Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Story Time with Kate!

We're excited to announce the launch of Kate's Story Time at Broadway Books, a weekly story time for children! Beginning at 10: 30 on Friday, April 2, staff member Kate Bennison will welcome children up to age ten to enjoy a story or two. We invite parents, grandparents, and anyone else who has a young friend to come to the store and settle in for a good read. If your child can sit quietly outside your lap, please feel free to browse our shelves while Kate is reading. And here's a little bonus: When you bring a child to Kate's Story Time, you can take 25% off any one children's book in the story while you're here. Watch the video to learn about the themes for each story hour, but of course we'll be starting with bunnies for this week's theme. We look forward to seeing you and your story-happy kids this Friday and subsequent Fridays!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Meet Sam and Howie

Regular readers of this blog know that I lost both of my kitty boys last year -- Mikey in August and Joey on Christmas Day -- after more than a decade together. After a couple of months of trying to live in a feline-free house, I went out to Multnomah County Animal Services in Troutdale and picked out a couple of cuties who needed homes.

Today marks the four-week anniversary of welcoming Sam (who is 5-ish) and Howie (who is 1-ish) into my home, so I figured it was time for you all to meet them too. Sam is the brown one who looks like someone splashed a little white paint on his nose. Howie (aka Howie Kazowie the Feline Cannonball) has more white on him and is about the softest cat you've ever met. He also has the less-attractive habit of rising EARLY in the morning with the hopes of getting someone to play with him -- a hope that is pretty regularly dashed, as neither Sam nor I are early risers.

I'm thinking about grooming Sam into becoming a bookstore cat -- he definitely has the right personality -- but I'd have to figure out the commuting thing. I wouldn't want him to spend his nights at the store alone, but I have a hard time seeing him on a leash crossing Broadway with me. Maybe I'll have to get one of those cute little pet strollers that Furever Pets sells so he can travel with me to the store. It's possible Howie could grow into a bookstore cat as well, but right now he has just a tad too much kitty energy. Maybe I'll take them down to Beach Books in Seaside to learn from Oz, the world's best bookstore kitty.

Mikey and Joey left some pretty big paws to fill, but Sam and Howie are working hard toward doing just that!

Winner of Oddest Book Title Prize

The Bookseller Magazine recently announced the winner of the 2009 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year: Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, by Dr. Daina Taimina, who is a mathematician at Cornell University. This year's runners-up were What Kind of Bean is this Chihuahua, by Tara Jansen-Meyer, and Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich, by James A. Yannes.

The UK-based magazine has been awarding the Diagram Prize since 1978 -- the first winning title was Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. Anyone can nominate a title (except publishers cannot nominate their own books), and the public is invited to vote at the magazine's website. There is no prize involved with winning this honor, other than the "inevitable sales boost," resulting from the publicity. The prize's administrators try to not read the nominated books because doing so "might cloud our judgment."

Previous winners include If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs; The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frai; Weeds in a Changing World; Reusing Old Graves; and People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It. No fooling. Have you read any of these?

Freakonomics: The Documentary

The documentary based on the bestselling book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, will get its world premiere on April 30th at the Tribeca Film Festival. The documentary is a compilation of five vignettes made by prominent documentary filmmakers, including Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me).

The book, which published in 2005, mixes smart thinking with great storytelling, exploring the relationship between economics and human behavior, which can be summed up, according to the authors, like this: "people respond to incentives." Among the topics explored in Freakonomics are the connection between teachers and sumo wrestlers, the economics of drug dealing, the relative dangers of guns and swimming pools, and the socioeconomic patterns of naming children. Freakonomics was recently published in paperback.

The highly anticipated follow-up to Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance, was published last October. Some of the topics explored in the second book are the relationships between pimps and realtors, between TV and crime, and between street prostitutes and department-store Santas. Steven Levitt is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. Stephen Dubner is an author and journalist. Freakonomics has sold more than four million copies worldwide. You have to like books that make you look at the world in different ways and reconsider your assumptions. At least I do.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Historic Photos of Oregon

Last week, William C. Stack was at Broadway Books to present his recently published book, Historic Photos of Oregon, published by Turner Publishing. The book offers a pictorial history of Oregon from the 1860s to the 1970s. Before the event, he spoke briefly with Roberta Dyer, co-owner of Broadway Books.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's on My Night Stand These Days

I've been on a bit of a fiction run with my reading lately. Just finished reading Adam Haslett's novel Union Atlantic, which I quite enjoyed (although there was one plot line I could have done without, but it by no means diminished my enjoyment of the book). The main character is an ambitious young banker who eagerly bends the rules (ok, maybe flat out breaks them) to ensure ongoing huge profits -- on paper, at least -- for his bank (sound familiar, anyone?). The book also involves a retired history teacher whose dogs speak to her in the voices of Cotton Mather and Malcolm X, and a troubled teenager who gets drawn into the worlds of both the banker and the retired teacher.

