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September 25, 2014

Four historical narratives, Russian fatalism and strong ties to his family’s pioneering and Native American heritage drive Howard W. Robertson’s newest work, Peculiar Pioneer. He and several other local writers will be reading from their recent work Sunday, Sept. 28, at the inaugural Lane Writer’s Reading Series event.

July 23, 2014

On a summer day, standing with your toes in the sun-warmed sand of an Oregon beach, you’d be hard pressed to look out across the expanse of the Pacific Ocean and feel anything resembling danger. But out in that ocean, where the water turns from glassy green to dark blue, lurks something powerful — and if you listen maybe you can hear it in the roar of the waves. 

May 22, 2014

In a scene about two-thirds of the way through his debut memoir The Wax Bullet War (Ooligan Press. 2014. $16.95), Sean Davis finds himself standing — hungover and “clouded with drugs”— on a stage at Walker Middle School in Salem, Oregon. Davis, who only months before had been critically injured by an IED attack in Iraq, an attack that also claimed the life of his closest friend, is at the school to share some of his experiences, as well as to generate support for the troops who are still deployed. 

April 17, 2014

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Fast-forward to 2014, when President Barack Obama signed a Farm Bill into law that relaxed some of the restrictions on growing the crop most likely to have been found on a Deadhead. Michelle Obama won’t be growing hemp in her White House Garden any time soon, but the bill allows research institutions and state departments of agriculture to grow hemp in states where pro-hemp legislation has already been enacted. Oregon is one of those states. 

April 17, 2014

“I couldn’t believe how stupid I was,” writes comedian Moshe Kasher in his new memoir Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16 (allusions to the Salinger teen-angst classic fully intended). Kasher brings his act to WOW Hall April 17.

“It seemed like, in the face of the most obvious answers in the world,” he continues, “I always chose the dumbest thing to do. It was like I wasn’t in control of my own brain.” 

April 17, 2014

Everyone’s heard of drinking games; they’re old news, man. In this hiptastic new time, with dispensary lines around the corner and even squares lighting up, weed steps closer and closer to social acceptability with each passing year. 

April 10, 2014

In Eugene, we’re used to weird. In some neighborhoods, shooting a politically charged, hardcore punk music video in public would solicit no more than a passing glance. Doing it uninvited in a local church, as Russian feminist performance art collective Pussy Riot did in 2012, might be a trespass leading to a hand-slap, but not much more than a nuisance or prank.

January 2, 2014

There’s a lot of B.S. in Morrissey’s Autobiography (Penguin/Putnam, $30): It’s self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing, self-mythologizing, full of melodramatic humor and humorous melodrama. If The Queen is “the royal we,” then Morrissey is “the royal me.” If this surprises you, I respond: “I see you’re unfamiliar with Morrissey.”  

October 17, 2013

Journalist Robert K. Elder has authored one of those cool, catch-all books about the movies that should appeal to film fans of every stripe and persuasion. The Best Films You’ve Never Seen compiles interviews with directors defending their favorite overlooked or critically dismissed films. Elder, editor-in-chief for Chicago Sun-Times Media Local, calls such films “outcast classics.”

September 19, 2013

The first person who waxed eloquent over Oregon author Brian Doyle’s Mink River (Oregon State University Press, $18.95) was a sportswriter for the Salt Lake Tribune. The second was a lovely woman I met at recent Planned Parenthood fundraiser who had read it with her book club. Doyle’s lovely Pacific Northwest tale with drops of magical realism appeals to people from all walks of life. The author of this novel, which The Oregonian called “shimmering” when it came out in 2010, will be at the downtown Eugene Public Library 2 pm Sunday, Sept.

August 8, 2013

I was definitely a complete nerd. I sat at the lunch table alone and got picked last for P.E., but books saved my life,” says Cidney Swanson, local novelist for young adult audiences and traveling speaker/educator. Swanson will host “Character Building: The Viscera of Young Adult Fiction,” Friday, Aug. 9 as part of Wordcrafters in Eugene’s ongoing program to teach the essentials of fiction writing.

July 25, 2013

Living in seemingly effortless harmony, a Marin County, Calif., couple and their three children are in for a rude awakening. Is an untold truth a lie? Mermaid Drowning (Autumn Moon Books, 355 pages. $14.99) is the story of a secret that shouldn’t matter — but does.

Equally sentimental and riveting, the appropriately titled novel, which could easily be the love child of Danielle Steel and Stieg Larsson, is in fact penned by Eugene husband-and-wife author team Terry and Tiffany Jacobs.

