Literopolis: A Weekly Look at Portland Literary Events, March 16-22
Monday, March 16, 2015
Unbeknownst to probably most people, March is officially known as Small Press Month. On Monday, Powell’s City of Books is celebrating with Smallpresspalooza, their eighth annual marathon reading of small press authors. Check out Powell’s Events calendar for the full round-up and schedule of author readings. 1005 W Burnside St., 6pm, FREE
On Tuesday, Dennis Lehane will be reading from his newest novel, a mystery titled Worlds Gone By, which follows the bloody rise of the mob in the middle of World War Two, at Powell’s at Cedar Hills. 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., 7pm, FREE
Also on Tuesday, Paul Beatty will be at Powell’s City of Books reading from his new novel satirizing social and legal race relations in the United States titled The Sellout. 1005 W Burnside St., 7:30pm, FREE
On Wednesday, steampunk author Gail Carriger will be at Powell’s at Cedar Hills with her newest novel Prudence, set in the same world as her Parasol Protectorate series about a young woman who, upon arriving in India via dirigible, stumbles upon a plot of nefarious and supernatural proportions. 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., 7pm, FREE
Also on Wednesday, acclaimed poet Jane Hirshfield will be at Powell’s City of Books reading from her newest collection titled The Beauty containing poems that use familiar, every-day items and concepts to touch upon the capriciousness of human existence. 1005 W Burnside St., 7:30pm, FREE
First on Thursday, Another Read Through will be hosting local author R J Samuel, who will be sharing her latest novel A Place Somewhere about a woman named Alex Hart who, after deceived about the identity of her online girlfriend for whom she moved to Ireland, gives herself the mission of exposing online predators and deceivers to prevent others from being deceived as she was. 3932 N Mississippi Ave., 7-8pm, FREE
Next on Thursday, Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell, founders of the popular online community Another Mother Runner, will be at Broadway Books reading from Tales from Another Mother Runner, their latest book telling the shared stories of two women who use running as a means for self-growth and personal achievement in all other aspects of life. 1714 NE Broadway Ave., 7-8pm, FREE
On Thursday, Powell’s at Cedar Hills is hosting local George Byron Wright on Thursday, and he will be reading from his novel In the Wake of Our Misdeeds in which a man emerging from a submerged car after an accident leaves behind is head wife and sheds his past to search for his child whom he’s never seen. 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., 7pm, FREE
David Vann, author of the best-selling debut Legend of a Suicide, will be at Powell’s City of Books on Thursday reading from his newest book Aquarium about a young girl named Caitlin whose budding relationship with an old man who shares her fascination with fish at the local aquarium causes her to unearth a dark family secret that sends her relationship with her mother to spin out of control. 1005 W Burnside St., 7:30pm, FREE
Finally on Thursday, Powell’s on Hawthorne presents Smith Henderson and his debut novel Fourth of July, one that explores the contradictions behind commonly-held American values through a social worker named Pete Snow who attempts to befriend the survivalist father of a boy he found living in the wilderness, with devastating consequences. 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 7:30pm, FREE
On Friday, Sarah Manguso will be at Powell’s City of Books reading from her third book of memoir-in-essays titled Ongoingness, which uses the meticulous diary she kept for 25 years as a starting point to talk about how she developed amnesia following giving birth to her child. 1005 W Burnside St., 7:30pm, FREE
Also on Saturday, In Other Words will be hosting speculative fiction author Ferrett Steinmetz as he discusses his debut novel Flex about a bureaucromancer (someone who has magical abilities concerning paperwork) who begins brewing a magical, highly addictive drug called Flex in order to heal his badly burned daughter. 14 NE Killingsworth St., 4-6pm, FREE
On Sunday, Powell’s on Hawthorne will be host to a presentation and reading from a poetry collection by eight Afghan female poets and translated into English titled Load Poems Like Guns: Woman’s Poetry from Heart, Afghanistan. Present will be Afghan poet Somaya Ramesh and American poet/translator Farzana Marie.