Esquire magazine says of Union Atlantic, "It's big and ambitious, like novels used to be," and the Washington Post says Haslett "may be our F. Scott Fitzgerald." Haslett's first book, You Are Not a Stranger Here, a collection of short stories, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award.

Now I'm reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a debut novel by British writer (although she currently lives in Washington DC) Helen Simonson. I must admit what first drew me to this book was the cover, an illustration from the cover of Life magazine (March 27, 1924), showing two coats and two hats, a man's and a woman's, on a wooden coat rack. But the characters and story line quickly drew me in.

Major Ernest Pettigrew leads a quiet life after the death of his wife, valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. His brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the recently widowed Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

Ron Charles, of the Washington Post, calls the book "a smart romantic comedy" and adds "if Simonson can keep this up she could be heir to the late John Mortimer." And the Christian Science Monitor had this to say: "Lots of books try to evoke Jane Austen, as if naming a character Darcy were all it took. But Simonson nails the genteel British comedy of manners with elegant aplomb."

The author says that she hopes her novel "suggests that you can have many chapters to your life and that it is never too late to begin a new passion." The book took her about five years to write. "I am astonished, when I go into a bookstore, by the amount of time and craft represented in the books on a single table."

The next fiction book on my list to read is the second book in the Flavia de Luce series, The Weed that Strings the Handman's Bag, by Alan Bradley, the follow up to the debut book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I loved the first one and am quite excited to read the second. But I might have to take an interruption in my fiction swing to dive into Rebecca Skloot's book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which as of Sunday has hit #5 on the NY Times Nonfiction Bestseller list! Go Rebecca!!

I know it's a cliche, but it seems never more true than now: so many books, so little time. But I'll take that over the opposite any day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Paintings & Reflections by Shirley Gittelsohn

Please join us Tuesday evening at 7 to hear Shirley Gittelsohn read from and discuss her book, Paintings and Reflections. The book reproduces dozens of Ms. Gittelsohn’s paintings, from 1958 to the present, in gorgeous full color. Each painting is accompanied by a short essay by the artist that places the work in the context of her life and work. We first wrote about the book in our" Twenty-Four Days of Books" blog series. Click here to read more about Ms. Gittelsohn's book and her background. This artist's memoir serves as an attempt, in the artist's own words, “to put my life and my art in order.” Please join us for a wonderful evening of "paintings and reflections."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sacco Wins Ridenhour Prize

For the first time, the Ridenhour Book Prize has been given to an illustrated book: Footnotes in Gaza, by Portland graphic journalist Joe Sacco, a book about a forgotten crime in the Gaza Strip in 1956.

Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Strip, is a squalid place. Buried deep in the history of the town is a bloody incident -- cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake -- in which 111 Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Sacco immersed himself in the daily life of Rafah and the neighboring town of Khan Younis, uncovering Gaza past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, the book captures the essence of a tragedy.

Sacco was born in Malta in 1960 and grew up in Australia and LA before his family moved to Beaverton, Oregon, where he graduated from Sunset High School. He earned his BA in journalism from the University of Oregon in 1981. Sacco has become one of the most well-respected comic book artists of his generation. But he's not so much a graphic novelist as a journalist, reporting on world events through graphics. Some of his previous books include Safe Area Gorazde, But I Like It, and Palestine, for which he won The American Book Award. Sacco currently lives in Portland.

We profiled Footnotes in Gaza on the Bookbroads Blog in December, and The Oregonian named the book one of the Top Books of the Year in 2009. The book is also a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.

