Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seattle Reads; Seattle WRITES

The title of one of my blog entries in June was how Seattle is a bibiloholic’s paradise. However, not only do we buy more books, and carry more library cards per capita than any other city in the United States, Seattle is a major incubator for writers. Its universities have superb creative writing programs and it is a culture and environment conducive to reflection, creativity, and eloquence (being largely trapped indoors many months probably promotes literary productivity as well…)

Seattle is a beehive of authors and while you are here you might want to consider going to one of our superb independent bookstores to hear a reading. Perusing the Elliott Bay Bookstore website, I noted the following author events that will overlap with the NACAC conference:

CHUCK KLOSTERMAN, Sept. 22; DEXTER FILKINS, Sept. 22 at Town Hall ; DAPHNE BEAL, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.; SUSAN MADDEN LANKFORD, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m.; MARK RICHARDSON, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.; IRVINE WELSH, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.; TARIQ ALI, Sept. 24 at Town Hall; RINKU SEN & FEKKAK MAMDOUH, Sept. 25; ROBERT SHILLER, Sept. 25 at Town Hall; ROBERT FISK, Sept. 26 at Seattle Public Central Library; HEDGEBROOK Group Reading, Sept. 26; CURT COLBERT, PETER PLATE & ARTHUR NERSESIAN, Sept. 28.

Reviewing the above mentioned June blog you will note how close Elliott Bay and the flagship Seattle Central Library are to the Convention Center. Town Hall, listed as an author venue, is a community cultural center and speakers’ venue 2 blocks south of the Convention Center. Besides the above, other events at Town Hall during NACAC follow:

Tariq Ali: On Pakistan
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:30 – 9pm
Location: Downstairs at Town Hall, enter on Seneca Street.
Pakistan is the lynchpin of the United States war on terror, yet relations between the two countries are never less than tense. Writer, journalist, and film-maker Tariq Ali, the well-connected, Oxford-educated scion of a famous Punjabi political family, weighs the prospects of those contending for power in The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power. Presented by the Town Hall Center for Civic Life, with Elliott Bay Book Company.

Carol Coletta: Design for Livability
Thursday, September 25, 2008 6 – 7:30pm
Location: Downstairs at Town Hall, enter on Seneca Street.
How do we change the American dream from a society that chooses poorly-planned, sprawling development to one that prefers compact, walkable, well-designed neighborhoods? Carol Coletta, CEO of CEOs for Cities and the host of the syndicated radio program Smart City, explores how to harness our common interests to create vibrant landscapes while conserving critical landscapes in a lecture entitled “Design for Livability: Changing the American Dream.” Presented by the Cascade Land Conservancy, Allied Arts, and the American Institute of Architects

Robert Shiller: 'The Subprime Solution'
Thursday, September 25, 2008 7:30 – 9pm
Location: Downstairs at Town Hall, enter on Seneca Street.
Yale economics professor Robert Shiller rose to fame in 2000 with his best-selling Irrational Exuberance, in which he effectively predicted the tech and stock market crash of 2001. In his new book, The Subprime Solution: How Today’s Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do About It, Shiller looks at how we got into the subprime mess and how we can get out of it. Shiller concludes that unchecked financial innovation works poorly in asset markets and describes the institutional measures he believes are necessary to prevent future such bubbles. Presented by the Town Hall Center for Civic Life, with Elliott Bay Book Company.

Historic Seattle Bungalow Fair
Friday, September 26, 2008 10am – 5pm
Location: Enter on 8th Avenue
Entering its second decade as the premier event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, Town Hall is once again the setting for Historic Seattle’s Bungalow Fair, a show and sale of antiques and new work by fifty of the nation’s leading designers and craftspeople in metal, tile, glass, textiles, ceramics, and lighting. The fair is an opportunity to learn about early 20th century architecture and design, and to get answers from experts in the field.

Ah, but again I digress…back to writers.

Unfortunately, something is wrong with Bailey Coy Books website, so I can’t find their schedule of author readings, but call 206-323-8842 and they can advise you accordingly. Their location on Broadway (yet another earlier blog entry) is adjacent to a multitude of great restaurants, bizarre natives, and the Dilettante CafĂ©.

