A Few More New Books From Oregon Authors
Alison Cadbury’s lovely, multilayered memoir Panigyri: A Celebration of Life in a Greek Island Village (Plainview Press, 2008, $18.95) takes decades of her experiences in the Greek village of Naousa on the island of Paros and distills them into a gorgeous, elegaic look at deep friendships, deep ritual and deep traditions. World issues ranging from overfishing to Chernobyl to changes in religion weave into the rich emotional tapestry of the village. Cadbury’s writing, incandescent and dense at the same time, shows the power of careful attention to a rooted but changing culture and place.
Gayle Forman’s Willamette Valley and Portland-based If I Stay (Dutton, $16.99) recounts the hours after a horrific car accident takes the narrator’s family. Mia is a classical cellist, an oddity in her rather more hip (and sometimes hippie) family, and she lives the life of a smart, fairly middle-class Corvallis/Eugene teenager until the accident. The story’s told from her point of view as she decides whether to live through the pain of losing her family or die hoping to see them all again. Family, school and friend memories mix with descriptions of the hospital and the accident. What will Mia decide?
Oregon attorney general John Kroger won the Oregon Book Award for creative nonfiction for Convictions: A Prosecutor’s Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008; $15), which covers Kroger’s time as an assistant U.S. attorney and, promisingly, takes a Joan Didion quote as its epigraph (“We tell ourselves stories in order to live”). The notoriously cranky Kirkus Reviews said of the book, “Kroger’s assessment of the federal prosecutor’s problematic, overly powerful role in the legal system is well-rendered and crisply delivered.”
Rosanne Parry’s well-received first novel, Heart of a Shepherd (Random House Books for Young Readers, $15.99), tells the story of Brother, a reluctant rancher who has to help his grandparents run the family’s eastern Oregon ranch when his father is sent to Iraq. “Brother’s honest voice conveys an emotional terrain as thoughtfully developed as Parry’s evocation of the Western landscape,” said The Horn Book in a starred review.
National Public Radio listeners will recognize Naseem Rakha’s name from her work as a journalist. The Crying Tree (Broadway, $22.95), set in Oregon, is Rakha’s debut as a novelist, and she takes on the death penalty as the central theme. Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, calls the work “a journey you won’t soon forget.”