Monday, October 25, 2010

Ingrid Betancourt Details Her Six Years as a FARC Prisoner and Her Freedom in Even Silence Has an End

Ingrid Betancourt will be at Town Hall tonight to speak about her latest memoir Even Silence Has an End at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

Many may remember Ingrid Betancourt's risky and dramatic rescue by the Colombian army back in 2008 after her six and a half years of captivity with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Regarded as one of the most well-known political hostages of all time, Betancourt details her astonishing struggle to survive 2,321 days of captivity in the Colombian jungles in her latest tell-all memoir, Even Silence Has an End. Chilling, surreal and at times devastatingly heartbreaking, Betancourt's journey is nothing short of extraordinary. Reading more like fiction, the memoir is being haled as "a classic of Colombian history and literature"; and it's most definitely one story that will keep you up late with its nail-biting and emotional accounts of survival.

Early on in Silence, we meet then-Colombian senator Betancourt as she is on the presidential campaign trail in February 2002. Her father has fallen ill and she is apprehensive about leaving his bedside to travel to the northern town of San Vicente del Caguan, where then-President Andres Pastrana had just ordered that a FARC safe haven be dismantled after failed peace negotiations. The military refuses to give Betancourt armed military escorts yet she insists on completing the trip with her then-campaign manager and later fellow captive, Clara Rojas, and two journalists. Thirty miles into the trip, the group is abducted at gun point.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dinaw Mengestu Explores Immigration, Family Relationships and Identity in How to Read the Air

Dinaw Mengestu will be reading from his latest novel How to Read the Air tonight at the Seattle Central Library at 7 p.m. This event is free.

We will be the first to admit that we did not read Dinaw Mengestu's highly-acclaimed debut novel, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears. However, with having just finished his second novel, How to Read the Air, we're also very happy that we hadn't.Those who have read both, seem to generally have one of two views: that either the second novel was a great follow-up to the first; or that it wasn't as good in comparison. And really, second novels are tough--especially when they are following shortly after a debut such as Beautiful Things, which was named as a New York times Notable Book for 2007; won the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 award; The Guardian First Book Prize and locally, was named as the 2008 selection of the community reading program, Seattle Reads.

How to Read the Air embraces the immigrant experience spanning two generations--that of a young Ethiopian couple as they embark on a fateful cross-country journey and that of their son Jonas', as he retraces his parents' tragic road trip three decades later in the midst of his own dissolving marriage. In the beginning of Air, Mengestu writes:
"They called the trip a vacation, but only because neither of them was comfortable with the word 'honeymoon,' which in its marrying of two completely separate words, each of which they understood on its own, seemed to imply when joined together a lavishness that neither was prepared to accept. They were not newlyweds, but their three years apart had made them strangers. They spoke to each other in whispers, half in Amharic, half in English, as if any one word uttered too loudly could reveal to both of them that, in fact, they had never understood each other; they had never really known who the other person was at all."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hugo House Hosts The Novel: Live!, Literally

"Underwood" compliments of Flickr's poopoorama
Hugo House and Seattle7Writers are teaming up to feature The Novel: Live! this week, beginning today at 10 a.m. with author Jennie Shortridge.

For six full days, the public will get to cheer on 36 of their favorite Northwest authors in the Hugo House's cabaret as they each take their turn at the keyboard in this marathon writing session to complete a full-length novel. And for those who can't make it out to see their favorite writers working live on stage, you're in luck--The Novel: Live! website will include live streaming and chat capability.

On top of being able to see all of your favorite authors busy at work with their craft, the Hugo House will be featuring a happy hour each day from 5-7 p.m. with drink specials, free food, raffle prizes and Seattle celebrity emcees such as Nancy Guppy, Warren Etheredge, KEXP's Kurt B. Reighley and singer/songwriter John Roderick.

There are some fantastic local writers featured on the schedule, including Kathleen Alcala, Ed Skoog, the H.H's own Karen Finneyfrock, Elizabeth George, Stacey Levine, Frances McCue, David Lasky, 826 Seattle's founding director Teri Hein and so so so many more.

And to help the writers with any small cases of stage fright, each will be granted three "lifelines" where they will be able to call other writers, friends, their agents and so on. Seattle's favorite librarian and beloved Book Lust author, Nancy Pearl, will as well be on hand for encouragement each day, as the Novel: Live!'s "fairy god-author."

Like us, you might be wondering: how the hell will this work, exactly? Considering that some of these writers are mainly known for poetry, or graphic novels, and yet others are award-winning prose authors, it'll be exciting to see the final project and what comes out of this possibly insane creative process, to say the least. Will it be a mishmash, will it flow correctly... will it make sense? No one can tell for sure, but we'll just have to hunker down at the Hugo House and watch how it all unfolds. Part of the fun, yeah?

And as an added bonus for all of the writers in the audience cheering on their favorite authors, The Novel: Live! may just be the inspiration you were needing to help prepare you for November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, the premise is simple: writers are encouraged to take a "seat-of-your-pants" approach to their craft and complete a 50,000 word, 175 page novel by midnight on November 30. No big deal, right?! For all of you partaking this November, we give you some serious props and overall, encourage you to get out this week to see all of the writers at The Novel: Live! take on a similar task, only instead as a collaborative effort, and you know, less than a week to finish.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bibliomania, a "Bibliodick" and a Rare Book Thief Who Stole for Love

Allison Hoover Bartlett will be in town this this weekend to read from her latest non-fiction Bibliomania mystery, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession. Bartlett will be at Elliott Bay Book Company today at 4 p.m. and at the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair in booth 303 with the self-acclaimed "bibliodick" himself, Ken Saunders on Sunday, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tickets for the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair are $5 and can be purchased at the door.

Journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett describes in her non-fiction debut novel, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, that according to the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, there are five specific profiles for rare book thieves: those who steal for profit; those who steal in anger; the casual thief; and those who steal for their own personal use. Know thine enemy.

Bartlett's real life account of rare book thief John Gilkey and the Utah rare book dealer and self-appointed "bibliodick" Ken Saunders who caught him, will leave book lovers astounded and most likely looking a little closer through garage sale or bargain bin books in the future. Bartlett takes us deep into not only the years that Saunders chased Gilkey around the country while he stole possibly up to $300,000 worth of rare books with stolen credit card numbers, but also into a world where Bibliomania is the main stream, dust jackets are described like beloved children and many would sell their soul for a first edition copy of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ken Follett on His Latest Historical Fiction Masterpiece, Fall of Giants

Ken Follett will be at Town Hall tonight to speak about his latest historical epic novel, Fall of Giants, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

If there is one book, overall, that we could recommend to read this fall, it would hands down be Ken Follett's ambitious new novel, Fall of Giants. Granted, we are a total sucker for historical fiction AND the early 20th century just happens to be our favorite time period... But regardless, this first volume of the Century Trilogy is absolutely outstanding.