Of course there are readings at the Seattle Public Libraries. The list of events that overlaps with the NACAC conference follows:

Thursday, Sep. 25, 2008:

Genealogy: Databases & the Internet at the Central Library
4 – 6 p.m.
Where: *Central Library
Learn how to use the electronic databases and Internet resources found on the Seattle Public Library's Web site to search for your ancestors.

Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer discuss 'The True Patriot' at the Capitol Hill Branch
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Where: Capitol Hill Branch
Join co-authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer for a conversation about The True Patriot.

Garth Stein reads at the Ballard Branch
6:30 – 7:45 p.m.
Where: Ballard Branch
Meet author Garth Stein as he reads from The Art of Racing in the Rain, a novel chosen as this summer's #1 must-read by Book Sense, the Starbucks Book Club, the Today Show, and The Early Show.

Friday, Sep. 26, 2008:

2008 Friends of The Seattle Public Library Book Sale: Members Preview Night at Magnuson Park
6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Address: Warren G. Magnuson Park, 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Building #30, Seattle, WA 98125 Where: Non-Library Location
Summary: Join us for the Pacific Northwest's preeminent book sale with more than 200,000 books, records, CDs, DVDs, videos and art prints!

Saturday, Sep. 27, 2008

2008 Friends of The Seattle Public Library Book Sale at Magnuson Park
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Address: Warren G. Magnuson Park, 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Building #30,Seattle, WA 98125
Where: Non-Library Location
Join us for the Pacific Northwest's preeminent book sale with more than 200,000 books, records, CDs, DVDs, videos and art prints!
10:00 am

Patterns, Series, Numbers and Motifs: Resources for A Designing Eye at the Central Library
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Where: *Central Library
Summary: Learn which books, magazines, web pages and images in the Central Library's Art and Picture Files and collection can inspire ideas for incorporating pattern design into your artistic projects.

80th Birthday Celebration at the Greenwood Branch
1 – 6 p.m.
Where: Greenwood Branch
Summary: The Greenwood Branch Library will be celebrating 80 years of library service to the Greenwood Community (1928 - 2008).

'Danger: Books! A Celebration of Intellectual Freedom' at the Delridge Branch
2 – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Delridge Branch
Summary: Book-It Repertory Theatre is bringing its "Danger: Books!" program to Seattle Public Library branches

At the University of Washington and in the epicenter of the U District is the truly superb University Bookstore (let the record reflect that I am actually promoting the University of Washington…ahem.) Its author events that overlap with NACAC follow:

Thursday, September 25 at 7 pm

David Arnold
The Fishermen's Frontier: People and Salmon in Southeast Alaska
Discussion & Book Signing

Friday, September 26 at 7 pm

Anne Crossman
Getting the Best Out of College
Discussion & Book Signing

Just northwest of town in Lake Forest Park is highly respected Third Place Books. The following author events overlap with NACAC. Third Place has a second store in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood (adjacent to the U District), but its events for September aren’t posted yet. Events at the Lake Forest Park store, that overlap with the NACAC conference are listed below:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
Maggot in My Sweet Potatoes by Susan Madden Lankford

Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet

Friday, September 26, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.
My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath

Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.
Look Me in the Eye by John Robison

Enough about bookstores. I started this blog to highlight some local authors of particular note.

Among them is Sherman Alexie who is one of the NACAC conference keynote speakers. He is perhaps best known for The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, his debut collection of stories that won the PEN/Hemingway Award in 1993. Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, graduated from Washington State and relocated to Seattle. A prolific writer of short stories, novels and poetry, Alexie is also a renowned stand-up performer who held the World Heavyweight Poetry Championship from 1998 to 2001. Alexie was named in 1996 by Granta magazine as one of the 20 Best Young American Novelists, as well as one of 20 Writers for the 21st Century by the New Yorker. He branched out into films with "Smoke Signals" and "The Business of Fancydancing." He is also a dedicated basketball player and Seattle Sonics season-ticket holder.