July 18, 2013

Graphic the Valley (Tyrus Books, 271 pages. $16.95), a first novel by South Eugene High School teacher Peter Brown Hoffmeister, is an ambitious and complicated read. The book draws together rock climbing, an attempt to correct the wrongs done to Native American history in Yosemite National Park, a Samson and Delilah tale, eco-sabotage and the tragedy of what man does to nature. 

July 3, 2013

Anybody out there in this youth-obsessed USA who wants to read yet another word about aging?

Or, if we really are youth-obsessed, maybe we want to learn everything we can to slow the march away from youngness?

That was Lauren Kessler’s gamble when she wrote Counterclockwise: One Midlife Woman’s Quest to Turn Back the Hands of Time (Rodale, 256 pages. $24.99). At the same time her seventh book of narrative nonfiction hit the market in the spring, Parade magazine, that popular panderer, featured a “Special Report on the Youth Hormone.” Yet another!

June 27, 2013

Chick-lit light with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and some love advice from the Bard thrown in, that’s Elizabeth the First Wife (Prospect Park, $15.95). Elizabeth Lancaster is a single community college instructor with a sexy, famous ex-husband and a Skype flirtation with a political campaigner. Author Lian Dolan (you might know her name from the Satellite Sisters podcast that’s been on NPR and ABC radio) tosses in a Nobel Laureate father, a need for home redecorating and a dog to pretty much guarantee something that everyone can relate to.

June 20, 2013

A failed plan to bring nuclear power to the “earthquake-free” Northwest led instead to the discovery that our region is due for a massive temblor. The Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS, aka “whoops”) nuclear power project, largely failed in the 1980s, but before it crashed, it led to the research uncovering that Oregon and Washington are actually on a seismic hot spot.

April 18, 2013

The first time she pulled weeds out of someone’s yard in Portland and made them into a salad, Rebecca Lerner didn’t much like them, saying they had “an unpleasant texture that suggested I was eating lawn clippings.” For five days she boiled slugs, made nettle broth and munched burdock root. She wound up not eating the slugs, she writes in her book, Dandelion Hunter: Foraging the Urban Wilderness, after “their skin turned white and their guts burst out in green goo.”

February 28, 2013

The opening chapter of The Missing Italian Girl plays out like a scene from a Merchant Ivory film; the year is 1897, the city is Paris and three shrouded figures dodge the ghoulish cast of gas lamps near the Gare de l’Est as they bring a special (and posthumous) delivery to one of the city’s dumping waters, the Basin de La Villette. In the city of lights, on a warm summer night at the turn of the century, the trio is taking a great risk.

February 21, 2013

The work of illustrator and graphic novelist Elizabeth Blue might best be described as “Southern Gothic.” Her approach incorporates themes of romance, crime, fairy tales and family relationships to fashion compelling visual narratives.

January 24, 2013

History buff Jack Radey never intended to write a book about WWII, but that’s exactly what he ended up doing. On Jan. 27, Radey and coauthor Charles Sharp will present their book The Defense of Moscow 1941 at Tsunami Books, where they will discuss their new historical discoveries regarding a pivotal battle between the Germans and the Soviets. 

November 7, 2012

Eliot Treichel calls Eugene home but he misses Wisconsin, and his debut collection of short stories, Close Is Fine, is a tribute to his home state. “It’s where I grew up,” Treichel says. “I wanted to understand it. I guess I started to miss it once I left. I was working on all the stories together to be a book.” And nostalgia for home permeates Close Is Fine, focused mainly on rural areas of the state and the characters that inhabit them.

October 24, 2012

Eugene will soon be graced with the presence of an author so clever, elaborate and terrifying that he has channeled his talents into writing some of the most interesting and “obstinately obscure” books you’ll ever read. Dale Basye, an author from Portland, will be a featured speaker at the Young Writers Association (YWA) Scare-A-Thon FUNdraiser on Saturday, Oct. 27. Basye will be reading excerpts from his Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go book series. 

May 31, 2012

In the age of the quick fix and pop-up porn, you gotta hand it to E.L. James for hoodwinking the hoi polloi into dicking around with something as atavistic and temperate as on-the-page erotica. Fifty Shades of Grey — the first installment in a trilogy of erotic novels that started online as Twilight fanfiction — sold more than 10 million copies in six weeks in the U.S. alone. This, despite repeated assaults by high-brow literary critics as well as pop sexpert Dr.

May 31, 2012

Well-written literary junk food is a fantastic palate cleanser for people whose job it is to read a lot of nonfiction. When you throw sex into the mix — especially forbidden sex — you’ve got entertainment plus the antidote to becoming a snob who wants to look down on whatever is trendy in popular literature.