|October 2016 Staff Reviews, Halloween Books, Readings, Poetry, and More!
We hope you enjoy these new additions to our Staff Favorites table. Plus, check out the great author readings coming up and see our roundup of the latest books from our Poetry section.
New Staff Reviews
|Here are three new Staff Favorites:
Today Will Be Different
by Maria Semple
review by Sharon
Eleanor Flood knows she is often disorganized and self-absorbed, so today she is determined to be a better person, to give to the people in her life the attention, gratitude and love that they deserve. But events seem to conspire against her, and despite her best intentions the day spirals out of control faster than you can say, "I know... right?" In Today Will Be Different Maria Semple has brought us another imperfect but lovable and zany character that we can't help rooting for as she grapples to accept certain aspects of her life, and she is blindsided by the fact that her husband has taken a one-week "vacation" from work that she knew nothing about. Fans of Where'd You Go, Bernadette will welcome the return of Semple's singular sense of humor and her unique combination of sensitivity and funniness that kept me turning the pages.
The Voices Within
by Charles Fernyhough
reviewed by Andy
This is an interesting book about something that is so common, so quotidian, and so useful that we overlook it: inner speech. Charles Fernyhough details his own "dialogic theory" of inner speech, which posits that we have silent conversations that take place in our heads with "virtual" partners of our own creation. All of us may have distinct, different conversation partners (the Faithful Friend, the Proud Rival, etc.), each of whom serve a different pragmatic purpose, which quite often involves planning. This ability to juggle many virtual perspectives is also something that is key for creativity. His chapters on reading to yourself and having linguistic interactions with characters while writing novels are fascinating. Fernyhough and many colleagues are also putting their research into the service of destigmatizing and alleviating the symptoms associated with "voice hearing" that have often fallen under the now very problematic label of schizophrenia. Fernyhough refreshingly supports a pluralistic view of inner speech. He gives the reductive theory he has been working on and makes room for other theories that, in the end, each have something to contribute to our understanding of this very complex and still (by his own admission) poorly understood phenomenon.
We Gon' Be Alright
by Jeff Chang
reviewed by Matthew
A timely work, Jeff Chang's new book looks at the myths perpetrated in our so-called "post-racial" society. With devastating clarity, Chang traces the recent wave of re-segregation and examines the impact these events have had on the racial divide in the US. Beginning with an insightful chapter on the differences between diversity and equality, We Gon' Be Alight covers everything from modern day redlining to the Oscars to recent student and social movements. Throughout the book, Chang reviews the ways in which we deceive ourselves when it comes to racial equality in the United States and asks his readers to look for avenues to build a more equitable country for everyone, starting by looking honestly at our current situation.
Authors Coming in October & November
Monday, October 17, 7pm
is a collection of linked short stories that delights and exploits the language and paraphernalia of industrial Hollywood. The collection delves into a night at the movies, featuring all the familiar types the rom-com, the action-adventure, the superhero and the spy but the narratives are still under construction, and every story line is an opportunity for the unimaginable twist. Motive and identity are constantly shifting in these short stories that offer both narrative and anti-narrative, while the stunted shoptalk of the movie business struggles to keep up.
The Best Worst Thing
Wednesday, October 19, 7pm
Portland author Kathleen Lane reads from her debut middle-grade novel, The Best Worst Thing
. Maggie is worried. Ever since she started middle school, she sees injustice and danger everywhere--on the news, in her textbooks, in her own neighborhood. Even her best friend seems to be changing. Maggie believes it is up to her, and only her, to make everything all right. Can she come up with a plan to keep everyone safe? The Best Worst Thing
is a perceptive novel about learning the limits of what you can control, and the good--sometimes even best--things that can come of finally letting go.
Claire Rudy Foster
I've Never Done This Before
Monday, October 24, 7pm
Portland author Claire Rudy Foster's I've Never Done This Before
is a vivid is a gritty collection of short stories that investigate the effects of addiction on a diverse cast of characters. From a woman grappling with the end of her marriage to her porn addicted husband, to a retired Hell's Angel, to a heroin addicted escort getting a second chance at the high life, these stories explore a vast range of experiences, voices, and themes. Foster has created a collection that is moving and raw, a must read for literary fiction lovers. Includes seven hauntingly gorgeous illustrations by Aaron Lee Perry.
Brian Doyle and Jamie Duclos-Yourdon
Wednesday, October 26, 7pm
Oregon author Brian Doyle's The Mighty Currawongs
is a collection of headlong tales, exploring such riveting and peculiar topics as chess in the Levant, tailors who specialize in holes, how to report stigmata to your attending physician, the intense hilarity of basketball, how to have a bitter verbal marital fight in your car, an all-Chinese football team in Australia, and others.
, the debut novel from Portland author Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, is a fabulist adventure novel set in a reimagined nineteenth-century Pacific Northwest. When Froelich disappears from the fourth-tallest ladder in the world, his nephew's quest to find him interlaces with the journeys of two spunky young women who outwit their guardians. This fairy-tale twist on the American dream explores the conflict between loyalty and ambition, and the need for connection, even at the highest rungs.