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 4pm, FREE
Later on Sunday at Powell’s City of Books, Sy Safransky, founder of the 40-year-old magazine The Sun, will be reading from his book Many Alarm Clocks, a collection of excerpts taken from his personal journal that have traditionally been published in a magazine section titled “Sy Safransky’s Notebook.” 1005 W Burnside St., 7:30pm, FREE
Related Slideshow: 50 Books Set in Oregon
See 50 books set in Oregon in a mix of genres and time periods.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
A love letter to Oregon and the Pacific Coast, Wild is the new quintessential Oregonian novel.
"At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her."
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Who knew that the Heathman Hotel in Portland was privy to the bedroom shenanigans of the country's favorite erotica couple?
"When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires."
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Not only is the book set in Oregon, but the movie was filmed at the Oregon State Hosptial in Salem.
"In this classic of the 1960s, Ken Kesey's hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, back by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story's shocking climax."
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
Set in an alternate version of Portland in 2002 in which there is continuous rain, The Lathe of Heaven is an exploration of an individual's ability to have a direct outcome on the shape of reality.
"In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
Some would say Ken Kesey's second novel, which takes place in the fictional logging town of Wakonda, is an even better-written book than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
"A bitter strike is raging in a small lumber town along the Oregon coast. Bucking that strike out of sheer cussedness are the Stampers: Henry, the fiercely vital and overpowering patriarch; Hank, the son who has spent his life trying to live up to his father; and Viv, who fell in love with Hank's exuberant machismo but now finds it wearing thin. And then there is Leland, Henry's bookish younger son, who returns to his family on a mission of vengeance - and finds himself fulfilling it in ways he never imagined. Out of the Stamper family's rivalries and betrayals Ken Kesey has crafted a novel with the mythic impact of Greek tragedy."
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
"Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset. As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same."
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller
This book is largely set at Reed College in Portland and was turned into a movie in 2012.
"I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. I used to not like God because God didn't resolve. But that was before any of this happened." ―Donald Miller
In Donald Miller's early years, he was vaguely familiar with a distant God. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he pursued the Christian life with great zeal. Within a few years he had a successful ministry that ultimately left him feeling empty, burned out, and, once again, far away from God. In this intimate, soul-searching account, Miller describes his remarkable journey back to a culturally relevant, infinitely loving God."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Schafer
This Portland-set novel written by Portland-residing author David Schafer was considered to be both a critical and commercial success in 2014.
"The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee.
Leo and Mark were best friends in college, but early adulthood has set them on diverging paths. Growing increasingly disdainful of Mark's platitudes, Leo publishes a withering takedown of his ideas online. But the Committee is reading--and erasing--Leo's words. On the other side of the world, Leila's discoveries about the Committee's far-reaching ambitions threaten to ruin those who are closest to her."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
The first of a series of children's novels featuring a beloved cast of characters living on the author's childhood neighborhood alongside Klickitat Street.
"In the first novel from Newbery Award-winning author Beverly Cleary, boys and girls alike will instantly be charmed by an average boy whose life is turned upside down when he meets a lovable puppy with a nose for mischief.
Just as Henry Huggins is complaining that nothing exciting ever happens, a friendly dog sits down beside him and looks pleadingly at his ice-cream cone. From that moment on, the two are inseparable. But when Ribsy's original owner appears, trying to reclaim his dog, Henry's faced with the possibility of losing his new best friend. Has Klickitat Street seen the last of rambunctious Ribsy?"
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
They first appeared in Henry Huggins - this was the first book starring Henry's neigbhors Beezus and her little sister Ramona Quimby.
"Having a little sister like four-year-old Ramona isn't always easy for Beezus Quimby. With a wild imagination, disregard for order, and an appetite for chaos, Ramona makes it hard for Beezus to be the responsible older sister she knows she ought to be…especially when Ramona threatens to ruin Beezus's birthday party. Newbery Medal winner Beverly Cleary delivers a humorous tale of the ups and downs of sisterhood. Both the younger and older siblings of the family will enjoy this book."
The Postman by David Brin
A travelogue across the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Corvallis and Southern Oregon.
