Mar 052010
 

Pete Fromm and Jess Walter were the guest authors at this month’s Mid-Columbia Literature Festival. These were actually encore performances as both authors participated in the LitFest 2 years ago. Pete Fromm jokingly mentioned that this was the first time a group was ever willing to listen to him a 2nd time.

Pete Fromm

Pete Fromm

Pete Fromm’s latest novel, As Cool As I Am (2003), earned him an unprecedented fourth Pacific Northwest Booksellers Literary Award. Earlier winners were his novel How All This Started (2000), a story collection, Dry Rain (1997), and a memoir Indian Creek Chronicles (1993). Hailed as one of “America’s best-kept literary secrets,” he has published four other story collections, as well as more than 100 stories in magazines. His short story, Dry Rain, was recently made into a film that opened at the 2008 Seattle International Film festival. He lives with his family in Missoula, Montana.

Fromm joked that he did not want to read from his latest novel because he is afraid that he might just repeat the same reading as last time he was was here and, even worse, repeat the same jokes. Instead he read a chapter from his current writing project telling the protagonist’s heroic, yet quixotic struggle against M.S. The story was both hilarious and sad. I am definitely looking forward to reading this book when it comes out.

Jess Walter

Jess Walter

Jess Walter is the award-winning author of five novels and one nonfiction book. His book, The Zero, was a finalist for the National Book Award. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism, and journalism have been widely published in Details, Playboy, Newsweek, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe among many others. Walter also writes screenplays and was the co-author of Christopher Darden’s 1996 bestseller In Contempt.

Walter mentioned that when giving readings in Portland and Seattle, the mention that he is a Spokane Writer has about the same effect as saying one is a Umatilla Ballerina. Spokane is his home though and so, appropriately, he read a short work of his entitled, “Statistical Abstract of My Home Town, Spokane, WA”. It gave many facts about Spokane, most hilarious, starting with the fact that Spokane has more adult men riding child-sized BMX bikes than any other city. These men all wear caps, baseball caps in the summer and stocking caps in the winter, pedaling with their knees up above their ears. Even though he is sure that the Spokane Chamber of Commerce is not thrilled with the picture he paints of Spokane he concludes his statistical story with a very telling point: “Hating the place you are from is just another form of self-loathing”

Definitely was a fun evening with these two authors. They had a natural sense of humor that really clicked with me and the rest of the audience. I hope to get a chance to read some works from each of them. I do see that the Mid-Columbia Library carries both authors.

The next LitFest event is April 20th, featuring Tod Marshall on Poetry. Come if you have a chance!

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