Many first fell in love with Follett while reading his international bestselling novel The Pillars of the Earth, now also a television miniseries. Pillars spent twenty-six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list; London's The Times asked readers to vote for the 60 greatest novels of the last 60 years and Pillars came in at number two, right behind To Kill a Mockingbird; and in Germany, Pillars was voted the third most popular book ever written, trailing only behind Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and the Bible. After finishing the Pillars sequel, World Without End, nobody could have imagined the astonishing masterpiece that Follett would take on next; it seemed he had already conquered the unbelievable.

Fall of Giants, the first volume of the Century Trilogy that will cover all of the 20th century's greatest events ending with the Cold War, weaves together five families as their lives are uprooted and transformed by the Russian Revolution, the women's suffrage movement and WWI. Described as "on a scale that is at once, panoramic and intimate," we could not agree more. By choosing to include families from each of the countries primarily affected by the events surrounding WWI, Follett expertly details all perspectives and lifestyles of the time with an impressive ease. Fall of Giants is an extremely epic read, but we promise it is also one that you will be staying up late just to finish. As Fall of Giants covers WWI and the early 20th century, stay tuned for Book Two (2012), which will follow the five families' descendants and cover WWII, and Book Three (2014), which will cover the Cold War.

Early on in your career, you were primarily known as a thriller writer and then you made a dramatic transition to historical fiction in 1989 with your international bestseller, The Pillars of the Earth. What inspired you to take on the Century Trilogy and the ambitious task of covering the entire twentieth century?

After writing World Without End I wanted to write another book of the same sweep and length--but I didn't want to do another medieval story. It occurred to me that the twentieth century is the most dramatic and violent period in human history, and it is also the history of my readers and me, our parents and grandparents. So it's about where we all come from.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Koren Zailckas Explores Anger and Family in Her Latest Memoir, Fury

Koren Zailckas will be reading from her latest memoir, Fury, tonight at the University Village Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m.

You may remember cute-as-a-button Koren Zailckas from her bestselling debut memoir, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, that was written when she was merely in her early twenties, consequently making her the "poster girl for binge drinking." In Fury, Zailckas is back and more amazing than ever, taking us through her post-Smashed years as she sets out to write an objective, journalistic book on modern American attitudes towards anger and remedies for rage. Little does Zailckas know, she has her own anger to deal with--that of which has been repressed, subdued and bottled up, stemming from her early childhood and her family relationships.

We first meet Zailckas again as she is returning on a flight home from the U.K. where she has just experienced a heart-crushing breakup from her then musician boyfriend, "the Lark," a nickname given for his "talents of both singing and flight." Zailckas is rightfully devastated (as most are when they find out that their love no longer loves them) and she retreats to her parents New England home before her subletted NYC apartment will again be available.

Zailckas dabbles in homeopathy, yoga, Tonglen meditation, counseling and journaling as she struggles with a downward spiral of depression and a severe writer's block that is preventing her from working on her book about anger. Finally, Zailckas' therapist asks her point blank, "Is there a chance that the repressed anger that led you to write this book is the same force that's preventing you from seeing it through?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

David Plouffe Reveals Obama's Campaign Details in The Audacity to Win

David Plouffe will be speaking about his tell-all book The Audacity to Win: How Obama Won and How We Can Beat the Party of Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Tickets for this event are $5.

Though David Plouffe's hardcover book The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory was published last year, the paperback edition could not be more timely with the new subtitle of How Obama Won and How We Can Beat the Party of Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin and an added chapter on this year's elections and the current political atmosphere. And damn, Plouffe's got some dead-on analyses for the Republican Party and the three notorious crazies that have become the "rock stars of the hard-right punditocracy."

Regardless of the chapter and subtitle addition, both editions of this tell-all book make for an excellent read and we would highly recommend it to anyone--no matter what your political agenda, knowledge or background may be. Plouffe delves deep into the architecture of Obama's presidential campaign and details the under-dog pathway that led up to the historic moment of Obama's inaguration and the overall dreamy feeling of hope that swept over our country.

When Plouffe first signed on as then-state senator Barack Obama's campaign manager, he had serious doubts about the potential of the campaign actually making it past the primaries. In an early conversation with close friend and future Obama top advisor David Axelrod, Plouffe says, "I think he wants to run, but he's drawn more to the idea of running than actually running...He clearly has a good sense of why he might want to run, and it's not about power or politics or some long-held ambition...How many people have just sort of, last minute, with no planning, rolled the dice and jumped into a presidential race against maybe the strongest front-runner in history? With young kids to boot?"

Plouffe also admits that early on he realized that he would possibly "get to have his cake and eat it too" by becoming Obama's campaign manager--he could agree to manage the campaign, do something for the greater good of the country and then never have to actually see it through. He could potentially be home in a year with his wife and young son and go back to his everyday life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tatjana Soli on Her Debut Novel, The Lotus Eaters

Tatjana Soli will be reading from her debut novel The Lotus Eaters at Elliott Bay Book Company on Saturday, July 31, at 2:00 p.m.

Tatjana Soli's debut novel The Lotus Eaters is not your average "war story." Rather than being told through a male perspective--or even a male soldier's perspective at that--the book details an American female photojournalist's journey into the depths of the Vietnam War. Overall, The Lotus Eaters' unique point of view was extremely refreshing, considering that many American novels surrounding times of war are written by men and solely about men. And to be honest, we love those stories and we can't blame them; those WERE different times, but such is the case today and Soli couldn't have asked for more appropriate timing with her debut novel. After all, this is 2010--the same year where we saw Kathryn Bigelow's low budget Iraq War film The Hurt Locker beat out her ex-husband James Cameron's blockbuster not-so-low-budget film Avatar. (And with good right!)

Besides the fact that Soli is writing about the Vietnam War through a female perspective, we as well loved the complexity of seeing the war through the eyes of a photojournalist and from the perspective of Linh, a Vietnamese man. Regardless of the death and demise surrounding his family and homeland, Linh is ultimately filled with forgiveness and hope for the future, rather than rage for the American soldiers invading his country. All of these aspects combined made The Lotus Eaters a fantastic read and needless to say, a welcoming new take on the effects and the destruction of the Vietnam War.

The Lotus Eaters delves deep into the Vietnam War and the politics of the 60s and 70s; how did you go about your research for the novel? Had you traveled to Cambodia or Vietnam before working on the novel?

