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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Recalling 2008; resolutions for 2009

Three days past Christmas and the new year is looming.

Time to recall a few memories from 2008 and work out a few resolutions for 2009.

•Of all the events that occurred during Get Lit! 2008, my favorite was David James Duncan’s talk at Spokane Community College.

As I wrote in my blog, Duncan started out seemingly a bit depressed.

“Yet as he continued,” I wrote, “he seemed to revive. He passed on reading pieces that he described as ‘heavy,’ opting for those that were, while not necessarily lighter in theme, certainly tamer in tone.”

One that proved particularly moving is titled “Agony & Hilarity,” which details his public confrontation with a young animal-rights activist.

“The story is a good example of how two people from opposite points of view can, if their hearts (if not minds) are open, reconcile their staunchly held opinions,” I wrote.

“As Duncan wrote in the story, he responded to the young woman’s accusations that he was a ‘salmon torturer’ by stepping away from his anger. ‘I unfolded my heart,’ Duncan wrote. ‘And inside its vast wildness my anger gave way to a sudden affection for the feisty young activist.’ ”

We should all be so compassionate during the coming year.

•I resolve to attend as much of Get Lit! 2009 as I can. The event, which will be held in Cheney and Spokane from April 10 to 19, will offer novelist Jane Smiley (“A Thousand Acres”), poet Simon Armitage (“Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid”), nonfiction writer Paul Roberts (“The End of Oil”) and a gaggle of others, including Northwest writers such as Sam Green, Craig Welch and Teri Hein.

•If you want to get an early start of Get Lit! 2009, you might consider attending the First Night event that will be held Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Auntie’s Bookstore, Main and Washington.

Among the highlights will be appearances by Spokane children’s author Kelly Milner Halls, who will introduce her books (including “Dinosaur Mummies,” “Tales of the Cryptids” and “Mysteries of the Kid Mummies”), and Patrick Carman (author of the “Land of Elyon” series).

Admission is free for children age 10 and younger. All others must purchase a First Night button ($15, with a $3 discount for advance purchase). For information, go to

•One of the benefits of my job is that I get to talk, mostly over the phone, with a variety of writers. Maybe my favorite interview of 2008 was the 44-minute long-distance conversation that I had with former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass in advance of his Feb. 25 reading at Gonzaga University.

Referring to his two-year reign as Poet Laureate, Hass was frank about how he approached what is essentially an honorary title.

“I thought at the time that maybe things could be done to treat it more seriously, to take it as an opportunity to a spokesperson or ambassador for American writing,” he said. “And I really tried to do that, which was quite time-consuming.

“And it made me feel like I’d been elected class monitor – you know, going around and talking to literacy conferences in Nebraska.”

•Looking ahead, the GU’s 2008-09 Visiting Writers Series continues Feb. 3 with poet Li-Young Lee, March 3 with GU alumni writers Joe Wilkins and Claire McQueery, March 24 with Alexandra Fuller, and ends April 9 with GU English professor/novelist Beth Cooley.

For information about the series, call Tod Marshall at (509) 313-6681.

•I resolve in 2009 to read the only book by Spokane author Jess Walter that I haven’t yet finished. I won’t say what that book is, but I will list the man’s bibliography so far:

“Every Knee Shall Bow” (aka “Ruby Ridge,” 1995), “In Contempt” (with Christopher Darden, 1996), “Slaying the Dragon: From Small Steps to Great Strides, How to Achieve Your Own Personal Best” (with Michael Johnson, 1997), “Over Tumbled Graves” (2001), “Land of the Blind” (2003), “Citizen Vince” (2005), “The Zero” (2006).

I think I hit all of Walter’s books. If not, be sure to let me know.

Crime time

Steve Oliver reports that copies of his new collection, “Spokane Crime Stories 1908,” are at Auntie’s Bookstore and will soon be available through As of Christmas Eve, Auntie’s still had 15 copies on its shelves. Call (509) 838-0206.

On the ‘Radioman’

According to a holiday gift guide, Spokane author Carol Edgemon Hipperson’s nonfiction book “Radioman: An Eyewitness Account of Pearl Harbor & World War II in the Pacific” has been named as one of “10 Books For The Political Junkie On Your List.”

Bear that in mind when, over the next couple of weeks, you’re spending those bookstore gift certificates you received as Christmas gifts.

The reader board

•Patrick Carman, Kelly Milner Halls (First Night Get Lit! event), 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Auntie’s Bookstore, Main and Washington. Call (509) 838-0206.

•Rex B. Valentine (“Tiddlywinks – the Little Horse with Three Ears”), signing, 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Lincoln Heights Hastings, 2512 E. 29th Ave. Call (509) 535-4242.

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