The Ridenhour Book Prize honors an outstanding work of social significance from the prior publishing year. The prize also recognizes investigative and reportorial distinction. In this year's announcement, the organization noted "The judges for The Ridenhour Book Prize honor Sacco's tenacious reporting and recognize Footnotes in Gaza as a work of profound social significance, one that explores the complex continuum of history. At a time when peace in the Middle East has never seemed more elusive, Sacco's illustrations bear witness to the lives of those who are trapped by the conflict. This marks the first time that the Ridenhour judges have awarded the prize to an illustrated book, but in the words of David Hajdu in The New York Review of Books, 'There is virtually no precedent for what he does.... Sacco is legitimately unique.'"

Sacco is the seventh recipient of the Ridenhour Book Prize, established to honor Ron Ridenhour. In 1969, Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour wrote a letter to Congress and the Pentagon describing the horrific events at My Lai – the infamous massacre of the Vietnam War – bringing the scandal to the attention of the American public and the world. Ridenhour later became a respected investigative journalist, winning the George Polk Award for Investigative Journalism in 1987 for a year-long investigation of a New Orleans tax scandal. He died suddenly in 1998 at the age of 52. Last year's winner of the book prize was Jane Mayer for her book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.

Congratulations, Joe, on this well-deserved honor!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010 Orange Prize Long List

Yesterday the long list for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction was announced. The Orange Prize, in its second decade, aims to "promote accessibility, originality and excellence" in writing by women. The shortlist will be announced on April 20th, and the award ceremony for the fiction prize, as well as for the Orange Award for New Writers, will take place June 9th. Previous winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction include Marilynne Robinson, Valerie Martin, Ann Patchett, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, Zadie Smith, and Ann Michaels. Here are the women on this year's longlist:

  • Rosie Alison, The Very Thought of You
  • Eleanor Catton, The Rehearsal
  • Clare Clark, Savage
  • Amanda Craig, Hearts and Minds
  • Roopa Farooki, The Way Things Look to Me
  • Rebecca Gowers, The Twisted Heart
  • M.J. Hyland, This is How
  • Sadie Jones, Small Wars
  • Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna
  • Laila Lalami, Secret Son
  • Andrea Levy, The Long Song
  • Attica Locke, Black Water Rising
  • Maria McCann, The Wilding
  • Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
  • Nadifa Mohamed, Black Mamba Boy
  • Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs
  • Monique Roffey, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle
  • Amy Sackville, The Still Point
  • Kathryn Stockett, The Help
  • Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger

Tonight at 7 - Oregon's History in Pictures

Oregon is one darned beautiful state. Of course, some might consider me a little biased, given that I am a native Oregon, but what the heck. Just try and prove me wrong! Tonight, historian William Stack will likely prove me right, as he presents his recently published book Historic Photos of Oregon (Turner Publishing), through discussion and slides.

This pictorial history of Oregon, which offers 200 black-and-white photographs, covers the years 1860 through 1971, in five chronological chapters. Although many people are aware of Dorothea Lange's stunning photographs humanizing the tragic consequences of the Great Depression, most people associate her work with California and the Southwest. But she also came to Oregon, where her images of southern and eastern Oregon during the Depression reveal the hardscrabble life of that place and time while also showing the inner strength, pride and joy of those hardworking people. The book includes fifteen of her photographs of Oregon.

Another major photographer represented in the collection is Edward S. Curtis, who spent his life documenting life among the indigenous peoples of the American West. The book also shows scenes from the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition; an early shot from the Multnomah Athletic Club, established in 1891; a motorcycle club from 1941, the construction of the Bonneville Dam, Celilo Falls before the building of the Dalles Dam flooded the falls; climbers on Mt. Hood throughout the years; and a wonderful photograph from 1912 of Abigal Scott Duniway, Oregon'smost prominent suffragette, with Governor Oswald West and Viola M. Coe, signing Oregon's Equal Suffrage Proclamation.

In addition to its gorgeous scenery, Oregon has a marvelously interesting history. We hope you can join us tonight at 7 pm for this wonderful event.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Screen

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the Millenium Series by Stieg Larsson, is a hot hot hot commodity around the world. Since the beginning of the year, it's the #1 bestselling book at Broadway Books, a stat that holds true for many stores, I'm sure. The second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire, will be available in paperback next week. It's been selling very well in hardback, but I'm expecting sales to explode when the paperback hits the streets. The third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, will be available in a hardbound edition at the end of May.

