Monday, October 31, 2011

Barbara Roberts to Read from New Memoir

I'm so excited for our reading tomorrow night, when we welcome former Governor Barbara Roberts to Broadway Books to read from her recently published memoir, Up the Capitol Steps: A Woman's March to the Governorship (Oregon State University Press). Governor Roberts has always held a special place in my heart -- not just because she was the first (and thus far only) female governor elected in Oregon -- but because of her commitment to public education, human rights, and environmental management. I am reading her memoir currently, and finding the stories fascinating.

Ms. Roberts was an unlikely candidate to become Oregon's first female governor. Her introduction to politics came as she lobbied for educational rights for children with disabilities, who at that time (1962) had no legal rights to a public education in Oregon. Her first son, Mike was what is now known as autistic. At that time the medical experts told her that she was the cause of her son's problems, that she was what was then called "refrigerator mothers," for their cold, uncaring ways. I can't imagine how hurtful that must have been for a caring, passionate young mother.

Barbara Roberts, a fourth-generation Oregonian, was born in Corvallis and grew up in Sheridan. Her sister, Pat, was born two years later. Her family moved to Southern California in 1940, but moved back to Oregon after the war. "Looking back at World War II, I believe my sense of duty, my commitment to public service, was born during those years. The patriotism of the period was strongly felt."

Roberts was an active kid, participating in Girl Scouts and serving as catcher of the softball team and editor of the high school newspaper. She was a student body officer and cheerleader in high school. "By the time I was a teenager I had little concept of the role of spectator. I was never good on the sidelines. I always loved being part of the parade." She also picked strawberries and green beans to earn money, another area in which she excelled: "I was a driven crop picker. I reasoned if I were going to get up that early and get that dirty, I was going to make some money at it!"

She married while still in high school, but she graduated before moving to live with her husband, who was serving in the military -- as she had promised her parents she would. She and her husband had two sons, Mike and Mark, but divorced after sixteen years of marriage. As a newly divorced single parent, she worked as a bookkeeper at a construction company four days a week and spent one day a week in Salem, lobbying for Senate Bill 699 to give special-needs children the right to an education. Her mentor in the lobbying effort was Senator Frank Roberts. On June 29, 1971, Governor Tom McCall signed Senate Bill 699 into law. On July 29, 1974, she married Frank Roberts.

Roberts lost in her first attempt at running for office -- in 1972 when she ran for a seat on the Parkrose school board. A year later she ran again. This time she won. She later served on the Mt Hood Community College board, served as Frank's legislative assistant, and was appointed to fill the remaining nine-month term of the Multnomah County Commission, after one of the commissioners left before the end of his term. She publicly declared that she would visit every county facility and building in her first two months in office. She soon learned, to her dismay, that in addition to the courthouse, jail, juvenile facility, and elections department that she was aware of, the list also included parks, cemeteries, storage facilities, printing operations, road maintenance buildings, alcohol and drug programs, and a fairgrounds operation -- thirty-nine facilities in all. But she kept her word. "That experience taught me to be better informed before I made big public commitments and promises."

In 1980 she ran unopposed for State Representative in District 17. In her second term, she became Oregon's first woman House majority leader. In 1984 she was elected secretary of state -- the first Democrat elected to that post in 114 years. She was reelected in 1988. In February 1990, she got a very surprising phone call from then Governor Neil Goldschmidt one evening, in which he informed her that he would not be running for reelection. A few days later, Roberts held a press conference in which she announced her candidacy for Governor of Oregon. She won the election, a night that saw three states elect women as governors: Roberts in Oregon, Ann Richards in Texas, and Joan Finney in Kansas.

You'll have to read Barbara's book to get the details on the campaign and on her term as governor. Trust me: it's been a roller coaster ride of good times and challenging times. Currently, Roberts is serving on the Metro Council, completing the term of Robert Liberty, who left to take a position at the University of Oregon. When she completes that commitment, she says she's going back to school to finish her college degree. Yes, she is not one to sit passively on the sidelines!

