Revenge of the Lunch Ladies: The Hilarious Book of School Poetry" (Meadowbrook Press, 74 pages, $8.95 paper).
Like many writers, Anne Lamott is different things to different readers. She's a novelist ("Hard Laughter," "Blue Shoe") and a writer of nonfiction ("Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life").
There's more than one way to enjoy the comedy works of Patrick F. McManus. You could, for example, track down the various magazines – Field & Stream prominently among them – that have published his short pieces over the years.
One of the upcoming week's more interesting poetry readings will take place on Tuesday at Auntie's Bookstore. That's when Teresa White, Spokane-based author of the new collection "Gardenias for a Beast" (Twin Steps Publishing, 242 pages, $10.99 paperback), will read at 7:30 p.m.
Two special screenings of "Source to Sea: The Columbia River Swim," Andy Norris' documentary about ecology activist Christopher Swain's 2003 swim of the entire Columbia River, will be tonight at the Bing Crosby Theater. Swain swam from the river's source in British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean – a total of 1,243 miles – in six months to make a point about the river's toxic nature.