My research was in two stages. I had always been fascinated by the war and read all the fiction, saw all the movies, documentaries, etc. years before I ever thought of writing about it. So that was research as hobby. Once I made that decision to write my own book, my research was all about getting the facts right. I read everything non-fiction about the war, from both the American perspective as well as the Vietnamese. But I also studied French colonialism, Vietnamese culture and language. Over the years I spoke with many Vietnam vets and also many Vietnamese immigrants. Bits and pieces accreted, which is an inefficient method, because you might only use five percent of what you have, but it's organic, the way we experience life itself.

What prompted you to choose the Vietnam War as your subject and setting for The Lotus Eaters?

I was a little girl when my mom worked for NATO in Naples, Italy, and then transferred to Fort Ord in Monterey, CA. This was in the late 60s. Things were going on that were very traumatic to the adults around me, if little understood by me as a child. I have memories that I would never use in fiction, they are too personal, but they fueled the longing to understand. So in the way memory works, I emotionally connected with that time in a way that was deeper than more current conflicts. I wanted to write about a character who bears witness to violence. How does a human being decide to live her life when confronted with a fallen world? But I also liked the remove in time from the war, the space that allows one to mythologize the experience.

It was so refreshing to read about Vietnam from a female perspective; can you tell us more about your choice in using Helen Adams as the main character?

As a young reader, I always loved adventure stories--Conrad, Greene, Hemingway--and I hated that the main characters were always men. The women were always staying behind, waiting and knitting socks. They were never active in making their fate. So I wanted a grand adventure for my heroine. I wanted her to be tested, to grow as a human being from her experience, so that was one motivation. The other is that as a writer, you always want to add something new to the existing body of literature. No writer will discover the truth of the soldier's experience in Vietnam as brilliantly as Tim O'Brien. That's not my story to tell. But bringing an outsider's perspective to the war--an outsider to the military and also an outsider to the world of journalists--that character can see things about the country, the people, and even the military, that is unavailable to insiders.

When I was still reading about Vietnam as a hobby, I came across a picture of Dickey Chapelle in Vietnam. I still clearly remember the shock of her wearing pearl earrings, and I couldn't get that picture out of my head. In all the reading I'd done, there had been no mention of women as photojournalists. Admittedly, there were only a handful, including one of my prime inspirations, Catherine Leroy, but I felt this deep recognition - this was my story.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Get to Know a Local Poet: Lana Hechtman Ayers

We've been fortunate in getting to know Lana Hechtman Ayers better over the past few years through working with her at the Port Townsend Writers' Conference and at Crab Creek Review, where she is the poetry editor. Originally from the East Coast, Lana now lives just across the pond from Seattle in Kingston, WA.

Lana's work has been feature in numerous publications such as Slant, Potomac Review, Cider Press Review, and Bitter Oleander. Besides working with Crab Creek Review, Lana runs Night Rain Poetry, which offers manuscript and poetry editing and writing workshop services, and she publishes the Concrete Wolf poetry chapbook series. She is also the author of several full-length collections of poems and chapbooks, including Dance from Inside My Bones, Chicken Farmer I Still Love You, and her latest book What Big Teeth: Red Riding Hood's Real Life, which serves as a prelude to her forthcoming collection, A New Red.

What first inspired you to take on the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood's story?

Red herself inspired me to take on the telling. As coy as it sounds, Red Riding Hood showed up on the page one day as I sat down to write. Then she just kept showing up. I would sit down to write about something else and there she'd be. It actually got to be a bit frustrating. I understand fiction writers are often stalked by characters until they give in and write their stories. As a poet, that had never happened to me before.

So then I decided to do some research into the fairy tale, maybe find out its significance. It turns out that there is a wealth of critical writing on fairy tales in general and Red Riding Hood in particular. Independently, scholars Jack Zipes and Alan Dundes have done extensive work collecting and analyzing all the versions of the fairy tale. And according to Catherine Orenstein's Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale, there is some version of the Red character in the folklore of nearly every culture on nearly every continent. And the moral lessons that seem implicit in each version of the tale vary greatly as well. Understanding how widespread, compelling and embedded the Red Riding Hood story is in the human psyche, I could finally give in and let Red take the lead.

Once I gave in, the poems came feverishly.

Would you say that What Big Teeth: Red Riding Hood's Real Life is more of a social commentary about women choosing the life they want, rather than the life that society wants them to have?

Yes, I would say that my collection What Big Teeth: Red Riding Hood's Real Life is concerned with women's expected roles in society. Even more than three decades after the women's movement exploded onto the scene, woman are still agonizing over choosing between work they are passionate about and their familial and domestic responsibilities. The Red Riding Hood of What Big Teeth never strayed from the path, thus never met the Wolf when she was a little girl. She obeyed all the rules and ended up as a young adult woman who was married and working at a daycare, who really had no idea who she was or what she was passionate about.

Would you say that most women generally choose the wolf over the "nice guy"?

This is a tough question to answer, so I'll try to do so in the context of the story. Hunter, the lumberjack Red Riding Hood marries, isn't a bad guy. He is definitely what one might think of as a macho guy. He is a man's man as they say and wants a wife who knows her place. In that way, he is almost more of a stereotypical "Wolf" and physically dangerous character than the Wolf of this story who is an artist. Although, the Wolf as an artist is dangerous to the status quo. Ultimately, it's not a question for Red of choosing a dangerous guy or a safe guy, but of finding a way to stop playing it safe in her own life, of learning to take risks and reach for her own goals.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sloane Crosley Takes Her Wit and Charm Cross-Country and Beyond in How Did You Get This Number

Sloane Crosley will be reading from her latest book of essays How Did You Get This Number tonight at University Book Store at 7:00 p.m. This event is FREE.

We're just going to assume that like us, you too first fell in love with cute-as-a-button Sloane Crosley after reading her first collection of short essays, I Was Told There'd be Cake. Once dubbed as the writer of the worst-selling Maxim cover story in the magazine's history, Crosley has since been compared to many of our all-time literary favorites including Sarah Vowell, David Sedaris, and the infamously always lovely Dorothy Parker.

How Did You Get This Number does a fantastic job of further highlighting Crosley's maturity as a writer and now as an early thirtysomething who has moved past the young woes of botched first jobs and the like, and into more of an adult realm of situational humor. However this is not to say that her second collection of essays is any less humorous than the first; rather we think it just may be the opposite.