Gary Atkins

He is best known for Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging which examines the struggle by gays and lesbians in Seattle to claim their full rights of communication and citizenship despite political and religious discrimination, which won the Washington State Book Award and was recognized as Jesuit Book of the Year. Currently Atkins is writing a book examining the freedom of communication struggles of gay men in Southeast Asia, tentatively titled Islands of the Morning. Prior to coming to Seattle, he worked as an investigative and literary journalist and ditor for the Riverside Press-Enterprise in California where he often wrote about social and environmental justice issues. He teaches journalism and communication at Seattle University.

Rebecca Brown

She is best known for The Gifts of the Body, a haunting novel about an AIDS caregiver published in 1994 that went on to win a Lambda Award. A resident of Seattle, Brown was the first writer in residence at Richard Hugo House and has taught writing often at that literary center on Capitol Hill. She now directs the literature program at the Centrum Foundation in Port Townsend, including its popular summer writers conference. Brown's wide-ranging work has probed such little-explored literary territory as a dance opera, a quasi-dictionary and a collaboration with a visual artist. Brown's writing is known for its spare language and powerful imagery.

Charles Cross

Best known for Heavier Than Heaven, a biography of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain that won the ASCAP Timothy White Award for outstanding biography in 2002. A Seattle resident, Cross rose to local journalistic prominence as editor of the much-praised alternative-music magazine The Rocket, which he headed for 14 years. He is also a recognized authority on Bruce Springsteen who has published freelance articles in such major publications as Rolling Stone, Esquire, Playboy and Spin. Cross followed his Cobain biography with one of another Northwest icon, Jimi Hendrix, and is at work on another, of Bruce Lee.

Pete Dexter

He is best known for Paris Trout, winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 1988. Dexter, a resident of Whidbey Island, worked as a much-heralded newspaper columnist in Philadelphia and Sacramento while also branching into writing novels and screenplays. His syndicated column ran for three years in the P-I. A 1991 TV film version of "Paris Trout" starred Dennis Hopper and Ed Harris. Dexter's work is known for its gritty detail and its mix of mordant wit and raw violence.

Ivan Doig

He is best known for This House of Sky, his 1980 debut that is regarded as a classic Western memoir about growing up on a ranch in Montana; it was a finalist for the National Book Award. Doig's background includes stints as a ranch hand, a newspaperman and a magazine editor. He has a doctorate in history from the University of Washington. Although a resident of Seattle for four decades, Doig often is thought of as a Montana writer since so many of his novels and memoirs are set under the Big Sky. His work is known for its humanity and its attention to historic detail. When the San Francisco Chronicle took a poll to name the West's best books of fiction and non-fiction in 1999, Doig was the only writer to make both lists.

Timothy Egan

He is best known for The Worst Hard Time, his riveting account of the Dust Bowl that won last year's National Book Award in non-fiction. Egan's early reputation was built largely upon The Good Rain, his 1990 debut that has long been regarded as one of the pivotal accounts of the present-day Northwest. A onetime reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Egan moved on to The New York Times, where he long has been a national reporter based in Seattle and shared in the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for a series on race in America. Egan is an unrepentant Northwest chauvinist with a passion for the region's outdoor pursuits, muscular cabernets and sports teams (Mariners, Huskies).

Ellen Forney

She is best known for I Love Led Zeppelin: Panty Dropping Comics, a 2006 collection of graphic work published by Fantagraphics Books, the Seattle-based publisher in the forefront of the sudden rise to prominence of the graphic novel. A resident of Seattle since 1989, Forney has had her cartoons and illustrations published in the Stranger, L.A. Weekly and BUST magazine. "I Love Led Zeppelin" featured an introduction by Sherman Alexie; the two are now collaborating on an upcoming book. Forney teaches comics at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts.

David Guterson

He is best known for Snow Falling on Cedars, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction in 1994; a high-profile film version was released in 1998. A former high school English teacher, he is a longtime resident of Bainbridge Island. Guterson has written a collection of short stories, a non-fiction book on home-schooling and four novels, all set in the Northwest with many evocative descriptions of the region's varied landscapes. Named in 1996 by Granta magazine as one of 20 Best Young American Novelists. His mentor at the University of Washington was Charles Johnson. His most recent book is The Other, which is a superb read.