I hope you can join us tomorrow (Tuesday, November 1st) at 7pm to hear Barbara tell us about her life and political career, as she reads from Up the Capitol Steps: A Woman's March to the Governorship.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Final Week of 30% Discount Special

This is the last week to take advantage of our sale of 30% off of books from three wonderful publishers who just happen to be in our own backyard: Hawthorne Books, Oregon State University Press, and Tin House Books. Come see us and, while you're here, check out the great window display that Kate made -- white picket fence and all -- highlighting some of those books.

We are exceptionally blessed in Portland in a literary way -- a wealth of accomplished, thought-provoking authors, bookstores and literary organizations that host spirited, interesting book-related events, and publishers of all shapes and sizes. Some of the publishers are one-person, one-book outfits; others rival what you'll find in New York City.

In October we've been celebrating three publishers who make their homes by our sides. Together they publish a fabulous array of books, both fiction and nonfiction -- books for all interests and tastes. Their authors include Scott Nadelson, Lidia Yuknavitch, Monica Drake, Brian Doyle, Robin Cody, Barbara Roberts, Gregory Nokes, Scott Sparling, Sarahlee Lawrence, Harriet Fassenfast, and many many more.

This sale offers a great opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping and -- even more exciting -- to explore the works of authors you might not have read before, with minimal risk or financial investment (although given the quality of these publishers, your risk would be minimal anyway).

By the time the kids are out trick-or-treating, this sale will be over, so make sure you end up with a bag of treats for yourself -- literary treats produced in your own backyard!

Monday, October 24, 2011

We Welcome Floyd Skloot Back to BB

Broadway Books is pleased to welcome back one of our favorites, Floyd Skloot, on Tuesday, October 25th, at 7pm. Floyd will be reading from his recently published collection of short stories, Cream of Kohlrabi, published by Tupelo Press. The collection, which gathers sixteen stories from the more than forty he has published since 1976, is his first collection of stories.

Here is what the magazine Publishers Weekly had to say about the collection in its review: "In this breathtaking collection of sixteen intimate stories by award-winning poet, novelist, and memoirist Skloot, characters struggle with their failing bodies and minds--and the ensuing loss of dignity--while demonstrating their will to live. Skloot's humane approach reveals the truth of each character's condition as well as the challenges of everyday life for the sick and aging--all to haunting and powerful effect....Skloot's subtle, vividly descriptive stories allow his characters glimmers of hope and strength amidst the pain. Readers can't help but be moved."

Floyd was born in Brooklyn and moved to Portland in 1984. In 1988 while on a business trip he contracted a virus that targeted his brain. His neurological functions -- memory, balance, reasoning, concentration, etc., were greatly affected, forcing him to learn to live in a whole new way and to completely change his writing process, writing in smaller chunks and fragments and not relying on abstractions or predetermined structure. "Writing has become an act of discovery for me," and Floyd shares that exploration with his readers.

He received his BA in English from Franklin & Marshall College and his MA in English from Southern Illinois University. In 1993 he married Beverly Hallberg -- a painter and fiber artist who has created the artwork for the covers of several of Floyd's books -- and for thirteen years they lived in a cedar yurt in the middle of twenty hilly acres near Amity before moving back to Portland.

Floyd began writing poetry in 1970, fiction in 1975, and essays in 1990. Since that time he has published seven collections of poetry (with another, Close Reading, to be published by Tupelo Press in 2012), four collections of creative nonfiction (the most recent being The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life in 2008), four novels (Patient 002 came out in 2007), and now a collection of short stories. He also co-edited The Best American Science Writing 2011(Harper Collins) with his daughter, Rebecca Skloot, author of the bestselling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

In January 2010, Poets and Writers magazine named Floyd one of the fifty most inspiring authors in the world.  He has contributed to publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Poetry, The Sewanee Review, Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly, Hudson Review, Boulevard, and Southwest Review. His book reviews frequently appear in the Boston Globe, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Harvard Review.

Floyd has received the PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction, three Pushcart Prizes, two Pacific NW Booksellers Book Awards, and two Oregon Book Awards.

