Two Washington Authors Tackle Labor History

Washington State is home to an amazing array of authors. You can spend an entire year reading our writers of fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, poetry, children’s literature, nonfiction and more. Check out the Washington State Book Awards for a glimpse of the range of writers that live, work, or have ties to our region.

Shipyard workers walk off the job in a show of solidarity during the 1919 Seattle General Strike

So, with this rich literary landscape, it still surprises when two Washington authors decide to tackle a similar theme in their recent work. Both Karl Marlantes and Jess Walter have released novels that touch on the IWW aka Wobblies and labor history in our state. What goes around comes around, and the issues of social justice that so many fought for 100 years ago persist and take on new resonance and dimension as more voices and perspectives emerge or are re-discovered. Both Marlantes’ Deep River and Walters’ The Cold Millions (currently a Peak Pick!) dramatize the men and women engaged in the labor movement and the opposition they faced in fighting for worker’s rights.

It wasn’t all strikes. In July 1919, Seattle IWW holds a picnic to raise legal defense funds for its imprisoned leaders.

The IWW started in Chicago in 1905 and “it was the only American union to welcome all workers, including women, immigrants, African Americans and Asians, into the same organization.” The solidarity and strikes the IWW inspired caused quite the commotion and controversy as wealthy capitalists, politicians, and police tried to prevent worker’s rights from advancing. This history forms the backbone of Deep River and The Cold Millions. Continue reading “Two Washington Authors Tackle Labor History”

2020 Adaptations: From Book to Screen

Books are increasingly becoming Hollywood’s most treasured manna–the star-stuff that inspires the year’s buzziest television films and movies. Here are some books and series coming to screens big and small this year:

Let’s start with adaptations with Northwest ties!

Continue reading “2020 Adaptations: From Book to Screen”

2019 Washington State Book Awards finalists!

Congratulations to the finalists for the 2019 Washington State book Awards!  The awards, a program of the Washington Center for the Book, honor outstanding books published by Washington authors in 2018.

Finalists in all eight categories will be honored and winners announced at a ceremony and reception on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Central Library. The event is free and open to all.

Here are the finalists! Continue reading “2019 Washington State Book Awards finalists!”

20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 5 – Tales of the City

Arriving at our fifth and final post suggesting twenty essential Seattle books, after posts highlighting historyraceplace, and Northwest classics, we finish with a handful of novels evocative of our city and its culture.

There are several good mystery series set in Seattle, but when a fictional detective has been on our rain-soaked streets for three decades his casebook offers real perspective. Homicide detective J.P Beamont made his debut in 1985 in J.A. Jance’s Until Proven Guilty, hunting the twisted killer of a young girl while frequenting such vanished local landmarks as the Doghouse. Over twenty titles later, Beaumont still patrols Seattle’s seamy side, most recently in Dance of the Bones. (For readers who prefer a lighter touch, check out G.M. Ford’s classic Who the Hell is Wanda Fuca? starring wisecracking Seattle P.I. Leo Waterman.) Continue reading “20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 5 – Tales of the City”

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”