"This is the story of a lie that became the most powerful kind of truth. A timeless novel as urgently compelling as War Day or Alas, Babylon, David Brin's The Postman is the dramatically moving saga of a man who rekindled the spirit of America through the power of a dream, from a modern master of science fiction. He was a survivor--a wanderer who traded tales for food and shelter in the dark and savage aftermath of a devastating war. Fate touches him one chill winter's day when he borrows the jacket of a long-dead postal worker to protect himself from the cold. The old, worn uniform still has power as a symbol of hope, and with it he begins to weave his greatest tale, of a nation on the road to recovery."
Hard Falling Rain by Don Carpenter
"Don Carpenter’s Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary conﬁnement. In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class—married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end."
Trask by Don Berry
"Set in 1848 on the wild edge of the continent, in the rainforests and rugged headlands of the Oregon coast, Trask follows a mountain man's quest for new opportunities and new land to settle. Elbridge Trask is a restless man, a gambler with God, nature, and life itself. Yearning for change, he sets out with Wakila, a young Clatsop Indian, and Charley Kehwa, a tamanawis man or spiritual leader of the tribe, on an extraordinary journey of discovery."
Winterkill by Craig Lesley
"From the two-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award: a deeply moving and evocative novel of fathers and sons. Danny Kachiah is a Native American fighting not to become a casualty. His father, Red Shirt, is dead; his wife, Loxie, has left him, and his career as a rodeo cowboy is flagging. But when Loxie dies in a car wreck, leaving him with his son, Jack, whom he hardly knows, Danny uses the magnificent stories of Red Shirt to guide him toward true fatherhood. Together, Danny and Jack begin to make a life from the dreams of yesterday and the ruins of today's northwestern reservations. "
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Recently released as a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, If I Stay is one of the most highly regarded YA novels released in the past few years.
"In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family...."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
The Jump-off Creek by Molly Gloss
"A reading group favorite, The Jump-Off Creek is the unforgettable story of widowed homesteader Lydia Sanderson and her struggles to settle in the mountains of Oregon in the 1890s. “Every gritty line of the story rings true” (Seattle Times) as Molly Gloss delivers an authentic and moving portrait of the American West. “A powerful novel of struggle and loss” (Dallas Morning News), The Jump-Off Creek gives readers an intimate look at the hardships of frontier life and a courageous woman determined to survive."
Searoad by Ursula K. Le Guin
"In one of her most deeply felt works of fiction, Le Guin explores the dreams and sorrows of the inhabitants of Klatsand, Oregon, a beach town where ordinary people bring their dreams and sorrows for a weekend or the rest of their lives, and sometimes learn to read what the sea writes on the sand. Searoad is the story of a particular place that could be any place, and of a people so distinctly drawn they could be any of us."
Wildwood by Colin Meloy
"For fans of The Chronicles of Narnia comes the first book in the Wildwood Chronicles, the New York Times bestselling fantasy adventure series by Colin Meloy, lead singer of the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of The Mysterious Benedict Society.
In Wildwood, Prue and her friend Curtis uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss
"In the winter of 1917, nineteen-year-old Martha Lessen saddles her horses and heads for a remote county in eastern Oregon, looking for work “gentling” wild horses. She chances on a rancher, George Bliss, who is willing to hire her on. Many of his regular hands are off fighting the war, and he glimpses, beneath her showy rodeo garb, a shy but strong-willed girl with a serious knowledge of horses. So begins the irresistible tale of a young but determined woman trying to make a go of it in a man’s world. Over the course of several long, hard winter months, many of the townsfolk witness Martha talking in low, sweet tones to horses believed beyond repair—getting miraculous, almost immediate results. It's with this gift that she earns their respect, and a chance to make herself a home."
