New on WNW: How a Fashion Trend Led to a Bloodbath—And How it Was Stopped

Image courtesy of the Audubon Society.

A new post on WritingtheNorthwest.com looks at the tragic slaughter caused by the late-19th C fashion trend of women wearing feathers and even whole birds on their hats.

Images from the Pacific Standard website.

Focused on Oregon’s beautiful Malheur wildlife refuge, the post is titled, “How a Fashion Trend Led to an Eastern Oregon Bloodbath–and How It Was Stopped.”

A local family with their harvest of swans. Image from the Friends of Malheur website.
Image from the Portland Community College website.

You can read it here: https://writingthenorthwest.com/?p=753

New WritingtheNorthwest.com Post: Portland the Spinster

Image from Clipart Library.

I just posted a new piece on WritingtheNorthwest.com. It’s about a 1917 profile of Portland, Oregon, in the national magazine Collier’s Weekly. Called “Portland the Spinster,” the article suggests the city is run by a handful of conservative FFPs (First Families of Portland) who lord it over the later arrivals.

I love reading other people’s views of places I love, and I had some fun writing about this one. You’ll find my post here.

New WritingtheNorthwest.com Post: My Review of Portland Writer Peter Rock’s PASSERSTHROUGH

The latest post on WritingtheNorthwest.com, my new website dedicated to writing about the Pacific Northwest, is my review of a strange new novel from the always-interesting Portland author Peter Rock. Here’s a part of the review:

In his last two novels—2019’s The Night Swimmers and this year’s Passersthrough (both published by Soho Press)—Rock has used a spare, allusive style to focus closely on a small number of characters in a limited situation while suggesting that there is more going on around them than they or the reader can know, some of it possibly supernatural.

This approach can create a feeling of disorientation, a sense that you’re not understanding something important to the story. But if you release your mind from the need to be certain of everything at every moment, the mood and mystery can take over, allowing you to immerse yourself in Rock’s precise and often beautiful evocations of places, experiences, and sensations.

You can read the whole review here.

My Review of an Engaging New Memoir by a “Coast Salish Punk”

New on WritingtheNorthwest.com: my review of the 2022 memoir RED PAINT: THE ANCESTRAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A COAST SALISH PUNK by Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe, a prime example of a welcome surge in new Indigenous writing.

You can read it here: https://writingthenorthwest.com/?p=588

The Powell’s Books List of 40 Books Set in the Pacific Northwest

Image from the Powell’s Books website

A new post on WritingtheNorthwest.com looks at a list of 40 books set in the Pacific Northwest, compiled by the staff at Powell’s Books.

If you’re looking for a summer read or just to see a range of writing about the Northwest, check it out:

The Powell’s List of 40 Books Set in the Pacific Northwest

My Review of ROUGH HOUSE, a Memoir Set in the Pacific Northwest

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.”

A Unique and Wonderful Book on Traditional Life Along the Columbia River

My latest post on WritingtheNorthwest.com celebrates a unique and wonderful book about the history, customs and daily life of Native American tribes along the Columbia River. Click here to read: “When the River Ran Wild!–Excavating the Memories, Customs and Ways of the Mid-Columbia Tribes.”

Feeling Wild and Lyrical: Jack Kerouac Spends a Night in Seattle

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.