Therese Oneill with Laurie Notaro
Tuesday, November 1, 7pm
, Therese Oneill opens the doors to everything we secretly wanted to know about the Victorian era, but didn't think to ask. Knickers with no crotches? Check. Arsenic as a facial scrub? Check. The infrequency of bathing and the stench of the Victorian human body? Check mate.
Crossing the Horizon
, Laurie Notaro's stunning historical novel, tells the true, little-known story of three aviatrixes in a race to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. The year is 1927, and Amelia Earhart has not yet made her record-breaking cross-Atlantic flight. Who will follow in Charles Lindbergh's footsteps and make her own history?
Journey to Wizards' Keep
Thursday, November 3, 7pm
Portland author KC Cowan reads from Journey to Wizards' Keep
, the young adult fantasy novel she and her coauthors began writing together in college in 1978. Best friends Nan and Irene want what all 16-year-old girls in their village want--to find true love and marry. Instead, they're going to have to defeat an evil wizard. Journey to Wizards' Keep
is a non-stop thrilling adventure with romance and humor, as three girls with very different personalities join together to save the land.
Monday, November 7, 7pm
The Portland author will read from his biography of Inga Arvad, who was the great love of President John F. Kennedy's life, and also Adolf Hitler's special guest at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. She was an actress, a foreign correspondent, a popular Washington columnist, an explorer who lived among a tribe of headhunters, one of Hollywood's most influential gossip columnists, and a suspected Nazi spy. She was a genius with people, she was daring and adventurous, and she was their equal in intellect. Inga Arvad led a life that both sheds light on and defies the stereotypes of women of her time.
Reading from City of Weird
Monday, November 14, 7pm
Edited by local graphic designer and writer Gigi Little, and published by Southwest Portland's own Forest Avenue Press, City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales
conjures what we fear: death, darkness, ghosts. Hungry sea monsters and alien slime molds. Blood drinkers and game show hosts. Set in Portland, Oregon, these thirty original stories blend imagination, literary writing, and pop culture into a cohesive weirdness that honors the city's personality, its bookstores and bridges and solo volcano, as well as the tradition of sci-fi pulp magazines.
Having Everything Right
Wednesday, November 16, 7pm
Portland author Kim Stafford joins us for the 30th Anniversary Edition of his essay collection. He'll be joined by Robert Michael Pyle, who wrote the introduction. Having Everything Right
revolves around the history, folklore, and physical beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Stafford writes poetic and evocative prose as he reflects on such subjects as Indian place names, bears, and local eccentrics.
The Phantom of Thomas Hardy
Thursday, November 17, 7pm
On a visit to Dorchester, England, Thomas Hardy's phantom--or is he just a figment of Floyd Skloot's oddly damaged brain?--tasks Floyd with finding out what Hardy missed in love. Floyd and his wife, Beverly, set out to discover what they can, visiting Hardy's birthplace, home, and grave, exploring the Dorset landscape and the famous novels with their themes of tormented love, and meeting characters deeply invested in Hardy's life and reputation.
New in Poetry
Here are some of the latest releases from the world of Poetry:
by Mary Oliver
In this collection of essays, beloved poet Mary Oliver reflects on her willingness, as a young child and as an adult, to lose herself within the beauty and mysteries of both the natural world and the world of literature. Emphasizing the significance of her childhood friend Walt Whitman, through whose work she first understood that a poem is a temple. Throughout this collection, Oliver positions not just herself upstream but us as well as she encourages us all to keep moving, to lose ourselves in the awe of the unknown, and to give power and time to the creative and whimsical urges that live within us.
The Rain in Portugal
by Billy Collins
From former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins comes a twelfth collection of poetry offering nearly fifty new poems that shed ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. A student of the everyday, here Collins contemplates a weather vane, a still life painting, the calendar, and a child lost at a beach. His imaginative fabrications have Shakespeare flying comfortably in first class and Keith Richards supporting the globe on his head. By turns entertaining, engaging, and enlightening, The Rain in Portugal amounts to another chorus of poems from one of the most respected and familiar voices in the world of American poetry.
Roots of the Earth
by Wendell Berry & Wesley Bates
Counterpoint Press is reproducing Roots of the Earth
in trade paperback. This collaborative work features the writings of Wendell Berry and the woodblock etchings of Wesley Bates.This edition is expanded with the inclusion of a short story, "The Branch Way of Doing," and additional engravings. In his introduction, Bates writes: As our society moves toward urbanization, the majority of the population views agriculture from an increasingly detached position. In his poetry, Berry reveals tenderness and love as well as anger and uncertainty The wood engravings in this collection are intended to be companion pieces to the way he expresses what it is to be a farmer.
by Amy Minato
is a new collection from Portland poet Amy Minato. As Kim Stafford writes: "In these days we can feel orphaned from mother Earth, blocked by digital toys from the old true play of cell and spirit, but by good fortune we have the lens of Amy Minato's poetry to find our way back to right relation. Because her poems are compact and finely tuned, they will fit in your life as jewels of song."
by John Sibley Williams
A lyrical, philosophical, and tender exploration of the various voices of grief, including those of the broken, the healing, the son-become-father, and the dead, John Sibley Williams's Disinheritance
acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of a world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into "this amalgam of real / and fabled light," these poems inhabit an unsteady betweenness, where ghosts can be more real than the flesh and blood of one's own hands.