The River Why by James Duncan
"This captivating and exuberant tale is told by Gus Orviston, an irreverent young fly fisherman and one of the most appealing heroes in contemporary American fiction. Leaving behind a madcap, fishing-obsessed family, Gus decides to strike out on his own, taking refuge in a remote riverbank cabin to pursue his own fly-fishing passion with unrelenting zeal. But instead of finding fishing bliss, Gus becomes increasingly troubled by the degradation of the natural world around him and by the spiritual barrenness of his own life. His desolation drives him on a reluctant quest for self-discovery and meaning—ultimately fruitful beyond his wildest dreams. Stylistically adept and ambitious in scope, The River Why is a touching and powerful novel by an important voice in American fiction."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
Forgive Me If I've Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters
"Shy, intellectual, and living in rural Oregon, Triinu Hoffman just doesn’t fit in. She does her best to hide behind her dyed hair and black wardrobe, but it’s hard to ignore the bullying of Pip Weston and Principal Pinn. It’s even harder to ignore the allure of other girls. As Triinu tumbles headlong into first love and teenage independence, she realizes that the differences that make her a target are also the differences that can set her free. With everyone in town taking sides in the battle for equal rights in Oregon, Triinu must stand up for herself, learn what it is to love and have her heart broken, and become her own woman."
Mink River by Brian Doyle
"In a small fictional town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter. There's a Department of Public Works that gives haircuts and counts insects, a policeman addicted to Puccini, a philosophizing crow, beer and berries. An expedition is mounted, a crime committed, and there's an unbelievably huge picnic on the football field. Babies are born. A car is cut in half with a saw. A river confesses what it's thinking. . . It's the tale of a town, written in a distinct and lyrical voice, and readers will close the book more than a little sad to leave the village of Neawanaka, on the wet coast of Oregon, beneath the hills that used to boast the biggest trees in the history of the world."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
Down in My Heart: Peace Witness in War Time by Willam Stafford
"From 1942 to 1946, William Stafford was interned in camps for conscientious objectors after refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army. As a pacifist, he worked on conservation projects for Civilian Public Service, an alternative program for young men who refused to participate in World War II. As a writer, he recorded the life he found there: the fellowship within the camps and the antagonism outside them.
Down in My Heart tells the story of how a wartime draft created a community for peace. It recounts life in the camps: the men’s day-to-day activities—fighting forest fires, building trails and roads, restoring eroded lands—and their earnest pursuit of a social ethic rooted in religious and secular pacifist ideals."
Synopsis: Oregon State University Press (edited for length)
My Abandonment by Peter Rock
"A thirteen-year-old girl and her father live in Forest Park, an enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. They inhabit an elaborate cave shelter, wash in a nearby creek, store perishables at the water’s edge, use a makeshift septic system, tend a garden, even keep a library of sorts. Once a week they go to the city to buy groceries and otherwise merge with the civilized world. But one small mistake allows a backcountry jogger to discover them, which derails their entire existence, ultimately provoking a deeper flight.
Inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of its young narrator, Caroline, My Abandonment is a riveting journey into life at the margins and a mesmerizing tale of survival and hope."
Gone, But Not Forgotten by Phillip Margolin
"Darkness has fallen on the city of Portland, Oregon. One by one, the wives of affluent and respected men are vanishing from their homes. The only clues to their disappearance are a single black rose and a note that reads, "Gone, But Not Forgotten." It is the rebirth of a horror that has already devastated a community at the opposite end of the country—and, as it did then, terror and death will follow.
Defense attorney Betsy Tannenbaum is trapped in a nightmare as the shadows of a killer darken her world. And she will soon be risking everything she has and everyone she loves to defend a cold, powerful, and manipulating client who may be a victim . . . or a monster."
Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
First in the Emberverse Series of post-apocalypic alternate history novels set in the Willamette Valley.
"The Change occurred when an electrical storm centered over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash that rendered all electronic devices and fuels inoperable. What follows is the most terrible global catastrophe in the history of the human race-and a Dark Age more universal and complete than could possibly be imagined."
Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
"Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and brutal serial killer. In the end, she was the one who caught him…and tortured him…and then let him go. Why did Gretchen spare Archie’s life and then turn herself in? This is the question that keeps him up all night—and the reason why he has visited Gretchen in prison every week since.