The writer Phillip Lopate had this to say about Floyd: "Floyd Skloot has developed into one of the finest essayists we have. His strong, subtle, exquisitely truthful and often very funny writing testifies to an impressive humanity and maturity." Other reviewers offer these descriptions: "A master of the genre." "Floyd Skloot is the Willie Mays of memoirists." "He offers spare sentences that evoke a world." "Skloot's craft is nothing short of masterful."

We hope you can join us tomorrow night for an evening of wonderful storytelling with Floyd Skloot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Signed Habibi and Wildwood Books!

Wow. What a fabulous Wordstock weekend! That was the best festival yet, Greg Netzer -- a perfect swan song as you head off on a new adventure.

We saw lots of old friends and made many new ones. I got to get my picture taken with former governor (and my hero) Barbara Roberts -- who will read here from her new memoir on November 1st. We got to hear a few of the many great writers at the show, and we got to meet a lot of authors who came by to chat. Our booth was perfectly situated across from the McMenamins Stage, around the corner from Ristretto coffee roasters, so we were happy as pigs in mud all weekend.

As a special treat for all of our customers who weren't able to  make it to Wordstock this year, we came back with signed copies of both Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis and the gorgeous graphic novel Habibi by Craig Thompson. These aren't likely to last long, so come get yours now. We can only reserve copies of these books for 24 hours unless we charge your credit card.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

National Book Award Finalists on OPB

This year the twenty finalists for the 62nd National Book Awards will be announced on Oregon Public Broadcasting's morning radio program, Think Out Loud, in front of a live audience (which will include one of our very own.....). Can you believe it? This is huge! The National Book Award finalists, being announced to the world from our own backyard. Wow. Here are the details:

On Wednesday, October 12th, from 9:06 am to 9:59 am PST, OPB's Think Out Loud will broadcast a special National Book Award show from the new Literary Arts Center in Portland, announcing the 2011 finalists in four categories. Listen to the show live on OPB Radio at 91.5 FM or watch the live video stream during the broadcast. They will also be live-blogging the event with regular updates of the announcements, and you can join in on the conversation there. Check out author interviews on OPB's website prior to the broadcast.

Host David Miller will interview guests about the National Book Awards and their experiences as winners, finalists, judges and organizers. This year’s finalists will be announced during the show at the following times: 

9:15 am: Young People's Literature Finalists Announced by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Virginia Euwer Wolff is the author of six novels for young people, including Make Lemonade, winner of the Oregon Book Award for Young Readers, and True Believer, which won the National Book Award in 2001 and was a Printz Award Honor Book. Her most recent book, This Full House (2010), completes her Make Lemonade trilogy.

9:30 am: Poetry Finalists Announced by Vern Rutsala
Vern Rutsala is the author of 12 collections of poetry, including Laments, The Journey Begins, Little-Known Sports, and The Moment's Equation, which was a Finalist for the National Book Award in 2005. He has been the recipient of two NEA grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Juniper Prize, the Oregon Book Award and the Pushcart Prize, among other honors.

9:37 am: Nonfiction Finalists Announced by Sallie Tisdale
Sallie Tisdale was a National Book Award Nonfiction Judge in 2010. She is the author of The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Tales of the Modern Hospital (1986), Harvest Moon: Portrait of a Nursing Home (1987), Talk Dirty to Me: An Intimate History of Sex (1994) and The Best Thing I Ever Tasted: The Secret of Food (2000). Tisdale is an editor at Harper's as well as a columnist for the online magazine Salon, and her work frequently appears in Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times Magazine and The Antioch Review. Her most recent book, Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom, was published in 2007.

9:52 am: Fiction Finalists Announced by Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson won the National Book Award in Fiction for Middle Passage in 1990 and was a Fiction Judge in 1999 and 2009. Johnson has written four novels, including Soulcatcher (2001), and has written more than twenty screenplays and numerous reviews and book introductions. His many awards and honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1979), the Writers Guild Award (1985), the Prix Jeunesse Award (1985), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1990), a MacArthur Fellowship (1998), and the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award (2000).

Winners of the 62nd National Book Awards will be announced in a ceremony and benefit dinner in New York City on November 16th. The event will be hosted by actor, author, and composer John Lithgow. Winners last year were Jaimy Gordon for Lord of Misrule (fiction), Patti Smith for Just Kids (nonfiction), Terrance Hayes for Lighthead (poetry), and Kathryn Erskine for Mockingbird (young people's literature). The 2010 finalists were announced from Flannery O'Connor's childhood home in Savannah, Georgia.

