How many times have you finished a book with the incontrovertible sense that now you know the author? Not only how he or she thinks, but even how he might dress himself or how she might handle an out-of-left-field query. If there's something about becoming familiar with an author by reading their words on a page, imagine seeing them in person.
Somehow, a fiercely intelligent environmental writer like Derrick Jensen becomes approachable when he shows up in a truly god-awful turquoise sweatshirt with an owl design on it. Adrienne Rich's warm voice reverberates in an auditorium full of people who have studied her words for decades. And Kevin Canty, whose short stories can suddenly electrify with the quick heat and startle of ripping a scab, is as laid-back and cool as your favorite beer-drinking young English professor.
This autumn's schedule of author readings, events and lectures offers many such similar experiences, which, when combined with a steaming cup of coffee and the company of good friends, can be some of life's most subtly wonderful experiences.
"What if everyone in Spokane, in both the city and the county, read the same book?" That's the question being posed by the Spokane Public Library, the Spokane County Library District, Auntie's Bookstore, District 81 and the Community Colleges of Spokane as they launch the first ever "Spokane Reads" event this October. Based on similar events across the United States, "Spokane Reads" is an opportunity for an entire community to share the camaraderie of reading the same book and then discussing it in formal and informal settings, culminating in a reading and discussion with the book's author.
Kent Haruf's keenly felt, masterfully written novel Plainsong is Spokane's chosen reading; his observations of life in the fictional rural town of Holt, Colo., will no doubt strike a chord here in the Inland Northwest, with its many small towns and miles of undulating agriculture. Haruf will read in Spokane on Oct. 30, with the details still in the works. For more information, visit www.spokaneisreading.org.
Auntie's, now in its 17th year, was the first Spokane area bookstore to make a regular practice of both showcasing local authors and bringing nationally recognized writers to town. That tradition continues the week of Sept. 12-18 -- we're going Thursday through Wednesday here, which is how we do things here at The Inlander -- when up-and-coming new writer Adrienne Harun reads from her new collection of short fiction, The King of Limbo. Lauded by Richard Russo as a writer who can "see the world at an odd tilt that makes everything appear new," Harun is one of this season's most anticipated events. Also that week is photographer, writer and editor George Bedirian, who presents a new revised edition of his regional photography must-have book Palouse Country (Sept. 18). Rounding out the week are Paul Meyer (signing on Sept. 14 from 11- 1p.m.) and Richard Brodsky, who tells the unusual, true story of being an HIV-positive bisexual man who remains "happily married and the father of three daughters" in Jodi: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (Sept. 12).
The week of Sept. 19-25, we discover that Real People Don't Own Monkeys. WSU veterinarian J. Veronica Kiklevich and her co-author husband Steven Austad intend to tell us all the reasons why (Sept. 19). Seattle author and popular mystery scribe J.A. Jance returns to Auntie's on Sept. 20 to read from her new novel, Partner in Crime. We're intrigued by the sounds of Kristenea M. LaVelle's The Reality Within the Matrix (Sept. 23), a spiritual examination of the futuristic thriller The Matrix, followed by Whitworth College president William Robinson, who reads from Leading from the Middle on Sept. 24.
Speaking of Whitworth faculty, James Waller delves into the psychology and sociology of the evil that men do in Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing on Sept. 30. Also, from Sept. 26-Oct. 2, look for readings by Kent McArthur (Sept. 26), Petrushka Pavlovich (Sept. 27) and Rae Ellen Lee (Oct. 1).
Steve Oliver, author of the off-beat mysteries Moody Gets the Blues and Moody Forever, reads from his new novel, Dead Men, published by his new publishing company, on Oct. 4. The story of the Grand Coulee Dam's contribution to Washington State agriculture is told by Bob Holloway on Oct. 9, finishing up a week that also includes a booksigning by Sandpoint's Claire Elstrun (Oct. 5 from 1-3 pm) and a reading by Allen Morris Jones (Oct. 7).
Vision Quest author Terry Davis returns in support of Mysterious Ways (Oct. 11), the latest in his coming-of-age trilogy, published by EWU Press. Also during the week of Oct. 10-16 is William D. Layman, author of Native River: The Columbia Remembered (Oct. 10) and Donald R. Johnson, author of Legends, Lies and Half Truths (Oct. 15).
One of Auntie's biggest events this fall is Jasmine Paul, who wrote A Girl in Parts while living and working in Hollywood. Paul's young, refreshingly hip voice uplifts this story of a nine-year-old girl whose life with her bartending mother is utterly disrupted by their move to Eastern Washington (Oct. 17). Diane Smith presents the historical novel Pictures from an Expedition on Oct. 18, followed by a booksigning with Steven Hughes (Oct. 9 from 11-1 pm) and Miha Mazzini (who won the Republic of Yugoslavia's Best Novel in 1986) on Oct. 22 and Steffan G. Vanel's astrological take on current world affairs on Oct. 23.
October ends on an appropriately ghoulish note as prominent theater community figures Dorothy Darby Smith and Homer Mason present, along with the South Hill Senior Center Readers Theater Group, a selection of Halloween-themed literary amusements (Oct. 30).
Gregory Spatz, chair of EWU's MFA program, is also a bluegrass fiddler who plays with John Reischmann and the Jaybirds. On Nov. 6, he reads from his new collection of short stories, Wonderful Tricks. Aroutioun Agadjanian discusses The Information God on Nov. 5, preceded on Nov. 1 by Melissa Walker and Living on Wilderness Time.