For those of you who have been eager to see this gripping story hit the big screen, the Swedish film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, with English subtitles, is scheduled to open at many theaters in the US starting this month, and is on the calendar to open in Portland (at Cinema 21) on April 16.

In the first book, a disgraced financial journalist joins forces with an antisocial (and tattooed) but brilliant young hacker to solve a 40-year-old (and very creepy) disappearance.

The story behind the story in the movie is almost as interesting as the plot itself. Author Stieg Larsson, born in 1954, was a Swedish writer and journalist. Prior to his sudden death of a heart attack in November 2004, he finished the three detective novels in his Millenium series, which were published posthumously. Altogether, his trilogy has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide (through the summer of 2009), and he was the second bestselling author in the world in 2008. All three books were adapted into films in 2009 and have become smash hits in Europe. Before his career as a writer, Stieg Larsson was mostly known for his struggle against racism and right-wing extremism.

But wait, the real plot gets even stickier than the fictional one. When Larsson started writing the Millennium series, he supposedly laid out an outline of a total of ten books. Before his death in November 2004, he had finished the first three books and was well underway with the fourth. In an email written to a friend a month before his death, Larsson said that he had finished about half of the fourth book -- the beginning and the end -- but that the middle part was not finished yet.

Many readers have asked if Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson's life companion, could finish the fourth book, as she was deeply involved in the writing while he was still alive. Gabrielsson herself is very positive that she could; however, Swedish jurisdiction obstructs such a solution. Because Gabrielsson and Larsson never married and because he did not leave behind a will, literary rights to his first three books have fallen to his father and brother. His long-time partner claims to have the laptop with the partial manuscript for the fourth book on it, but she is unwilling to part with it unless she is allowed to manage literary rights to the series. The suspense continues!

Not wanting to be left out, Hollywood is of course planning a major English language movie of its own, based on the Larsson books. One recent rumor has Carey Mulligan, 2010 Oscar nominee for her role in An Education, in line to play Lizbeth, the tattooed hacker. Stay tuned for all the news to come! If you want us to hold any of the forthcoming books for you, just give us a shout.

Wimpy Kid Movie Opens Friday!

The first movie based on the wildly popular kids' series The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney, opens at theaters this Friday. Want to go behind the scenes in the making of the movie? Come get Kinney's newest book, just released today: The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood.

Presented in the traditional "wimpy diary" format, but adding color photographs, script pages, storyboad sketches, costume designs, and original art, the new book tells how the original book was translated into a major motion picture -- the perfect companion to the bestselling series.

The next book in the series, the as-yet-unnamed Book 5 -- won't be out until October, so this book and the movie will have to satisfy your wimpy kid cravings until then!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Author of Bone Worship Reads at BB

Bone Worship, a debut novel from Eugene-based Iranian-American author Elizabeth Eslami, tells the story of Jasmine, a young Iranian-American who has dropped out of college just shy of graduation after a failed romance. She has moved back into her parent's house in small-town Georgia, and her Iranian father has in mind an arranged marriage for her.

Furious at his plans, yet also confused and more than a little intrigued, Jasmine meets suitor after suitor with increasingly disastrous and humorous results. Bone Worship, a cross-cultural coming of age story, is a book seven years in the making. The title comes from an elephant tradition of handling the bones of their dead.

Eslami was born in South Carolina. She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She has published several short stories and articles. Bone Worship is her first novel.

Karen Munro, from the wonderful website Portland Reading Local, recently interviewed Eslami about her novel and her writing process. You can link to the full interview here. In the interview, Eslami comments that "nothing quite matches the euphoria of finding the rhythm of a story or the voice you need to pull the reader through a piece. In those moments, it hardly feels like work....My best strategy is to work on several things simultaneously so that if something really isn't working, I can switch to a different project."

Elizabeth Eslami joins us at Broadway Books Tuesday night (March 16) at 7 pm to read from Bone Worship and talk about the process of writing the book. We hope you can join us! Here's a trailer for the book:

What was Lost is Found?

One of the most enjoyable nonfiction books I read last year was The Lost City of Z (Random House), by David Grann (the book is now available in paperback). Recently, the deforestation of vast amounts of jungle in the Amazon have revealed evidence that The City of Z -- or El Dorado, as some called it -- truly did exist.