We hope you can tune in tomorrow morning to catch the show! Who do you think should be nominated?? We'll report the results in a blog later this week -- and Roberta can tell us all how much fun she had!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Celebrating 3 Publishers with 30% Off!!

How lucky are we? Sometimes living in Portland feels like winning the lottery (although I wouldn't turn down REAL lottery dollars, if they came knocking). We enjoy gorgeous scenery, friendly people, a large and varied arts community, plenty of delicious food and drink, a world-class transit system (unless you have a cranky baby), a local economy that includes many independent businesses, a thriving outdoor lifestyle -- the list of treasures to be grateful for is endless.

We are also exceptionally blessed in the literary department, with a wealth of accomplished, thought-provoking authors and a spirited, knowledgeable literary community that includes author readings at bookstores, Wordstock -- a fabulous annual literary festival that just happens to be this weekend and is chock-a-block full of wonderful authors from near and far, the Portland Arts and Lectures series (and many more programs of Literary Arts), and lots more. We are especially blessed with a wide array of world-class publishers located in the region. This month we are celebrating three of those publishers with a special promotion, offering 30% off their books through the month of October*.

Hawthorne Books and Literary Arts, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, focuses on literary fiction and narrative non-fiction, promoting emerging writers, cultivating notable literary figures, and presenting international voices as well.Their authors include Scott Nadelson, Lidia Yuknavitch, Monica Drake, Poe Ballantine, David Rocklin, Tom Spanbauer, and Peter Fogtdal. Publisher Rhonda Hughes lives in Irvington, where she grows heirloom tomatoes in the back yard of Hawthorne’s headquarters. 

Corvallis-based publisher Oregon State University Press, founded in 1961, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. The press’s mission is to contribute to the intellectual, cultural, and social development of Oregon and the West. They strive to publish books that contain ideas and information that otherwise might not find a forum: books that are recognized for their superior scholarship and creativity. OSU authors include Robin Cody, Barbara Roberts (who will be reading from her new memoir here on November 1), Avel Louise Gordly, Brian Doyle (another great FOBB - "friend of Broadway Books" - who will read here from his new collection of short stories on November 3), Gregory Nokes, Don Berry, Evelyn Searle Hess, Ellen Waterston, Stewart Holbrook, and William Stafford.

TinHouse Books, an offshoot of Tin House magazine, is based in Portland and in Brooklyn. Spearheaded by Irvington resident Lee Montgomery, this publisher of literary fiction and nonfiction books issues about a dozen titles a year, and its authors have garnered attention from the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and O, the Oprah magazine. Tin House authors include Scott Sparling, Sarahlee Lawrence, Bernard DeVoto, Harriet Fasenfast, Jim Krusoe, and Katie Arnold-Ratliff.

We hope you will join us this month in celebrating these three publishers and take advantage of our month-long 30% off promotion of their titles. You’ll find their books on display in our window (thanks to Kate, our magical window fairy) and in our store. These three publishers have produced oodles of wonderful books over the years -- more than will fit in the window and store displays -- so you will also find their books throughout the store. Aren't we lucky?!?!

*Just because there always has to be fine print: no pink card punch for these purchases; cannot be combined with other discounts.

My Lucky Reading Streak

I have been on a remarkable lucky streak lately -- at least when it comes to book choices! You know how it is: sometimes you pick up two or three books and start reading, only to realize that none of them is the one you're in the mood for at the moment. It can take a few starts and stops before you find just the right one. Happily for me, I've been in a groove for the past few books, where each one I started reading was just right for me in the moment ("this porridge is just right").

