My new post on WritingtheNorthwest.com, “The Fancydancing Voice of Sherman Alexie,” is a personal reflection on the impact of this important but flawed Northwest writer’s work.
You can read it here.
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.”
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.
Over the past week I’ve put up two new posts on my recently launched WritingtheNorthwest.com website, one by me and one by a former student of mine, David Naimon, the host of the popular podcast Between the Covers.
My post is on a visit Rudyard Kipling made to Oregon in the 1890s, when he fished for salmon on the Clackamas River and visited a salmon cannery. You’ll find what he had to say about each of them by clicking here.
David Naimon’s post talks about the importance of Ursula K. Le Guin‘s connection to the Pacific Northwest (and especially Portland) to the writing of her science fiction classics. You can read that one here.
If you haven’t had a chance yet to check out my new website, WritingtheNorthwest.com, you might find the latest post interesting. It attempts to answer the question of where and what exactly is the “Pacific Northwest.”
The post offers a number of interesting links, including one to the area covered by the culture of the Coast Indian tribes and one to details about the 9.2 earthquake centered in SW Alaska in 1964 that set Seattle’s Space Needle swaying.
Click here to check out the post.
Fishing, ca. 1920, Asahel Curtis, General Subjects Photograph Collection, 1845-2005, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov, accessed: 11-4-21
The photograph here is the illustration for my second post on the new website, WritingtheNorthwest.com. The post is called, “Visions of NW Writing: Nature, Stereotypes and the White Default” and addresses the relative lack of writing by people of color in what we think of as “Northwest writing.”
You can read it by clicking here: