New on WritingtheNorthwest.com: my review of Tina Ontiveros’s rough house (Oregon State University Press, 2020), a difficult but moving memoir about growing up in the damp forests of the Pacific Northwest and the dry brown land around The Dalles, Oregon.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Contrary to popular belief, you can sometimes tell a lot about a book by its title. In addition to the double meaning of physical fun and difficult circumstances, it’s significant that rough house is printed in lower case. Ontiveros is shining a light on minor characters whose stories, though filled with poverty and violence, are worth telling—and worth reading—for what they reveal about the hardships many Americans face, as well as how those Americans—especially women, like Ontiveros—find a way forward despite the odds.”
I was pleased to see this important reminder on this young man’s back the other day. It’s a shame, though, that we have to be reminded to be kind to those who might struggle more than we have to. Maybe we should all wear signs that say simply: “Human being. Be kind.”
Jack Kerouac by Tom Palumbo circa 1956
(image from Wikipedia)
There’s a new post on my WritingtheNorthwest.com site: “Feeling Wild and Lyrical: Jack Kerouac Spends a Night in Seattle.” It’s focused on Kerouac’s still-fresh description of Seattle in the summer of 1956, when he passed through on his way to working as a lookout on Desolation Peak in the N. Cascades.
Kerouac, of course, was a friend of Robert Lax, the subject of my book Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax. You’ll find a post here about a letter from him to Lax in which he laid out his thoughts about Christianity and Buddhism.
There are many pages about Kerouac and his friendship with Lax in Pure Act.
Image from aype.com
Two new posts on my WritingtheNorthwest.com site look at the role of writers in creating the myths that brought the Pacific Northwest attention and population growth in the 19th century.
The first one, called “How Writers Helped Shape the Myth of a New Eden,” explores the mythologizing of the Oregon Trail and the Eden at the other end of it, leading to growing settlements in what was called the Oregon Country.
Image from nps.gov
The second one, called “How One Man Made Seattle by Selling It to the World,” examines the role of a man named Erastus Brainerd in marketing Seattle as the Gateway to the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. His before-their-time efforts led to 70,000 of the approximately 100,000 men who traveled to Yukon passing through Seattle, changing the city overnight.
Between rain showers today, I did a very Northwest thing: scraped moss off this roof. I was halfway through when my neighbor came along, looked from one half to the other and said, “Moss–no mas.” Then she walked on.
My mother on her wedding day. Today would have been her 100th birthday. She’s always alive in my .