Crosley remarks on the differences between her two collections by saying, "I Was Told There'd be Cake was very much more about generational disappointment. Thus, How Did You Get This Number is a grown-up version of those same ideas. Disappointment 2.0... I Was Told There'd be Cake was really about trying to connect with people and failing. In How Did You Get This Number, the connections are there but they are broader (encompassing places as well as people). They go deeper and then what? Complications ensue and life is just as amusing and odd as ever when the stakes are higher."

And with essays based in locations such as Lisbon, Portugal to New York where she lives, to Anchorage, Alaska and more, Crosley reminds us once again in How Did You Get This Number of life's little moments and humorous gems that everyone--regardless of age--can relate to. And as Crosley continues to nail each essay perfectly and poignantly, there we were nodding right along with her and thinking, "That's JUST how we remember it." One of those special moments where you find yourself dog tagging page after page and wishing that the author was rather a close friend and you could call them just to say, "ME TOO!"

One essay in particular, Light Pollution, really hit home for us. Crosley travels to Anchorage, Alaska--our hometown--for a close friend's wedding, where she encounters all of the big, the bad, the beautiful and the sometimes ugly that Alaska has to offer. We were absolutely stunned by how Crosley, a Manhattanite and overall an observer on a brief summer trip, describes our beloved state so clearly for what it actually is. Frankly, we've never heard an outsider from "the Lower 48" get it so correctly, and for every time that we've been asked if we grew up in an igloo or mushed dogs to school or eaten a polar bear for lunch, Crosley only eases the pain by demystifing the myths that have been a perpetual aspect of meeting new people and revealing where we are from. Crosley describes first meeting her friend April, during their post-graduate years in New York and learning that she was from Alaska:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mystery Novelist Cammie McGovern Uncovers Deep Suburbia Secrets in Her Latest Novel, Neighborhood Watch

Cammie McGovern will be reading from her latest mystery novel Neighborhood Watch tonight at Elliott Bay Book Company at 7:00 p.m. This event is FREE.

In Cammie McGovern's third novel, Neighborhood Watch, we meet Betsy Treading, the "Librarian Murderess," who has been exonerated from prison with the help of DNA evidence after twelve long years. Betsy believed that she had murdered her neighbor Linda Sue during one of her sleepwalking episodes after finding a bloody nightgown in her laundry hamper; though she has no recollection of the night or of committing the murder.

After being released from prison, Betsy returns to her old suburban street in search of answers to twelve-year-old secrets and most of all, in search of Linda Sue's true killer. However, Betsy has no idea just exactly how many secrets are truly buried behind the beige walls of the seemingly innocent, white picket fenced homes of Juniper Lane.

How did you go about your research for Neighborhood Watch?

I started Neighborhood Watch after watching a particularly powerful documentary called After Innocence, about the over-200 convicted criminals who've served many years in prison (some on death row,) and been completely exonerated for their crimes after new testing DNA evidence revealed they weren't at the scene of the crime. In something like half the cases, these defendants were convicted in part because they'd confessed.

This is a far more common phenomenon than most people realize and I wanted to look at why and how a person might confess to a crime they haven't committed. Usually the explanation is a complicated one: they might have wanted to commit the crime, or considered it. Or they might be confused by police interrogation tactics and believe admitting some part in a crime will get them off. Or--in the case of Betsy, a chronic sleepwalker--they might have no memory of the incident and believe it could have happened. Most juries operate on the assumption that no one in their right mind would ever confess to a crime they didn't commit and the truth is far murkier, and more psychologically interesting, I think. In our most private moments, we are all guilty of dark impulses which most of us can be reasonably sure we'd never act on. But what if you were a sleepwalker, prone to acting out such impulses without any awareness of doing so?

As I worked, I found researching sleep disorders to be particularly compelling. There are a surprising number of real cases where sleepwalking has been used as a successful defense in murder cases. The most remarkable might be a Canadian man named Kenneth Parks who, in 1987, with no known history of violence, got in his car, drove fifteen miles, climbed in the window of his in-law's house and attacked them both with a lead pipe, ultimately killing the mother-in-law he'd by all reports always been very fond of. He argued that he was sleepwalking the entire time and had no memory of the events. Because he had a well-documented history and genetic predisposition to the condition, he was eventually acquitted.

Neighborhood Watch includes fairly complex themes such as somnambulism and physics; are these ideas that you were already familiar with before writing the novel?

I knew a little about somnambulism (a dear friend from college married a man who used to get up and eat large quantities of strange, uncooked things out of the refrigerator at night--a package of hot dogs, or a stick of butter. This is more common than you'd think and as a result it is possible to install refrigerator locks as they did...) I knew very little about physics but my dear brother is a mathematician (and professor at the University of Washington!) who read many drafts of this book and gently steered me in certain directions. Bless his heart, he's also a mystery reader with a good sense for story and how much information one needs to impart without getting too bogged down in passing along all the fascinating research you've done.

The novel takes place on a Desperate Housewives-esque suburban street, Juniper Lane. Though many typically think of suburbia as being dull or boring, Neighborhood Watch shows readers that it can be exactly the opposite. Can you tell us more about your choice for using Juniper Lane as the novel's setting?

I've always been especially fascinated by the housing developments that pop up on old farmland with no trees or natural landscaping and look like an oval Monopoly houses. Part of me can see the great appeal of these developments, where everyone would be equal with identical houses. Your lives might be a shared refelction of each other's almost like the old level-playing field of a college dorm. But of course it isn't really a level playing field and every house on the street might look the same but they all contain secrets. My interest was in looking at how those secrets--many of which might seem perfectly benign--become dangerous and even explosive when the neighbors begin turning a steely on one another with the formation of their new Neighborhood Watch group.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Author Elizabeth George on Helping Trillium Forest and Her Latest Mystery Novel, This Body of Death

Not only have you been on tour for your latest mystery novel, This Body of Death, but you also recently donated $100,000 to help save Whidbey Island's Trillium Forest from being developed. Can you tell us more about that?

Trillium Forest comprises 664 acres of undeveloped second growth forest in the Greenbank area of Whidbey Island. It had been purchased by a developer, who intended to put houses on it, but luckily it fell into foreclosure. This made it available for purchase by the Whidbey and Camano Island Land Conservancy, the warrior group that is attempting to maintain the rural nature of Whidbey Island. I have long believed in the preservation of land. God ain't making any more of it, and once someone has poured concrete over it, it seldom comes back.

The Trillium Forest is Whidbey Island's largest remaining contiguous forest; are others in the community fighting to save the forest and donating money for the cause as well? Do you think that the Whidbey Camano Land Trust will be successful in reaching their goal of raising $4.2 million by June 10?