In a study published in Antiquity, a British archaeological journal, the magazine details how the combination of deforestation and satellite imagery was used to discern the footprint of the buildings and roads of an enormous and sophisticated settlement located in what is now Brazil.

"The combination of land cleared of its rain forest for grazing and satellite survey have revealed a sophisticated pre-Columbian monument-building society in the upper Amazon basin on the east side of the Andes. This hitherto unknown people constructed earthworks of precise geometric plan connected by straight orthogonal roads," the journal states. According to the authors of the study, the community likely had a population of more than 60,000 people, spanned a region of more than 150 miles across, and may date as far back as AD 800.

This early regional population was likely then wiped out by diseases brought by European conquistadores in the 15th and 16th centuries. The conquistodores had heard from the Indians about a fabulously rich Amazonian civilization, but most scholars concluded that El Dorado was no more than an illusion.

Percy Harrison Fawcett, the British explorer profiled in Grann's book (and soon to be the subject of a big-screen movie, brought to life by Brad Pitt, which presumably explains his out-of-control facial growth of late), claimed he had found evidence of an ancient civilization. He disappeared in the Amazonian jungle during a 1925 expedition. Now, Grann says, "there has been mounting evidence that nearly everything that was once generally believed about the Amazon and its people was wrong, and that Fawcett was in fact prescient."

I'm pretty sure the deforestation of the Amazon basin isn't such a hot idea, but this is exciting stuff nonetheless! And I highly recommend David Grann's book. Speaking of Grann, his newest book just arrived in the store last week: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession.

Winners of 2009 NBCC Awards

In January the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award were announced. Last Thursday the winners were announced at a ceremony in New York City. The fiction award went to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (Holt), which also won the Booker Prize last year. Mantel issued a statement in response to the recognition that included the comment that she is working on a sequel to the historical novel focusing on Thomas Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII in Tudor England. The poetry award went to Rae Armantrout's Versed (Wesleyan University Press). The prize for criticism went to Eula Biss for her book of essays on American life and culture, Notes from No Man's Land (Graywolf).

The nonfiction award was won by Richard Holmes for The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Pantheon) -- a book that just came out in paperback at the beginning of March that links science and literature.

The award for autobiography went to Diane Athill for her book Somewhere Towards the End (Norton), described by the judges as "a funny, exact philosophical reflection , told from the end of the author's life yet never presuming that age grants special wisdom -- only some affecting and unexpected stories." Blake Bailey's book Cheever: A Life (Knopf) won the award for biography for his detailed and insightful biography of the writer John Cheever.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Return of Flavia de Luce!

One of the sweetest new mystery series to hit our store of late is the Flavia de Luce series, written by Alan Bradley. The first book in the series was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which has recently come out in paperback. After I read the first book, I described it as Harriet the Spy meets Nancy Drew for grown-ups. You can read more about that first book and the author in my blog post.

We were so excited to unpack a box from Random House this week and find Book Two in the series, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag. As with the first book, the packaging of the book is very sweet -- this one being a purple hardcover book, versus the green of the first book.

The star of the series is Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time around, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths -- deaths separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads. When master puppeteer Rupert Porson is fatally electrocuted during a performance, Flavia puts aside her chemistry experiments and her poisoning plots against her older sisters and sets out on her trusty bike, Gladys, to investigate.

Flavia fans will be happy to know that Bradley is busy working on the third book in the Flavia de Luce series: A Red Herring Without Mustard.

Speaking of The Oscars

Heat up the popcorn popper, it's movie time! We just uploaded four videos with clips from recent readings at the store. You can find them at our Youtube Bookbroads channel. The four clips we posted today are from these recent readings at the store:
  • Ariel Gore, reading from Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Meg Mullins, reading from Dear Stranger (Viking)
  • R. Gregory Nokes, reading from Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon (Oregon State University Press)
  • Donna Matrazzo, reading from Wild Things: Adventures of a Grassroots Environmentalist (iUniverse)

When Donna read here, Joe Smith from KGW came to interview her for KGW's Live@7 show, which added an element of excitement to the evening. In case you missed it, I'll be posting some clips from that in the next few days.

You can read more about each of these books in previous blog posts; just use the search box on the right side of the blog. And now, it's movie time! [Oh, and I was just kidding about The Oscars, by the way.]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Donna Matrazzo to Read Tonight

Donna Matrazzo was an unlikely candidate to become a grassroots environmentalist. She grew up in the steel town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, in a neighborhood choked by railroad tracks and the steel mill, with no connection to the natural world. Books became her only window into nature and the outdoors, and she embraced them with a passion.