First I read an enchanting debut novel, The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, about two young, gifted magicians competing against each other -- and eventually falling in love -- in an epic, intricate, lifelong competition. The novel is set in a Victorian nocturnal black-and-white circus, Le Cirque des Reves ("The Circus of Dreams"), and it is one of the most elaborate and lusciously depicted backdrops you will find in a novel. As one reviewer wrote, "Morgenstern conjures a setting so intricate and complete that imposing a plot on it feels almost worthy of extra credit." Morgenstern is also a visual artist, and her visions of the world in each circus tent come alive in her writing. It's not a perfect book -- after all, it's a debut novel -- but it is a magical book and world in which to lose yourself, and it bodes well for more deliciousness to come. The audio version of this book is read by Jim Dale, one of the best book narrators in the business. Below you'll find a couple of video clips: the first a trailer for the book (I still can't get used to the idea of trailers for books, but in this case it sort of works for me) and a brief clip of Jim Dale reading the opening lines of The Night Circus. [PS: The copies of this book on our shelves right now are signed by the author.]

Next I picked up the newest book from one of my favorite writers: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, by Alexandra Fuller. In Cocktail Hour, Fuller revisits her upbringing in central Africa, which she first wrote about in her debut memoir, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight. (Fuller unquestionably deserves a prize for great photos and cover photos!) In this version of the story of Fuller's family scraping out a living in the harsh land of then-Rhodesia/now-Zimbabwe, the author focuses less on her own perspective of that life and travels more deeply into her parent's perspective and explores their respective upbringings. As Dominique Browning writes about the two books in The New York Times, "'Dogs' was written in the throes of remembering; 'Cocktail Hour' recaptures the past through reporting....The two memoirs form a fascinating diptych of mirrors, one the reflection of a child's mind, the other of an adult's....Taken together, as they ought to be, the books transport us to a grand landscape of love, loss, longing and reconciliation."

I thoroughly enjoyed Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and have been a big evangelist for the book since its publication; I liked Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness even more. [And as long as I'm on the subject of Alexandra Fuller, let me just put in a plug for her book The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, a heartrending true account of a young man and tragedy on the oil rigs of Wyoming.] Below is a brief video clip of the publisher's publicist describing Cocktail Hour.

I followed up Alexandra Fuller's book with a book from a terrific writer of historical narrative nonfiction, Candice Millard. I'm a big fan of her first book, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, about Teddy Roosevelt and his son Kermit on a harrowing -- and remarkably poorly planned -- exploration of one of the most dangerous rivers on earth, a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon, following his humiliating election defeat in 1921.

Millard's new book, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, tells the story of the assassination of President James A. Garfield, shot four months after his inauguration. But was it the assassin's bullet that killed him? With cameo appearances by Alexander Graham Bell and Joseph Lister, the book "blends science, medicine, and politics in a crime story that grabs tight and it does not let go until the very last page. This is historical reporting at its very best."

Below is a longish (only in today's video-clip universe is a video lasting just under three and a half minutes considered "longish") video clip describing the story told in the book. In it you'll learn more about President Garfield than you probably ever learned in school, and you'll look back enviously on the days when presidential candidates didn't stump endlessly for what feels like eons prior to election day. It might seem like this video clip tells the whole story, so why read the book? But Millard's extensive research and masterful storytelling will keep you turning the pages, even when you know how the story ends.

I hope to continue on this great reading streak -- stay tuned to hear what comes next! As always, when you click on the title links in this posting, you'll be taken to our website where you can read more about each title, including reviews and excerpts. And of course you can order your own copies at the site as well. Here's wishing each of you your own lucky reading streak!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You Won't Believe All the Great New Books!

It's another huge week in the publishing world. Lots of eagerly awaited books out -- some for the first time and some newly in paperback. Here's just a smattering of what we received and shelved yesterday (plus a few that came last week, since I've been sorely remiss in my blogging of late -- copious apologies). If you click on each title it will take you to our website, where you can read more about each book and place an order if you wish. If you want to pick your order up at the store, just select "pay at store" and "pick up at store" as your options. We've got a bunch of wonderful new titles in for younger readers as well -- including a few by local authors -- that I'll be telling you about shortly.

In the nonfiction world, here are some of the hottest new titles:
Here are some of the hot new titles on the fiction list:
Remember that many of the books on our website are also available in Google eBook format, if you prefer to read that way. The eBooks can be read on any eReading device except for the Kindle, since the maker of that device prefers to specify that you only order books from them.