20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 4: Northwest Classics

For the fourth of our posts suggesting twenty essential books for Seattleites, having focused on history, race and place, we now attempt to suggest some writers whose work best characterizes our “regional literature.” In previous posts we’ve already mentioned Richard Hugo and Sherman Alexie, both of whose works certainly belong on this post. Here are some more Northwest classics for your shelf.

With his mischievous, playful tone, Tom Robbins has certainly helped to define our offbeat Northwest style, but when it comes to picking one book for readers new to Robbins, we’re torn. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction are both classic early gonzo Robbins. Then again, Jitterbug Perfume and Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas are both terrific, and set right here in Seattle. In the end, we’ll go with our heart: Still Life With Woodpecker. Why? Maybe it’s the way he writes about blackberries, how they force their way into polite society, engulfing dogs and small children, entwining the legs of virgins and trying to loop themselves over passing clouds. Maybe we’re still a little sweet on the girl who gave us this book in college. Does it really matter? Read it. Continue reading “20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 4: Northwest Classics”

Exquisite prose

There are times when I want a rowdy tumble with poetry – with the sly wit of Billy Collins or the seductive songs of Pablo Neruda. Today, though, I celebrate the prose books that make me breathless with delight at the sheer wizardry of their words.

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler

Adler describes her book as “not a cookbook or a memoir or a story about one person or one thing.” I started this book and immediately wanted to tell everyone I know to read it. By the end of the first chapter, I was making mental lists of people I know who might receive it as a gift. It is a very straightforward, very spare and lovely book about cooking, eating and enjoying the process. It also has turns of phrase that make me want to burrow between the paragraphs and loiter there for hours. Continue reading “Exquisite prose”