Meanwhile, another series of murders is tearing up the Portland streets. Archie seems to be getting closer to solving this high-profile case…until he finds himself in a fatal collision course with the killer—one that inevitably leads him back to his former captor. Gretchen may be the only one who can help do justice. The only thing she can’t do, this time, is save Archie’s life."
Blue Thread by Ruth Tenzer Feldman
"The women’s suffrage movement is in full swing in 1912 Portland, Oregon—the last holdout state on the West Coast. Miriam desperately wants to work at her father’s printing shop, but when he refuses she decides to dedicate herself to the suffrage movement, demanding rights for women and a different life for herself. Amidst the uncertainty of her future, Miriam’s attention is diverted by the mysterious Serakh, whose sudden, unexplained appearances and insistent questions lead Miriam to her grandmother’s Jewish prayer shawl—and to her destiny. With this shawl, Miriam is taken back in time to inspire the Daughters of Zelophehad, the first women in Biblical history to own land. Miriam brings the strength and courage of these women with her forward in time, emboldening her own struggles and illuminating what it means to be an independent woman."
So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away by Richard Brautigan
""So the Wind Won't Blow it all Away" is a beautifully-written, brooding gem of a novel - set in the Pacific Northwest region of Oregon where Brautigan spent most of his childhood. Through the eyes, ears and voice of Brautigan's youthful protagonist the reader is gently led into a small-town tale where the narrator accidentally shoots dead his best friend with a gun. The novel deals with the repercussions of this tragedy and its recurring theme of 'What if...' fuels anguish, regret and self-blame as well as some darkly comic passages of bitter-sweet romance and despair."
Synopsis: Goodreads (edited for length and clarity)
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha
After the Stanely family moves to the Oregon desert, their fifteen-year-old son Shep is shot and killed during a robbery in their home. His mother Irene awaits her son's murderer's execution so she can finally have the catharsis and closure she desires, yet decides to reach out to him as the time drags on. Irene's relationship to Daniel Robbins will be put to the test when the notice annoucing his execuation date finally arrives.
Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks
This is the first novel in the Genesis of Shannara trilogy, set in Terry Brook's Shannara universe, identified as having used to be Earth prior to a catastrophic chemical and nuclear holocaust.
Armageddon's Children is set during the Great Wars in a newly apocalypic Earth. In largest Elven city in the world hidden in the Oregon Woods, two elves are charged with locating an important elfstone that will further secure their home from demons and the surrounding chaos.
I Loved You More by Tom Spanbauer
"Tom Spanbauer’s first novel in seven years is a love story triangle akin to The Marriage Plot andFreedom, only with a gay main character who charms gays and straights alike. I Loved You More is a rich, expansive tale of love, sex, and heartbreak, covering twenty-five years in the life of a striving, emotionally wounded writer. In New York, Ben forms a bond of love with his macho friend and foil, Hank. Years later in Portland, a now ill Ben falls for Ruth, who provides the care and devotion he needs, though they cannot find true happiness together. Then Hank reappears and meets Ruth, and real trouble starts. Set against a world of struggling artists, the underground sex scene of New York in the 1980s, the drab, confining Idaho of Ben’s youth, and many places in between, I Loved You More is the author’s most complex and wise novel to date."
Honey in the Horn by H.L. Davis
"Set in Oregon in the early years of the twentieth century, H. L. Davis’s Honey in the Horn chronicles the struggles faced by homesteaders as they attempted to settle down and eke out subsistence from a still-wild land. With sly humor and keenly observed detail, Davis pays homage to the indomitable character of Oregon’s restless people and dramatic landscapes without romanticizing or burnishing the myths.... An essential book for all serious readers of Northwest literature, this classic coming-of-age novel has been called the “Huckleberry Finn of the West.” It is the only Oregon book that has ever won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. With a new introduction by Richard W. Etulain, this important work from one of Oregon’s premier authors is once again available for a new generation to enjoy."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
Children of the River by Linda Crew
"Sundara fled Cambodia with her aunt's family to escape the Khmer Rouge army when she was thirteen, leaving behind her parents, her brother and sister, and the boy she had loved since she was a child. Now, four years later, she struggles to fit in at her Oregon high school and to be "a good Cambodian girl" at home. A good Cambodian girl never dates; she waits for her family to arrange her marriage to a Cambodian boy. Yet Sundara and Jonathan, an extraordinary American boy, are powerfully drawn to each other. Haunted by grief for her lost family and for the life left behind, Sundara longs to be with him. At the same time she wonders, Are her hopes for happiness and new life in America disloyal to her past and her people?"