This is a large scale community effort. The sum needed is enormous. We're hopeful that people who are concerned about land use--no matter where they live--will become engaged by the idea that a piece of property this size could indeed be saved. Sometimes I think people say to themselves, "Well, I'm never going to go there for any reason, so how does this concern me?" when the truth of the matter is that land preservation concerns everyone who wants the planet to have a future that is connected to nature more than to corporate and individual profits.

You've encouraged fellow Whidbey Island authors and artists to join you in helping save Trillium Forest, have others followed suit? How can the general public donate money to help save the forest?

I believe a large number of artists are getting on the band wagon in any number of ways. We're having fundraisers in addition to asking for contributions, so if an individual doesn't have the funds to make a large donation, attendance at a fundraiser can help. Whidbey and Camano Island Land Trust has a website people can log onto to get information if they're interested in helping out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Interview with a Vampire (Writer): Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris will be reading from her latest novel Dead in the Family at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 13, at Town Hall. Tickets for this event are $5.00.

Whether you've read her books, or know her name primarily from the HBO hit series True Blood, Charlaine Harris has been feeding thousands of blood-thirsty fans with her Sookie Stackhouse Series of vampires, shape shifters, and the supernatural for almost a decade now. Some may consider Harris' "Sookieverse" to be the crack Twilight for adults, but regardless, Harris was dead on in thinking her readers may just need some vampires in their lives--before Meyer (who's plagued our rainforest with pilgrims) and the many others that have followed, trying to feed off of the current vampire sensation.

If you love True Blood but are yet to have read Harris' books, be prepared--you've got about a summer's worth (or more) of catching up to do--Dead in the Family is the 10th book in the Sookie Stackhouse Series and the show is still working from the third book in the upcoming season.

Having had her novels described as "cozies with teeth," Harris has seen almost all of her fantastical books soar to the top of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and with the help of True Blood, her fan base is only growing larger. And honestly, like many others, we just can't seem to get enough of it all. For us, it's almost like a newer take on the Southern Grotesque genre that we love so dearly--this time only with vampires, more blood and guts, and the supernatural replacing a time of Calvinism, lynchings, and Jim Crow.

So Dead in The Family is the 10th book in the Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse Series. What do you think about the latest book? Where is Sookie at in her life right now?

What do I think about the book? I think I'm glad it's finished! Yes, I have been busy the past few years, and I don't see it letting up much. Sookie, as always, is facing new challenges as the characters of the people around her become more and more clear under the stress and strain of the politics of the supernatural world.

Can fans look forward to more "Sookie" books in the future? Do you have an idea of how many more will be included in the series, or do you have a particular ending in sight?

I've signed for 13 books total, but I may extend that. I do know how the series will end.

The Sookie Stackhouse Series is set primarily in the South, where you are from as well. Did you plan on having the series take place in Louisiana because of your knowledge of the area or was it rather because you felt that the area fit the characters best?

A combination of those, plus Anne Rice had done such a great job with southern Louisiana, I felt it was time to give northern Louisiana its day in the sun. Or under the moon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Debut Novelist Jean Kwok on What it Means to be a Girl in Translation: Part 2

Jean Kwok will be in town to read from her debut novel Girl in Translation at the Elliott Bay Book Company on Saturday, May 8, at 7 p.m. This event is FREE.

As continued from yesterday...

Kimberly has a best friend in the novel, Annette, who helps her in many ways and overall gives her much-needed "American" advice. Were you lucky enough to have a close friend to help you adjust to your new life in New York?

I am so grateful for the friends I've had in my life. Annette is based upon a conglomeration of several close friends I had. In elementary school, there was one special friend who came from a wonderful family, and they helped us a great deal. Mrs. Avery is partly based upon her mother. I had another good friend and her grandmother was a real estate agent. Her grandmother not only helped us get out of the roach-infested apartment we lived in, she also went to the bank to personally vouch for us, so that we could get a mortgage. We hear so much about humanity's negative qualities, but there are truly many more people who are extremely kind, without any thought of personal reward.

It seems as if Kimberly's family is being exploited not only by the sweatshop, but also by her aunt and uncle. We found this to be a really interesting idea since stories you normally read about immigrant families are of them sticking together and supporting each other. Is this not as typical as we'd like to imagine?

Jealousy, selfishness, and genuine love can be found in immigrant families and in any other type of family. Of course immigrant families do help each other, but there are often elements of competition and guilt as well. Aunt Paula brought Kimberly and her mother to the United States and in her mind, she has helped them as much as she could. Kimberly deeply feels her obligation to her own family, her mother, and that results in some of the most important choices that Kimberly must make.

(Jean, shown below with her school principal, Mrs. Kasindorf.)

Like Kimberly, as a child you excelled in science and math, even going on to work in three laboratories during your senior year of high school. What made you instead switch to English and literature? Was there a writer hiding under there all along? 

When I was seven years old and we were all still working in the sweatshop, my older brother brought home a present for me. He worked day and night at the factory, and if we finished early, he went to his second job waiting tables. There was no money to spare. Somehow, he had saved enough money to buy me a diary with a little lock on it. "Whatever you write in this, is yours," he said. When I look back, I'm amazed that he knew to give me something that would change my life, rather than a toy or a piece of candy.

I loved to read and had read every book in the Children's section of our public library. English was one of my favorite subjects. I also loved science and math as well, and that seemed to me to be a safe road. My background was so difficult that I never considered doing anything as risky as trying to become a writer. It was only at Harvard that I realized I would never have to go back to the factory, and that I could do what I truly wanted: to become a writer.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Debut Novelist Jean Kwok on What it Means to be a Girl in Translation: Part 1

Jean Kwok will be in town to read from her debut novel Girl in Translation at the Elliott Bay Book Company on Saturday, May 8, at 7 p.m. This event is FREE.

Don't let Jean Kwok's debut novel, Girl in Translation, fool you as a memoir; it may be based on Kwok's own experiences of growing up as a Chinese immigrant in New York City and follow a story line quite similar to Kwok's childhood, but she will be the first to tell you that this book is fictional, for the most part.

Kwok has already received a lot of attention for her debut novel and all with good reason. Beautifully written, Girl in Translation is not your typical immigrant story. Like others, there is heartbreak, and tragedy, and a family struggle to learn English and assimilate into the American culture.

But this is also a story about success and how our young narrator, Kimberly, is able to overcome each crushing downfall with grace, grow from her experiences, and use her academic strengths to rise up and live her own "American Dream."

This novel is everything you'd hope for in a well-written immigrant story and more--filled with unexpected twists and turns, unforgettable characters, and a landscape that we are all familiar with. Girl in Translation takes readers on a journey into the slums of Brooklyn and into a life that many of us will never know firsthand, want to see, or at points be able to recognize as reality.