She moved to Portland with her husband, living in the Laurelhurst neighborhood for five years. While living there, they began kayaking around the Sauvie Island area and decided that's where they wanted to live. Now they've lived on Sauvie Island for more than twenty years, in a house on an acre and a half, with a 75-acre state natural area across the road.

Donna is a writer by trade, writing and editing books, articles, film scripts, and other documents in the areas of science, health, history, and nature. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, on PBS and The Discovery Channel, and in national park visitor centers and museums around the country. She has also written a writing textbook and a feature film screenplay, The Evening Land.

When Donna first moved to Sauvie Island, she began keeping a journal, something she thought might someday become a book of serene nature observations. Four months after they moved to the island, they heard about a farmer who wanted to sell his land to a Japanese developer to build a tournament-level golf course, and Donna's career in environmental activism and stewardship of the land began and the journal evolved to incorporate discussions of conservation battles. After taking an essay-writing class from John Daniel -- one of Broadway Books' favorite authors -- the journal began to gel into the book she published last year: Wild Things: Adventures of a Grassroots Environmentalist. The book was a finalist for the Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction in the 2009 Oregon Book Awards.

Typically when you write film scripts, Donna says, you have two or three stories woven together. And that's what happened in writing this book, as multiple stories wound around each other.

Barbara J. Scot, a neighbor on the island and an author herself, has this to say about the book: "Donna Matrazzo's writing reflects a rare sensitivity to the complexity of environmental activism and the special courage needed to stand up within one's immediate community. Wild Things is both poignant and practical, a personal journal through familiar land-use battles."

Bill McKibben, educator, environmentalist, and the author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy, among other books, says, "The planet needs more friends like Donna Matrazzo -- and it needs more books like this one, which remind us that we're all quite capable of making big and useful changes."

Sauvie Island, about ten miles north of downtown Portland, is an island that is about the same size and shape as Manhattan Island, yet it is home to only about 500-600 households, about 1000-1200 people, and more than 300 species of wildlife. The first inhabitants of the island were the Multnomah tribe of the Chinook Indians. Sadly their population was decimated in the fever epidemic in 1829. The island was named Wappatoe Island by Lewis and Clark when they explored the area in 1805-06. The island's modern name comes from Laurent Sauve, a French dairyman who was sent to the island by the Hudson Bay Company to raise cattle.

Donna is one of the founding members of the Sauvie Island Conservancy and of the Oregon Ocean Paddling Society (also known as "OOPS"). She serves on the advisory board for the Columbia River Water Trail, is a Certified Schoolyard Wildlife Steward, and has worked part-time for Audubon and as a sea kayak guide.

The majority of environmental activists are ordinary people, says Donna, like-minded people who come together to work intensely on an issue they feel passionate about, often leading to the development of strong and lasting friendships. She describes environmental activism as being to a great extent about "fun, friendship, and food," although one suspects it's more work than that description sounds. In the prologue to her book, Donna writes about the development of grassroots environmentalists: "First comes a deep passion of place. Then the courage to speak up when that place becomes threatened. Then change, and all that change enables."

We hope you will join us at Broadway Books tonight at 7 pm to hear Donna Matrazzo read from her book, Wild Things: Adventures of a Grassroots Environmentalist, and discuss her adventures.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's a Two-Fer Thursday!

Please join us tomorrow night at 7 for a reading by not one but TWO Northwest authors: Jennie Shortridge and Erica Bauermeister.

Erica was born in Pasadena,California, and currently lives in Seattle. She says she knew from the start that she wanted to write, but she decided to do some living first. She earned her PhD at the University of Washington, where she has taught writing and literature. Her first two books were nonfiction books that resulted from her frustration with the lack of women authors in the curriculum: 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader's Guide, written with Holly Smith and Jesse Larsen, and Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14, written with Smith.

Two years spent living in Northern Italy with her family instilled in Erica a love of slow food and slow life, which led to her third book and her first novel, The School of Essential Ingredients. The novel tells the story of eight cooking students and their teacher, Lillian, and is set in the kitchen of Lillian's restaurant. The book is about food and people, and the relationships between them.