Charles Johnson

He is best known for Middle Passage, winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 1990. Started his career as a cartoonist who satirized race relations. A longtime resident of Seattle, Johnson holds an endowed chair in creative writing at the University of Washington. A prolific writer of short stories, essays, screenplays and novels, including a richly imagined look at the last two years of crisis in the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Dreamer). Johnson is a recipient of a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation, as well as an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Eric Liu

He is best known for The Accidental Asian, where explores identity, in particular, the meaning of his own American and Asian American identity. Liu served as a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the president's deputy domestic policy adviser. Liu is co-founder of The True Patriot Network, a political action tank framed upon the ideas he and Nick Hanauer presented in their 2007 book, The True Patriot.

He writes the 'Teachings' column for Slate magazine and is also author of Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose in about transformative mentors, leaders and teachers. Guiding Lights is the Official Book of National Mentoring Month and has led to the creation of a broad civic campaign to highlight mentorship in all walks of life. Liu teaches at the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs.

Lydia Minatoya

She is perhaps best known for Talking to High Monks in the Snow her autobiographical account that explores an Asian American woman’s search for identity, culture and belonging. Talking to High Monks won the 1991 PEN/Jerard Fund Award Her most recent book is The Strangeness of Beauty --a novel of three generations of women who reunite on the brink of World War II. A native of Albany, N.Y. Minatoya is a long time resident of Seattle and is a counselor at North Seattle Community College.

Jonathan Raban

He is best known for Bad Land: An American Romance, winner of the National Book Critics Award for non-fiction in 1996. A native of England, Raban has lived in Seattle since 1990. Much of his early reputation was based upon a series of first-person travel books that helped fuel the remarkable resurgence in the popularity of that genre of literary non-fiction. A frequent commentator on American affairs in British and American publications. Known for his incisive wit and his perennial outsider persona in his writings. An avid sailor who chronicled his voyage to Alaska in Passage to Juneau. After two decades devoted to non-fiction, he returned to the novel in 2003 with Waxwings, a portrait of Seattle in the dot-com era. His most recent book is Surveillance, another Seattle-set novel.

Tom Robbins

Best known for Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, his 1976 classic that became a 1993 film by director Gus Van Sant. A native of Blowing Rock, N.C., Robbins has lived in nearby La Conner since 1970 on April Fool's Day. He is a denizen of the best-seller lists, with his past seven books in a row achieving that level of popularity. His works have been translated into 22 foreign languages, most recently Lithuanian. Named among "100 Best Writers of the 20th Century" by Writer's Digest magazine. He pent four years early in his career as a fill-in copy editor at the Seattle P-I.

Ann Rule

She is best known for The Stranger Beside Me, her chilling 1980 book that recounted working in the Seattle Crisis Clinic with a personable young man who turned out to be Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer. A longtime Seattle resident, Rule worked for the Seattle Police Department before turning full time to writing in 1969. Has had 20 books on The New York Times best-seller list on her way to becoming one of the country's most popular and prolific writers on true crime. Rule won a Peabody Award for TV miniseries (Small Sacrifices) based on one of her books. Took an exhaustive look at the Green River murders by Gary Ridgway in Green River, Running Red.

Dan Savage

He is best known Savage is best known for penning the internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column Savage Love featured in Seattle’s provocative alternative newspaper The Stranger, for which he also serves as editor. He is author of Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist a collection of letters from his column. The Kid relating how he and his boyfriend adopted a baby boy through open adoption, Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America which describes his exploration of the seven deadly sins (a satiric reference to Robert Bork's book Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline.), The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family (a memoir of his life, relationship and family and a commentary on the gay marriage debate. Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me. An author, media pundit, journalist and newspaper editor Savage is a Seattle icon and is often been the subject of controversy regarding his opinions that pointedly clash with both traditional conservative moral values and those put forth by what Savage calls the "gay establishment."
I am just scratching the surface with this ecclectic list of Seattle writers. However, if you are a person of letters, you will be in good company when you join us in Seattle for the NACAC conference.

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University

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