Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us)


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Keynotes, Interviews, and Panels

As much as we adore fiction, a good memoir really has a huge emotional impact on the reader, because it has the benefit of being true unless it's by James Frey, in which case, never mind. Whether it's Maya Angelou or Tina Fey or Barack Obama, everyone has a story to tell, and it's just a pleasure to be invited in.

The memoirists featured range from acclaimed poets to former slaves to humorists to rock stars. Their stories are engrossing, heartbreaking, unbelievable at times, and often hilarious. They're honest and raw, inviting you to chew on their own highly personal experiences as you meditate on your own.

They're just filled with life. With an adaptation of The Glass Castle out on Friday, August 11, there's never been a more appropriate time to delve into, and learn from, the life experiences of another. Book reports are due next week, okay? Clear your schedules for September A college campus is many things: Stimulating, picturesque, teeming with intelligent life.

The real world. It quickly becomes clear that the throng determined to shut the city down—from environmentalists to teamsters to anarchists—are testing the patience of the police, and what started as a peaceful protest is threatening to erupt into violence.

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Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring mixed attention her way. Growing up in the s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters.


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It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ultima watches over him.


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  • She graces him with the courage to face childhood bigotry, diabolical possession, the moral collapse of his brother, and too many violent deaths. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket.

    Sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural

    Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favorite logical detective, Sherlock Holmes. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

    Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do they hold up anymore? Overflowing with energy, humor, and insight, Trout Fishing in America is a pastiche of stories and fragmented reflections.

    The Compelling Memoirs You Have To Read

    If you haven't read this book, pick it up now; this is indeed required reading for anyone with an open mind and a love for literature. It's the deceptively simple story of a terminally ill man's last journey into the Eastern Washington he loves. Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins In this funny, rambling tale about a pair of counterculture roadside attraction operators, Robbins asks: What if Jesus wasn't really resurrected?

    True to form, his first novel explores spirituality while questioning organized religion and social mores through philosophical parables and clever prose. Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter One of the greatest novels published in the '60s, it's a shame this gritty, heartbreaking story about a teenaged orphan set loose on the streets of Portland is so little known.

    Time does have a way of sorting the wheat from the chaff, though. Here's betting Mr. Carpenter's masterpiece will outlast the vast majority of its more popular peers. My Abandonment by Peter Rock Based on a true story, My Abandonment is the tale of a Portland father and his teenage daughter who actually lived for several years in a cave in Forest Park.

    No one knew they were there, but when their story came to light, there was an outcry among the city's residents on behalf of the family. Peter Rock, a writing professor at Portland's Reed College, tells their story in prose at once spare and graceful, and manages to twist the story in a totally different direction than I had anticipated. I did not foresee the surprise at the end; I actually gasped out loud!

    This beautifully written little gem is absolutely perfect! The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie This collection of interconnected stories explore the dreams, passions, contradictions, and heartbreak of being Indian in contemporary America. Bittersweet, poignantly ironic, and at times profoundly humorous, Alexie's writing is passionate and vivid. This is the work of a tremendous literary talent expertly telling the stories of a Northwest too many people refuse to acknowledge.

    Essential reading. It showcases a love of a good yarn and gives a salute to our bustin' bronco past real or imagined. Let 'er buck! Black Hole by Charles Burns Set in suburban Seattle in the s, this graphic novel is the tale of a mysterious plague that has descended on the area's teenagers.

    Burns has a distinctive style, particularly suited to the disturbing stories he tells. While I love all his books, Black Hole is his masterpiece. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey One family of hardheaded loggers goes against the entire town, but there's so much packed into the emotional lives of each character that any plot summary falls far short.

    Required Reading: 40 Books Set in the Pacific Northwest - Powell's Books

    Let's just call it a masterpiece, a whirling conflagration of desires, expectations, disappointments, and family, all colliding in the Oregon rain. You've got to stay on the bounce — and give Kesey's greatest novel yeah, I said it a read! Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith Glaciers is a perfect little jewel of a book. It narrates a single day in the life of Isabel, a something who loves Portland and comfortably inhabits the city.

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    Smith's prose is so evocative — you can hear the clink of the spoon on the glass and taste the honey in the tea. A peaceful, contemplative read. This book is loved by so many readers for a reason. It does what all great fiction does: it gets in your bones and rattles the cage a bit. It also displays some of the most beautiful writing I've encountered about the art of fly fishing, giving even A River Runs through It a run for its money though The River Why is much funnier.

    Boneshaker by Cherie Priest Boneshaker is set in an alternate-history Seattle with deadly zombie gas! Cherie Priest may have returned to the South, but she's certainly left her mark on the Pacific Northwest. I love all of the Clockwork Century books, but Boneshaker is known and loved for a reason.

    But even better is a whole collection. Hoffman is a brilliant Oregon author who is often overlooked and underappreciated. Permeable Borders is a collection about place and family and magic… and if you're lucky, inanimate objects may start talking to you. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn The Binewskis are just the typical Portland family: Traveling carnies Al and Lil Binewski breed their own carnival oddities through drug experimentation and radiation.

    Their children include a boy-fish, conjoined twins, a hunchbacked albino dwarf, and one son without any such talents.

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    Well, the siblings fight, the carnival becomes a cult, and things spiral out of control Okay, maybe it's not all set in the Northwest, but it certainly packs a punch. At once humorous as well as speculative, in this all-too-short collection, July is a roller coaster of emotions. Reading it is like listening to the saddest Morrissey song on repeat while watching old Chris Farley clips. In one word, perfection. Set in a near-future Pacific Northwest sparsely populated after an enormous earthquake, this robot family drama follows the growing pains of Amy and her psychotic clade-type of Stepford wives.

    Artificial Intelligence and its evolution — and mankind's relationship to it — is explored in this fast-paced adventure. A visit to the Virtual Reality Museum of Seattle's Pike Place Market is one of the more interesting stops during Amy's escape from bounty hunters and the government.

    Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us) Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us)
    Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us) Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us)
    Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us) Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us)
    Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us) Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us)
    Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us) Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us)
    Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us) Dead On Writing (The How-To Book for the Dysfunctional in all of us)

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