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Jess Walter structures his book about two lovable, penniless brothers trying to make ends meet in Spokane as a concoction of tales swirling around the violent repression of laborers in the early 20th century. The result could have been an earnest historical novel about the brutal struggle for fair wages, but Walter has instead created a rip-roaring work.
Inspired by a project the Minneapolis Star had planned in 2013, the original idea for “Summer Stories” was to run a serialized novel in Sunday’s Today section of The Spokesman-Review. When several local authors started releasing short-story collections around the same time, Carolyn Lamberson, then the features editor, had another idea.
Novelist Jess Walter’s latest book was driven, in part, by the “horror of the inequality in income and wealth in America,” both now and when the story is set, he told the Northwest Passages Book Club Monday.
It’s a turbulent time, driven by a stark, ridged divide in wealth. Peaceful protests erupt in the street, disrupted by violent agitators and police brutality. Women struggle to be treated as equals. Those who feel oppressed by the selfishness of injustice want social change now.
When Maya Zeller was beginning her graduate work as a poetry student in Eastern Washington University’s MFA program in 2005, she attended a student reading where she saw Jess Walter in the crowd.
Local and No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Jess Walter had always dreamt of becoming a novelist, but journalism came to him first. He couldn’t have asked for a better detour, he said. “It was a great thing for me, to find that sense of curiosity and the deadline chops you get as a writer,” Walter said.
Writing novels is a lonely occupation. But Spokane, which lives up to its reputation as a literary hotbed, boasts a number of talented novelists. Some of the wordsmiths, such as Jess Walter and Chris Crutcher, are close friends. The latter, whose novels include "Loser's Bracket" and "Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes," is a vocal fan of Walter.
For Jess Walter, his native Spokane inspired his latest novel, "The Cold Millions." New York, Hollywood and Italy were the scenes of some of Walter's prior novels, but the winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 2005 for "Citizen Vince" taps into his hometown for "The Cold Millions." The novel commences in 1909 in Peace Valley Park.
When you’re the younger brother of a New York Times bestselling author, you tend to get peppered with a lot of questions:
Who says you can't stay home? It's a modification of the Bon Jovi hit, but the bottom line is that Jess Walter has enjoyed a great deal of success as a writer without leaving his hometown of Spokane. Here's a few fun facts about the East Valley High School alumnus.
Spokane native, journalist and award-winning novelist Jess Walter is publishing his seventh novel this month: “The Cold Millions.” This is in addition to a 2013 collection of short stories and his first book, a 1995 retelling of the Ruby Ridge incident, which Walter covered for The Spokesman-Review.
It was quiet for 140 years. Then, in March, the mountain began to rumble: earthquakes, bursts of steam, blue flame, ash clouds that sparked 2-mile bolts of lightning. All spring, the volcano seethed, spewed and shuddered, magma bubbling up its throat and pushing the north flank out 5 feet a day.
“Mulan” (2020) director Niki Caro will direct Neal Street and Amblin Productions’ upcoming co-produced adaptation of author Jess Walter's bestselling novel “Beautiful Ruins,” the studios announced Tuesday.
Always scheduled for the second Monday of June, the Wet Dog Fur Open – the S-R sports department’s unauthorized golf tournament that has produced enough embarrassing moments to make even John Daly blush – is circled on most of our calendars like Christmas. Until this year. Like most everything else this spring, our tournament was shelved by COVID-19. While not exactly a sad moment, it’s a nostalgic one nonetheless.
Long before works of short fiction read by talented actors are broadcast into our homes, cars and assorted listening devices by Spokane Public Radio, they begin life in a live performance setting. Since 1985, “Selected Shorts” has been performed before enthusiastic audiences on stage at New York City’s Symphony Space. During the COVID-19 pandemic, “Selected Shorts” organizers, like many other artist groups, have pivoted to virtual. The first “Virtual Selected Shorts” program debuted on the Symphony Space YouTube channel on Wednesday night.
The New York Times bestselling author Jess Walter revealed the cover of his upcoming novel, “The Cold Millions,” on Twitter this morning. The book, Walter’s seventh novel, is slated for release Oct. 6.
As the coronavirus pandemic has exploded and our lives have been turned upside down, we’ve had to adjust even our most comforting routines. Even something as inane as old-man basketball.
“But the great thing about books is that they get spread by word of mouth,” Walter said. Word about “We Live in Water” might have been spread initially by Twitter instead of by mouth on Saturday, but it still proved Walter’s maxim right, as Obama’s 111 million followers found out about his high esteem for the six-year-old collection of mostly Spokane-based fiction.
In the final installment of the 2019 Summer Stories series, Jess Walter tells the tale of a teacher dealing with the parents of his worst student. Revisit previous entries in the Summer Stories series at spokesman.com/summer-stories.
Spokane authors got the chance to meet local readers and Spokane readers got a chance to hear from a slate of local writers Wednesday night, during a Northwest Passages Book Club celebration of The Spokesman-Review’s annual Summer Series of short fiction.