Popular suspense writer James Thayer comes to the Inland Northwest on Nov. 8 to introduce The Gold Swan. Also that week are Brother Rick Curry, S.J. (Nov. 11), author of The Secrets of Jesuit Soup Making, Richard L. Meister (Nov. 13), author of Meister's Approach to Writing and David Spangler (Nov. 7) with Blessing: the Art and the Practice.
We've long been fans of Claire Rudolf Murphy, whose children's books on life in old Alaska and young adult fiction are skillfully researched and well-presented. On Nov. 15 she reads from the new edition of her classic Northwest picture book, The Prince and the Salmon People, preceded on Nov. 14 by Christian novelist Jane Kirkpatrick and followed on Nov. 20 by Rod Stackleberg and Sally Winkle.
Sara Jorgenson Woodbury, Gina Ochsner and Alvida Merrimann all read the week of Nov. 19-25, and Thanksgiving weekend offers Kevin A. Paglia on Nov. 29, reading from his new novel, Exile, and David Winchester's booksigning on Nov. 30 from 11-1. Local child and family psychology expert Michael Gurian speaks in support of his new book The Soul of the Child on Dec. 2, and author Chris Chester is scheduled for Dec. 3 with Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds.
Acclaimed regional photographer Charles Gurche brings a slide show of photographs from his new book Washington, Wild and Beautiful on Dec. 11 (he will also be on hand to sign copies of the book and editions of his various photography calendars). Earlier in the week, mark your calendars for readings by John Lockhart (Dec. 5), Nadia Reimer (Dec. 6), Sharon A. Ritter (booksigning only, Dec. 7 from 11-1) and Wayne C. MacGregor, Jr. (Dec. 9).
Katherine E. Lowry is the only reader scheduled the week of Dec. 12-18; her Dec. 12 appearance is to share her new inspirational book, Tears of Triumph.
On Dec. 19, Jerry Wennstrom reads from his autobiography, The Inspired Heart, an account of how he left the New York art world behind in order to pursue a more meaningful life in the late 1970s. Finally, Alaskan commercial fisherman Chris White has penned his memoir, Wind, Waves and a Suicidal Boat, which he reads from on Dec. 20.
Bookpeople of Moscow is a lively little hub of literary activity for the Palouse epicenter of Moscow-Pullman and their respective universities. Bookpeople joins forces with the Kenworthy Performing Arts Center in welcoming Sherman Alexie on Sept. 18 for the opening of his directorial debut The Business of Fancydancing. Alexie also reads at the U of I on Sept. 19. On Sept. 23, John Maclean, son of Young Men and Fire author Norman Maclean, reads from his new book Fire on the Mountain. David Matheson, author of Red Thunder, is the featured guest on Sept. 28, followed on Oct. 7 by Aliki Barnstone at WSU.
Robert Boswell's clean, perceptive prose has earned him a reputation as one of today's most interesting authors. The author of Century's Son and Mystery Ride visits the U. of Idaho on Oct. 9. George Bedirian signs copies of Palouse Country on Oct. 19, followed by poet C.G. Hanzlicek on Oct. 23.
Jean Burbich presents her new novel Rodeo Queens on Nov. 1. On Nov. 6, Toi Derricotte is the poet du jour at the U of I, while Jan Tissot shares Kiki on Nov. 13.
Kaufer's welcomes Whitworth psychology professor Dr. James Waller on Sept. 12 to read from and discuss both his new book Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Mass Killing and Genocide and how it pertains to the events of Sept. 11. On Sept. 25, retreat director and author Kay Lindahl presents The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice. William Robinson, president of Whitworth College, offers his unique spin on leadership with Leading from the Middle: The Universal Mission of Heart and Mind. On Oct. 24, Ron Eberley discusses The Unnatural Law of Celibacy.
If you've ever wanted to publish, consider June Cotner's series of workshops scheduled at Children's Corner Bookshop. "How to Write and Get a Children's Book Published," "How to Get Published," "How to Receive a Top-Dollar Advance by Writing an Irresistible Book Proposal," and "Marketing Your Books" are the subjects of her four workshops, Oct. 25-26.
Both Barnes & amp; Noble locations -- at NorthTown and the Valley Mall -- offer a variety of literary happenings, including signings, reading groups, events for children and even romance- and mystery-writing clubs.
EWU has scheduled a return engagement of last fall's enormously well-received Spitfire Tour, which then featured activists Julia Butterfly Hill and John Trudell, the Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra and comedian Andy Dick. This year's Spitfire Tour, which takes place on Nov. 14, is still in the works, but we do know that Moon Zappa, '80s pop icon and daughter of Frank Zappa (what happened to her middle moniker "Unit," we wonder?), is scheduled for sure. Other likely performers could include Exene Cervenka, Tom Tomorrow (no doubt a familiar name to fans of This Modern World) or Perry Farrell. Watch www.spitfiretour.com for further details.
At Whitworth, Dr. James Waller reads and lectures on evil as manifested in terrorism on Oct. 17. The Ada Redmond Lecture Series welcomes Chinese-American author Gus Lee on Nov. 14-15.
And it may not exactly be a lecture, but fans of the Church Lady and dead-on Ross Perot impressions will be treated to a some laughs when comedian Dana Carvey gets in front of the mike at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman on Nov. 2.