Night Dogs by Kent Anderson
"The North Precinct of Portland, Oregon, is home to two kinds of cops: sergeants and lieutenants who've screwed up somewhere else, and patrolmen who thrive on the action on the Avenue. Officer Hanson is the second kind, a veteran who has traded his Bronze Star for a badge. War is what Hanson knows, and in this battle for Portland's meanest streets, he's fighting not so much for the law as for his own code of justice."
Ricochet River by Robin Cody
"Set in a fictional Oregon town in the late 1960s, Cody's superlative coming-of-age novel is the story of Wade, Lorna and Jesse--teenagers preparing to break out of their small-town lives. Wade is the local sports hero. Jesse is his friend, a mythical athlete and the Indian kid who applies his own rules to sports and life. And Lorna is Wade's sweetheart who knows there's no hope in Calamus for a bright, independent girl. The river rushes past the town, linking the three friends with their pasts, their plans and the world beyond. This new edition from the author addresses issues of graphic language and sex that thwarted the book's use in high schools."
Winger by Andrew Smith
"Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.
Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications with the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
The Quick and the Thread by Amanda Lee
First in a series of cozy mysteries.
"When Marcy Singer opens an embroidery specialty shop in quaint Tallulah Falls, Oregon, she throws a soiree and a Stitch-In. Soon, Marcy's sign- up sheet for embroidery classes fills up and everyone in town seems willing to raise a glass-or a needle-to support the newly-opened Seven Year Stitch. Then Marcy finds the shop's previous tenant dead in the store-room, a message scratched with a tapestry needle on the wall beside him. Now Marcy's shop has become a crime scene, and she's the prime suspect. She'll have to find the killer before someone puts a final stitch in her."
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
"Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy. Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications with the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart."
The Motel Life: A Novel
"With "echoes of Of Mice and Men" (The Bookseller, UK), The Motel Life explores the frustrations and failed dreams of two Nevada brothers — on the run after a hit-and-run accident — who, forgotten by society, and short on luck and hope, desperately cling to the edge of modern life."
The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western by Richard Brautigan
"The time is 1902, the setting eastern Oregon. Magic Child, a fifteen-year-old Indian girl, wanders into the wrong whorehouse looking for the right men to kill the monster that lives in the ice caves under the basement of Miss Hawkline's yellow house. What follows is a series of wild, witty, and bizarre encounters."
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
"Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy after a fateful morning on their Chicago rooftop. Forced to move to a new city, with her strict African American grandmother as her guardian, Rachel is thrust for the first time into a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of attention her way. It’s there, as she grows up and tries to swallow her grief, that she comes to understand how the mystery and tragedy of her mother might be connected to her own uncertain identity. This searing and heartwrenching portrait of a young biracial girl dealing with society’s ideas of race and class is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice."
Girl by Blake Nelson
"Welcome to the world of Portland teenager Andrea Marr, the bold, sexy, shy, often confused but always resilient heroine of Girl. Told in a voice that reads like the intimate diary of a young woman about to take life on full throttle, this wonderful debut novel chronicles Andrea's jittery journey from suburban mall to Portland's thriving underground rock scene - and back again, as she discovers sex, betrayal, and even love. A Catcher in the Rye for the "Grunge" generation, this instant classic will speak to anyone who has ever had to choose between the suffocation of conformity and the perils of rebellion."
Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk
"Using magic means it uses you back, and every spell exacts a price from its user. But some people get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent. Then it’s Allison Beckstrom’s job to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune—and the strings that come with it. But when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into his world of black magic. And the forces she calls on in her quest for the truth will make her capable of things that some will do anything to control..."