Thanks for taking some time to chat with us; we're sure that this has been a long week for you. How does it feel to have finally finished your debut novel, Girl in Translation, and be on tour?

Fantastic. It was such an uphill struggle to get this novel finished because I had two little children and was also teaching at the university at the same time. I barely slept for years so that I could find the time to write this novel. The reception that Girl in Translation has received so far is more than I ever dared to hope for. It is really a dream come true.

Earlier in your career, it seems that you mainly focused on writing short stories. Did you know that you always wanted to be a novelist? How long did it take you to write Girl in Translation?

I started by writing poetry, which is something I still do and love, although I don't write poetry for publication anymore. I've found that the things I most want to communicate in public are best done in fiction, and writing short stories was a way for me to build up to my ultimate goal, which was to write novels.

When I was still a student in the Columbia MFA program, Lois Rosenthal, editor-in-chief of Story magazine, plucked my stories out of the slush pile and published them. She told me I was doing something very important, and that I must continue. Agents, an independent film company, and editors contacted me and it was clear that now was the time for me to write a novel.

However, I then moved to Holland for love and disappeared off the face of the publishing world. I did nothing but attempt to write this novel. Although people now often tell me that it's an involving, moving and seamless read, it took me ten years to develop the craft necessary to design it that way.

(Jean, shown below, as a child.)

Though Girl in Translation is fictional, Kimberly's childhood sounds very similar to that of your own experiences--your family's immigration from Hong Kong to the slums of Brooklyn when you were five, working in a sweatshop, living in a condemned apartment, and so on. Would you say that you were as well a "girl in translation" at one point (or many) during your childhood?

Absolutely. I don't think I've ever stopped being a "girl in translation." I've always lived in several different worlds at once: the sweatshop and Harvard, the dance world and that of academia, Chinatown and country clubs, Europe and the United States. Especially when I was younger, I always felt I had to translate myself from one world into the other. However, I see this as a great gift, because I can now see the world from many different perspectives.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hugo House Passes the Ladies the Mic at "She Said"

The Hugo House will be hosting She Said: Women's Lives Through Poetry and Prose tonight at 7 p.m. with David Schmader. This event is FREE.

Oh Snap! Turns out that IS what she said... or at least what she'll be saying tonight at the Hugo House. Featuring a fantastic lineup of seven Northwest female writers and poets such as Elizabeth Austen, Midge Raymond, Janna Cawrse Esarey, and Susan Rich, She Said: Women's Lives Through Poetry and Prose hopes to provide a witty and insightful look into the less obvious aspects of womanhood--something we're sure that all of the ladies will be able to identify with.

Host David Schmader will lead the evening as the female authors read from forthcoming and previously published work pertaining to the many aspects of what it means to be a woman--tackling issues such as relationships, sex, motherhood, work, and travel, and possibly all of those happening at once--through an eclectic mix of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Poet Elizabeth Austen is the author of the forthcoming chap book, The Girl Who Goes Alone, which will be available in late May. You can hear Austen's voice regularly on KUOW as she is interviews local Northwest poets every Saturday, from noon-2 p.m. Austen's poetry has been featured in publications such as the Bellingham Review, Pontoon, Swivel, and Weathered Pages.

Janna Cawrse Esarey is the author of last year's Indie hit travel memoir, The Motion of the Ocean. Described as "a well-written, rollicking high-seas adventure," (who can complain with that?) this nonfiction book was named as a favorite summer read by Publishers Weekly and was also a Parade Magazine pick. You may also know Esarey from her P.I. column "Happily Even After: Married w/ Kids Seeks Work-Life-Love Balance," where she blogs about all things relationships.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hugo House to Host Their First Writers' Conference

The Richard Hugo House will be hosting their first ever writers' conference over the weekend of May 21-23 and boy, have they got some good stuff in store for participants. The conference will include panels and workshops, among other festivities, to the theme of Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century.

Not only are we in the middle of a terrible economy, but the modern publishing world as we know it is going through a historical transition and looking fairly uncertain for many professionals and lovers. Local bookstores are closing; our favorite magazines and newspapers are increasingly becoming thinner; the industry has seen hundreds of lay offs; and as this decade's most popular saying goes, "Everything is moving to the web."

As the Hugo House notes, "Meanwhile, writers soldier on, putting one word after another, revising and revising again, wondering how, and if, anyone will read their work. Well it's time to stop wondering and take matters into your own hands."

Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century will feature a wide array of favorite Seattle authors, editors, writers, and professionals, such as award-winning publishing consultant Alice B. Acheson, poet and Crab Creek Review editor Kelli Russell Agodon, The Stranger's David Schmader, cofounding editor of Seal Press Barbara Sjoholm, and Bruce Taylor, a.k.a. "Mr. Magic Realism," and many influential others.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: How Laura Munson Saved Her Marriage and May Just Save Yours as Well

Laura Munson will be reading from her debut memoir, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness at Third Place Books on Tuesday, April 13, at 7 p.m. This event is FREE.

From the vague title alone, you're not really quite sure what you're getting yourself into when beginning Laura Munson's debut memoir, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness.

Written in the style of a diary, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is details the four-month journey of Munson's highs and lows in a time of marital crisis. Munson wrote the book in real time, and it's apparent throughout that even she is not quite sure how the story will actually end.

We first meet Munson at five a.m. on a Montana summer morning, where as if we were a close friend, she reveals to us,
"At this moment in my life, I am strangely serene. In fact, I may have never felt more calm. Or more freed. Or more certain that these things owe themselves to a simple choice: to accept life as it is. Even and especially when it really fucking sucks. Even and especially if my husband left last night to go to the dump after announcing that he isn't sure he loves me anymore... and nine hours later, still hasn't come back."
You can't help but read that paragraph without instantly thinking: OH. SHIT. Or more so, you can't help but imagine how you might react in that given situation--would you plead, cry for reconsideration? Throw plates and furiously scream back? Take your tire iron to your husband's Escalade Subaru in revenge?

Have You Hugged Your Local Library Lately?

Let your library love shine as today kicks off the beginning of National Library Week. So if you haven't been to the library in awhile to pay your respects, this week is the perfect--if not best--time to do just that. And who knows, maybe your favorite librarian will be in such a good mood they'll waive those late fees for you. Maybe.

This year, libraries all around the country will be celebrating their special week to the theme of "Communities Thrive @ Your Library," and the American Library Association has chosen Neil Gaiman as this year's Honorary Chair of National Library Week. Though not in Seattle, Gaiman will be speaking about libraries and censorship as a part of the honorary week and will appear in print and radio PSAs nationwide.

