I was very pleased to learn that Jess Walter won the Washington Center for the Book Award for fiction for his novel, “The Cold Millions.” And I was equally pleased to see that the SR made it front page news (even if it was the Saturday, online only edition).
Jess Walter is among the nation’s finest living novelists. He has great range, typified by “Beautiful Ruins,” moving in time and place between Italy and Hollywood, and “The Zero,” which begins with 9/11 in NYC, especially meaningful as I write on the 20th anniversary of the attacks. Its opening pages are the finest in contemporary American literature.
But Walter’s literary reputation rests most solidly on his Spokane novels - “The Cold Millions,” “Citizen Vince” and “Financial Lives of the Poets.” His ability to capture the essence of the city is precisely what makes it universal.
Spokane is a tough town. “The Cold Millions” makes clear it always has been. As the bum in the boxcar advises Ry, “Get off before Spokane. The tracks keep going, but there’s nothing west of dead.” Yet it’s also the city of second chances, as Citizen Vince can attest.
I hope his publisher will reissue these three great books as The Spokane Trilogy. Jess Walter is going places, and he’s taking us with him.