Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
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!
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?
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
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
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
Thursday, March 18, 2010
- 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
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
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!
Monday, March 15, 2010
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:
Friday, March 12, 2010
- 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 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
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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.