The Seattle Public Libraries will be giving away free commemorative bookmarks (while supplies last) at all locations and the "Animal Truck" bookmobile will be parked on 4th Ave. in front of the downtown Central Library from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on April 14--National Bookmobile Day. The bookmobile program reaches out to provide library services to those who cannot get to a physical library due to age, disability, or illness.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

All About Insects: Hugh Raffles Visits Town Hall Tonight

Hugh Raffles will be speaking at Town Hall tonight on his latest book, Insectopedia, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

Though many of us don't think twice when taking a newspaper to an errant fly or killing a spider in the shower that was really that BIG, anthropology professor Hugh Raffles encourages us to stop and consider our decisions in his latest book, Insectopedia.

Insectopedia is organized alphabetically, similar to that of an encyclopedia, with one entry for each letter. Complete with essays, meditations, short vignettes, and plenty of Raffles' miscellaneous musings, Insectopedia explores themes of history and science, travel and anthropology, economics, pop culture, and philosophy that shows the impact that insects have in our lives and that of which that we have in theirs.

With entry titles such as "Kafka," "Sex," "Chernobyl," and "Zen and the Art of Zzz's," Raffles expertly creates a well-rounded story on the relationship that we humans have with our much smaller counterparts. Our fears, phobias, love, and obsessions--even our sexual fetishes--that are triggered by insects. By far, Insectopedia is not your average dry science read that you may have studied while growing up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Environmentalist Barry Lopez to Speak at Seattle Arts & Lectures

Barry Lopez will be speaking at Benaroya Hall as a part of Seattle Arts & Lectures on Wednesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $10-70.

Revered as "a modern day Henry David Thoreau,""a writer's writer," and overall as "arguably the nation's premier nature writer," Barry Lopez is an essayist and author of over a dozen well-known fiction and nonfiction works.

Lopez is best known for his 2001 book, Arctic Dreams, which won him the National Book Award. Other nonfiction books of Lopez's include About This Life, Crossing Open Ground, and Of Wolves and Men, which was also a National Book Award finalist and recipient of the Christopher and John Burroughs awards.

As a landscape photographer until 1981, it's easy to understand why Lopez is, in many ways, in tune with the nature around him, and that of in the world at large. Lopez has traveled to over 70 different countries, has spent time with aboriginal peoples in the high Arctic of Canada and Alaska and Australia's Northern Territory, and he currently resides in western Oregon near the McKenzie River.

Monday, April 5, 2010

William T. Vollmann Reads from Kissing the Mask

William T. Vollmann will be in town this week to read from his latest nonfiction book, Kissing the Mask, at both the Northwest African American Museum (7:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 6) and Third Place Books LFP (7:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 7). Both events are FREE.

We could not be more excited for William T. Vollmann's readings this week. We were first introduced to Vollmann's work a couple years ago and quickly became hooked--the man is seriously brilliant. The Stranger even goes as far as to refer to him as a genius, and we can't say that we disagree much.

Many may know Vollmann best for his widely talked about eccentricites--his obsession with prostitution, admitted crack smoking habits, lack of eyebrows, or even the fact that while writing his first novel You Bright and Risen Angels he slept under his office desk for almost a year and lived off of candy bars from the vending machine--we've all heard the stories; the miscellaneous quirks that make Vollmann stand out for better or worse.

Imperfect Birds: Anne Lamott's "Rosie" Trilogy Comes to a Close

Anne Lamott will be at the University Village Barnes & Noble on Tuesday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. to read from her latest novel, Imperfect Birds. This event is FREE.

At first glance, one may not realize that Anne Lamott's latest novel, Imperfect Birds, is the final piece of a trilogy--or as her faithful readers may call it--the last book in the "Rosie" series. Imperfect Birds stands on its own as a novel quite perfectly, in fact. The characters, the setting, and the plot are all introduced in full detail, as if they hadn't already played their roles in Lamott's previous novels, Rosie and Crooked Little Heart.

We began Imperfect Birds without any knowledge of its connection to the other books. Absolutely no idea that this was the ending of a trilogy. Not once does the book reveal this information, or make you feel as if you're missing a large chunk of the story.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy National Poetry Month

Good morning Seattle Lit friends and Happy National Poetry Month! Whether you're reading your favorite poems today, writing, attending a great reading (such as the Dark Coast Press Book Release Party tonight!), or even just thinking about poetry--we hope you are having an excellent day. Cheers to a month full of poetry, and plenty of good readings and events where that came from. April Fools' Day may come once a year, but poetry lasts forever.

And if you're looking for a new poem to start off your day, consider heading over to Verse Daily, where a new poem is featured each morning. You may just find a new favorite, or at the least, some inspiration to keep all those pranksters at bay until the day rolls over safely.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dark Coast Press Celebrates National Poetry Month with Book Release Party

Along with being April Fools' Day, tomorrow kicks off the beginning of National Poetry Month (NaPoMo) and there will be plenty of great readings and events to attend throughout April. Some, we've already mentioned--the reopening of Elliott Bay Books on April 15, Hugo House's Dead Poets Society readings, and the Edible Book Festival--and well, there will be plenty more where that came from.

Lucky for us, we happen to live in city that takes "all that poetry stuff" pretty darn seriously. The Seattle area is home to many small presses that specialize in poetry. There's Copper Canyon Press, Wave Books, Floating Bridge Press, and not to mention Seattle's newest small publisher Dark Coast Press.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Elliott Bay Book Company Says Goodbye to Pioneer Square

Tomorrow is Elliott Bay Book Company's last day in its well-known Pioneer Square location. The First and Main Globe building had been the historic book store's home since June 29, 1973. Even though Elliott Bay Books will remain in town at its new Capitol Hill location (1521 10th Ave.), opening in mid-April, we can't help but feel as if a good friend is moving away.

We're positive that the new store will be just as much of a home for us in the future as the Pioneer Square location is now, but that doesn't mean we have to be happy about it. Change is hard; and though we will miss the Shakespearian Globe-esque feel of the space, the smell of cedar and the wall-to-wall books, the creaking floor boards, and not to mention some of our most favorite Seattle literary moments, we're supportive and optimistic for Elliott Bay's future on the hill.

On the new location (as shown below), Elliott Bay Book Company says,

"Be assured--the new place will have its own distinct charms, many of them very similar to what people have known and enjoyed about our Pioneer Square home. Everyone that we know of who's had a sneak peek as construction has ensued has gone 'wow' in appreciation and anticipation."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Whip Smart's Melissa Febos at Elliott Bay Books


Melissa Febos will be at Elliott Bay Book Company on Saturday, March 27 at 7:00 p.m., to read from her new memoir, Whip Smart. This event is FREE.