A Sweetness to the Soul by Jane Kirkpatrick
"Based on historical characters and events, A Sweetness to the Soul recounts the captivating story of young, spirited Oregon pioneer Jane Herbert who at the age of twelve faces a tragedy that begins a life-long search for forgiveness and love. In the years that follow, young Jane finds herself involved in an unusual and touching romance with a dreamer sixteen years her senior, struggles to make peace with an emotionally distant mother, and fights to build a family of her own. Filled with heart-warming insight and glimpses of real-life pain, A Sweetness to the Soul paints a brilliant picture of love that conquers all obstacles and offers a powerful testimony to the miracle of God's healing power."
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
Not technically set in Oregon, but Jean M. Auel's Children of the Earth series is so well-known and Oregon-esque in its loving, detailed descriptions of the natural world and the animals and people that populate it, we decided to include it anyway.
"A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly--she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
Little Century by Anna Keesey
"Orphaned after the death of her mother, eighteen-year-old Esther Chambers heads west in search of her only living relative. In the lawless town of Century, Oregon, she’s met by her distant cousin—a cattle rancher named Ferris Pickett. There, she begins a new life as a homesteader, in the hope that her land will one day join Pick’s impressive spread. But Century is in the midst of an escalating and violent war over water and rangeland. As incidents between the sheep and cattle ranchers turn to bloodshed, Esther’s sympathies are divided between her cousin and a sheepherder named Ben Cruff, sworn enemy of the cattlemen. Torn between her growing passion for Ben and her love of the austere land, she begins to realize that she can’t be loyal to both."
The Drylands by Mary Rosenblum
"After years without rain, disaster lay ahead for the Pacific Northwest—unless the strange talents born of the drought could stop it. Drought had come to the 21st century, and the land way dying. Crops failed, refugee camps over-flowed, and riots raged across the country—and the Army Corps of Engineers had the dirty job of rationing what little water was left.
Carter Voltaire, a Corps officer in charge of the Columbia Riverbed Pipeline, had orders to stop a group of desperate farmers sabotaging the Pipe—at any cost. Nita Montoya, a Drylands woman burdened with a strange mental talent, knew the farmers were being framed. She could help Carter expose the real saboteurs—but only by exposing her own abnormal ability.... "
Synopsis: Goodreads (edited for length)
Hole in the Sky: A Memoir by William Kittredge
"William Kittredge's stunning memoir is at once autobiography, a family chronicle, and a Westerner's settling of accounts with the land he grew up in. This is the story of a grandfather whose single-minded hunger for property won him a ranch the size of Delaware but estranged him from his family; of a father who farmed with tractors and drainage ditches but consorted with movie stars; and of Kittredge himself, who was raised by cowboys and saw them become obsolete, who floundered through three marriages, hard drinking, and madness before becoming a writer. Host hauntingly, Hole in the Sky is an honest reckoning of the American myth that drove generations of Americans westward -- and what became of their dream after they reached the edge."
Synopsis - Amazon.com
Jokerman 8 by Richard Melo
"A west coast posse of forest radicals based out of San Francisco State University, Jokerman engages in a wild array of pranks -- they sink whaling ships at harbor in Iceland, skydive into the winter forest of British Columbia on a bend to save a pack of wolves from a government-sponsored slaughter, and stage a Tree-In in a southern Oregon old-growth forest where it is believed the first pine trees evolved. Jokerman spikes trees, jerryrigs tractors, spoils traps, and conserves enough energy to laugh and drink beer at the end of the day. In numerous subplots encompassing both present and past, a young husband flees San Francisco for Portland during the Draft, another young husband sets himself on fire in front of what he thinks is Robert MacNamara’s office in the Pentagon, and the Yippies succeed in levitating the Pentagon, inspiring the Jokerman Eight to respond by building a pyramid next to the Pentagon."
Synopsis: Amazon.com (edited for length)
- Literopolis: A Weekly Look at Portland Literary Events, March 9-15
- Literopolis: A Weekly Look at Portland Literary Events, March 2-8
- Literopolis: A Weekly Look at Portland Literary Events, Feb. 23-March 1