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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Summer Stories: Queen of the Road

In week 6 of Summer Stories: The Road Trip, novelist and English professor Kim Barnes, of Moscow, Idaho, traces one woman’s journey through sobriety to fulfillment.

The Pirate of Spirit Lake

Spirit Lake was quiet at night, vacation homes edging the shore like distant ships. Ambra Zanetti hung her legs from the dock that sat higher above the water than it had the day before. The lake was dropping, the engineers said, because of holes punched in its clay bottom by pilings pounded in 100 years before by the lumber barons. The piers had rotted, and now the lake was leaking a million gallons a day. Unless something was done, her husband said, their dock would go dry, the boats that came to his pump unable to take on fuel, keep their motors running. Moorage was already impossible. This lake and snowcapped Mount Spokane seemed a miniature of the Italian homeland Ambra had known as a girl. She was a late-in-life child who had lived with her parents and her grandfather in an expansive villa cut into a high hill above Como, the Alps rising behind them. Her grandfather, who made his fortune in silk stockings and had once touched the ankle of Brigitte Bardot, sometimes took her down to swim in a private cove and to fish for perch. He told her that great masted ships had once sailed Lago di Como, and that, before the war, men in small boats went out fishing and returned with their baskets full, but what Ambra knew of the lake was the carnival of lights that haloed the water, the hydrofoils, motorships, and ferries that sped from one village to the next, releasing Germans, Americans, and Japanese onto the docks each morning, shipping them out each night.

Spotlight: Local musicians hope to help tornado victims

Area musicians will perform a concert to benefit victims of last week’s powerful tornado in Moore, Okla. The lineup features Mark Schirtz, winner of the 2011 Spokane’s Got Talent contest and Dawghouse Entertainment recording artist, Tommy G, a two-time Spokane’s Got Talent finalist, rock and country guitarist Kicho Forrest, and the hippie-groove rock band the Angela Marie Project.

Spotlight: Oates joins 2013 lineup for Get Lit!

I think it’s fair to say that Joyce Carol Oates is the headliner of the headliners at this year’s Get Lit! Oates, author of “We Were the Mulvaneys” and dozens of other works, will take the stage at the Bing Crosby Theater on April 12.

Book Notes: Times’ critic praises Lynch

Longtime New York Times critic Janet Maslin has included a novel by a former Spokesman-Review reporter on her list of 10 favorite books of 2012. And no, it was not written by Jess Walter.

Book Notes: Barnes’ latest an adventure set in Saudi Arabia

Kim Barnes, the University of Idaho English professor who has just published her third novel, will be in Spokane this week to read from her new book. “In the Kingdom of Men” tells the story of Gin Mitchell McPhee, a poor Oklahoma girl who marries the local basketball star and heads off to a new life in an oil company compound in Saudi Arabia. When a young Bedouin women is found dead, Gin’s life begins to unravel.

Book Notes: Mix of Johnsons set to appear at Auntie’s

It’s a June of Johnsons at Auntie’s Bookstore. Father and son Larry and Nathan Johnson will sign copies of their book, “Montana Waterfalls: A Guide for Sighters, Hikers and Waterfall Enthusiasts,” from 1-3 p.m. on June 9 on the store’s main floor. Meanwhile, upstairs in the mezzanine, mother and daughter Cinda Johnson and Linea Johnson will present their memoir, “Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey to Survive Bipolar, a Mother’s Struggle to Save Her,” at 2 p.m.

Cancer institute’s study finds unhealthy air in bars

BOISE – Air quality in smoky Idaho bars is worse than smog, according to a study by a prestigious Buffalo, N.Y., cancer institute. The Roswell Park Cancer Institute, working with the Coalition for a Healthy Idaho, found that fine-particulate air pollution in Boise bars that permit smoking is 36 times worse than outdoor pollution levels in the valley, and workers in the bars are exposed to four times the EPA’s standard for annual exposure.

Writer tackles oil culture in next novel

Even though she hasn’t even finished it, Idaho-based writer Kim Barnes has sold her next novel – her third – to the New York publisher Alfred A. Knopf. Barnes is still working on “American Mecca,” which is set in the 1960s in the gated compound of an oil company named Aramco and follows the story of an American couple.