The act of cooking, Erica tells us, slows down time and can be a sensual experience. Cooking is also about thinking about other people -- what will make them happy, or excited, or comforted.

Although having children can make writing difficult in a logistical sense, Erica says, "Having children probably had the most dramatic effect upon how I write of anything in my life....I create the work I do because I have had children."

Jennie Shortridge was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, but grew up in Camp Springs, Maryland, and then in a suburb of Denver. As a young reader she devoured books, and began writing her own stories.

She passed through a variety of jobs -- including plumber, cook, secretary, and lead singer in rock and roll bands -- before settling into a 15+-year career in marketing and advertising. Then she began writing her novels. In 2002 she and her husband moved to Portland, and shortly thereafter she published her first novel, Riding with the Queen. In 2005 they moved to Seattle, where they live now, and two more novels followed: Eating Heaven and Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe.

Tonight she reads from her fourthnovel, When She Flew, which was inspired by the true story of the Vietnam vet and his daughter found living in Portland's Forest Park a few years back. [Interestingly, a Portland author, Peter Rock, has also written a novel based on this story, My Abandonment. Peter's book was published last year and is coming out in paperback next month. He will read at Broadway Books on April 8, so you have the opportunity to read both books and hear what both authors have to say. Despite being inspired by same story at the core, the two novels take the story in entirely different directions.]

When She Flew is narrated in alternating chapters by the daughter, Lindy, and Jess, the police woman who found the father-daughter tandem and a newly divorced mother. The book explores family relationships, moral choices, and social responsibility in a way that is both thought provoking and entertaining.

"I have always written," Jennie says, "even when not being paid to, trying to examine the universal story through a personal lens....Reading was my salvation as a kid, and now, writing is."

Jennie teaches writers workshops and also volunteers with kids through 826 Seattle, an offshoot of San Francisco's 826 Valencia, an organization founded by Dave Eggers to help kids learn to write better. When she's not teaching or volunteering or writing, she occasionally records music with her husband, whom she met through their shared love of music, in their home studio.

She is also a founding member of, a collective of Northwest writers devoted to raising funds for community literacy projects and raising awareness of Northwest literature. Erica is also a member of Seattle7Writers, as is Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, who read here last year.

We hope you will join us to hear Erica and Jennie read from their respective novels, The School of Essential Ingredients and When She Flew. The festivities begin at 7 pm!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Author of Massacred for Gold Tonight

On May 25, 1887, at least 34 men were robbed and killed on the Oregon side of Hell's Canyon. You probably have never heard of this massacre, because scant attention was paid to it at the time, and it was subsequently buried by authorities and the community. The reason this mass murder wasn't received with outrage and action is because the murdered men were Chinese immigrants, working as gold miners. In fact, sadly, we only know the names of eleven of the murdered men.

The killers were a gang of rustlers and schoolboys from northeastern Oregon. Eventually, six of the participants were tried and acquitted, while most -- including the ringleader -- were never caught or brought to justice.

We might not know about this story even now, if it weren't for two people: A Wallowa County clerk, who discovered the documents relating to the crime in an unused safe, and R. Gregory Nokes, who has recently published a book about the event -- a book he spent at least a decade researching.

The result of that reseach is Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hell's Canyon, and tonight Greg Nokes will join us at 7 pm to tell us about his book and the event. Nokes worked for The Associated Press for 25 years and for The Oregonian for 15. He graduated from Willamette University and attended Harvard University as a 1972 Nieman Fellow. He first learned about the discovery of the documents while working as a reporter for The Oregonian, and he wrote about the massacre for the paper in 1995.

But his obsession with the massacre didn't stop there. Nokes wondered why he, someone educated in Oregon schools, had never heard about one of the worst crimes in the state's history. And as he dug into it deeper, all evidence pointed to a massive cover-up extending for more than a century. When he retired from the newspaper in 2003, he was able to devote more time to research and to running down leads, which has resulted in this wonderful and important book.

Barry Lopez describes Nokes's book as "an act of citizenship as much as it is a commendable work of history," a book that describes "a community's willful denial of it's past." Jim Lynch, author of The Highest Tide and Border Songs, says, "This is an important book. Meticulously researched and engagingly written, Massacred for Gold should be required reading in the American West."

We hope you can join us tonight for what is sure to be a fascinating evening with author Greg Nokes.