On first appearance, one might assume that Melissa Febos' new memoir, Whip Smart, is only a story about sex. And granted, the memoir does involve sex--considering that it details Febos' four-year experience or, "secret life," as a dominatrix in a Manhattan sex dungeon--but if you ask the author herself, she'll be the first to tell you that Whip Smart is, "a story about love, identity, getting honest with oneself—all that normal and incredibly difficult human stuff." Check out the trailer below for a better idea (btw, we LOVE book trailers)...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sherman Alexie Wins 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

This week certainly started off with a bang for author Sherman Alexie, as it was announced on Tuesday that the author's fiction collection, War Dances, had just been selected as the winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction--America's largest peer-juried prize for fiction.

Up against almost 350 other novels and short story collections by fellow American authors, Alexie will receive $15,000 along with the prestigious award and very well-earned bragging rights. The four other finalists--Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna; Lorrie Moore for A Gate at The Stairs; Lorraine M. López for Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories; and Colson Whitehead for Sag Harbor--will each receive $5,000.

PEN/Faulkner judge Al Young says of Alexie's honored book, "War Dances taps every vein and nerve, every tissue, every issue that quickens the current blood-pulse: parenthood, divorce, broken links, sex, gender and racial conflict, substance abuse, medical neglect, 9/11, Official Narrative vs. What Really Happened, settler religion vs. native spirituality; marketing, shopping, and war, war, war. All the heartbreaking ways we don't live now--this is the caring, eye-opening beauty of this rollicking, bittersweet gem of a book."

Dead Poets Society at The Hugo House

 
 Dead Poets Society will take place at 7:30 p.m., on Thursday, April 15th, at the Hugo House. Tickets are $10 for the public and $6 for students, seniors, and Hugo House members.

Hugo House is once again hosting their popular Dead Poets Society readings in celebration of April as National Poetry Month, where local poets portray--in full costume--famous (or infamous) dead poets. This year's dead poets include Matt Gano as Richard Brautigan, Jourdan Keith as Audre Lorde, Peter Pereira as Frank O'Hara, and Nicole Hardy as Anne Sexton, with the lovely Kate Lebo hosting.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Small Press Book Fest at Pilot Books


Small Press Book Fest is still underway at Pilot Books until the end of March, and if you haven't made it out yet for a reading, we'd highly recommend it!

So far, the festival has already featured great writers such as Matthew Zapruder (Wave Books, The Pajamaist), Stacey Levine (The Girl with Brown Fur), Matt Briggs (The End is the Beginning), and so so so many more. AND, the best part about the festival is that all of the readings and writing workshops are free. So now's your chance to show your support for small presses, attend some fantastic readings and workshops, and get all of those favorite books signed.

Tonight's events feature a reading and writing workshop with local writer Matthew Simmons, author of last year's super popular Indie novella (only 67 pages!), A Jello Horse, where an unnamed young man sets out to attend a funeral with a group of friends in middle America.

Cookin' The Books at The Seattle Edible Book Festival

Once again it's that time of year to cook the books and put your humor and creative cooking skills to the test at the 5th annual Seattle Edible Book Festival. So if you've got a favorite book or literary pun up your sleeve that you're just dying to pay homage to in jello or sculpt in marzipan--fellow book nerd, we love you. And this is your time to bring it.

If you're yet to have heard about the Edible Book Festival, the premise is simple: create and bring a piece of edible art that is related to books. It can be a pun on a title, refer to a famous scene or character, look like a book, or just have something to do with books in general. The only requirement is that it must be edible.

Overall, the festival is a great opportunity to get together and celebrate books, food, and some good ol' fashioned nerdy fun. And you don't just have to be a book lover to play along--this event is perfect for chefs, artists, kids, foodies, and even your average punsters.

Last year we had the chance to volunteer at the festival and we were amazed by the creativity and wit that went in to all of the pieces. For a general idea, past years have included entries such as: S'more and Peace, Alice in Wonderbread, The Bun Also Rises, Curd Vonnegut, Her Pie Was Watching God, and so, so, so much more. We even saw one entry titled For Whom the Taco Bell Tolls, which only included some Taco Bell food. Seriously. As long as it's edible and pertains, you're in.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Norway Serial Killer on the Loose in The Devil's Star

Jo Nesbo will be reading from his latest crime noir novel, The Devil's Star, on Monday, March 22, at 7:00 p.m. in Ballard's Lief Erikson Lodge. This event is FREE.

By complete chance, we happened to read The Devil's Star in the same weekend that we watched the Red Riding film trilogy. We didn't necessarily plan on having a weekend filled with European serial killers and police corruption, but damn--it was a good, chilling weekend.

Though Jo Nesbo's novel and the unrelated film series have much in common, The Devil's Star takes place in Oslo, Norway and features Nesbo's most popular returning character, Detective Harry Hole. Hole, in fact, has appeared in a string of Nesbo's past detective novels, making The Devil's Star commonly known as "the latest installment in the Harry Hole series."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

PBR and Prose at The Hugo House

The Hugo House is hosting their third installment of the popular Cheap Wine and Poetry spin-off event, Cheap Beer and Prose, tonight at 7 p.m. Sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon, there will be plenty of cheap beer to go around for only a buck--and really, where else in town can you get a $1 PBR along with a night of great readings from some of Seattle's favorite authors?

Tonight's reading will feature stories, essays, or chapters from local authors Stacey Levine, Jonathan Evison, Bret Fetzer, and Janna Cawrse Esarey, with Charla Grenz hosting. And following the four author's readings, there will be an open mic for anyone that would like to share their own prose up on stage.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Amazing Adventures of Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon will be in town Tuesday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. as a part of the Seattle Arts & Lectures 2009-2010 Literary/Arts Series. Tickets range from $10-70.

We've been waiting to see Michael Chabon since last September when we first received the SAL letter in the mail announcing this year's guests. Had you asked us last fall if we knew when Chabon would be speaking we probably would have come across like one of those "overloaded" Bing characters, giving you a verbal mishmash of miscellaneous Chabon information along with the fact that he would be here in March.

Chabon has always been on our short list of favorite authors and as his career continues, we can't help but grow more fond of him--not only as a writer, but also as a person. His repeatedly proven versatility in genre fiction including that of pulp, fantasy, science fiction, and so much more has truly earned him a rightful place in modern literature history. John Podhoretz, of the The Weekly Standard even takes it one step further, refering to Chabon as "The best writer of English prose in this country, and the most interesting novelist of his generation."