October 2016 News, Reviews, and Events

News

The Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library announces the finalists in eight categories for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards for outstanding books published by Washington authors in 2015. Congratulations to our finalists Ana Maria Spagna (Reclaimers; Biography/Memoir) and Ruth Kirk (Ozette; History/General Nonfiction). The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 8, 2016. Emcee for the evening is Frances McCue, twice a UW Press finalist for a WSBA (in 2011 for The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs and in 2015 for Mary Randlett Portraits). The awards celebration is free and open to the public.

University of Washington Press shares in the remembrance of Sarah Reichard, who died suddenly in her sleep on August 29, 2016. Dr. Reichard directed the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, was coeditor of Invasive Species of the Pacific Northwest, and advised UW Press on other projects. Read obituaries and details on the October 13th memorial celebration in the Seattle Times and Offshoots (blog of the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences).

Reviews and Interviews

Michael Upchurch reviews Looking for Betty MacDonald by Paula Becker in the Seattle Times: “The Egg and I, The Plague and I and Anybody Can Do Anything practically cavort off the page. How did [Betty MacDonald] do it? Seattle author Paula Becker has some answers in her compact, finely crafted biography.”

Lory Widmer Hess reviews the biography on her Emerald City Book Review blog: “I was delighted to explore MacDonald’s life and work through Paula Becker’s thoughtful, painstakingly researched biography, and even more thrilled to see that University of Washington Press is going to be reprinting three hard-to-find later works by the bestselling author of The Egg and I: Anybody Can Do Anything, The Plague and I, and Onions in the Stew. . . . If you’re not a MacDonald enthusiast, you will be soon. . . . We can be grateful that Becker has preserved it for us in words, and has given us valuable insights into her world, her books, her family, and the writer herself.”

Barbara McMichael reviews in the Kitsap Sun: “The pages zing with unexpected detail and nuggets of lacerating wit. . . If you’re Looking for Betty MacDonald, you need look no further.” Paula’s other book (The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition) and the MacDonald reissues (The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, and Onions in the Stew) also get mentions.

Steve Donoghue reviews the books at Open Letters Monthly: “A smart and immensely readable portrait, taking readers through MacDonald’s life. . . . Becker has combed every interview and profile, and her book veritably glows with MacDonald’s recaptured wit. . . . Thanks to Paula Becker’s exhaustive research and the compassionate, standard-setting book she’s shaped out of it, 21st century readers can meet a much fuller and more fascinating version of that complex, challenging, laughing woman. Readers of her books will still want to thank her, but thanks to Looking for Betty MacDonald, they’ll know her much better.” The Plague and I (“improbably funny. . . equally remarkable”) and Anybody Can Do Anything (“again improbably funny”) also get mentions.

Bainbridge Community Broadcasting’s “What’s Up Bainbridge” host Wendy Wallace speaks with Paula Becker about the biography and reissues.
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Q&A with ‘The Deepest Roots’ author Kathleen Alcalá

In The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, Kathleen Alcalá combines memoir, historical records, and powerful interviews in a charming and timely book that uses Bainbridge Island as a case study for thinking about our relationships with the land and each other. Alcalá meets Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II, and learns the unique histories of the blended Filipino and Native American community, the fishing practices of the descendants of Croatian immigrants, and the Suquamish elder who shares with her the food legacy of the island itself. We spoke with Alcalá about the book, publishing this fall.

Join us for these events:

October 13 at 7:30 p.m. // Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island Museum of Art auditorium, Bainbridge Island, WA

October 19 at 7:30 p.m. // University Book Store, University District

October 20 at 7 p.m. // Third Place Books-Lake Forest Park

October 27 at 7 p.m. // Hispanic Roundtable of South Sound at South Puget Sound Community College, Latino Youth Summit, Olympia, WA

November 2 at 5:30 p.m. // The Butcher’s Table, “50 Minutes with…” speaker series with University Book Store (2121 Westlake Ave., Seattle)

November 3 at 7 p.m.  // Village Books, Bellingham

November 10 at 6:30 p.m. // Book Larder, Fremont

November 19 from 3-5 p.m. // Seattle7 Holiday Bookfest, Phinney Ridge

December 2 at 7 p.m. // Tattered Cover Book Store, Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO

January 10 at 7 p.m. // Elliott Bay Book Company, Capitol Hill

What inspired you to write The Deepest Roots?

Kathleen Alcalá: In 2010, I wrote an essay about two couples I knew who left other jobs to go into farming. It turned out, each had a fascinating story and philosophy of life to go with that decision. Readers reacted so strongly, I realized I had touched on something fundamental, our relationship to the land, and how people yearn to strengthen that relationship. As a writer of historical, family-based fiction and essays, this was a topic about which I knew zilch. I thought. Then I realized that this was the basis of that family history: our relationship to the land. Understanding this is so important to our survival, and the survival of this island in particular, that I decided to pursue the topic with further interviews and research.

What would you have been if not a writer?

KA: Perhaps an architect, if I had the skills. I am a very visual thinker. I’m very interested in how people relate to their environment through built, or human-made intervention. Architecture is a form of shelter, but how close or how distant it keeps us from nature fascinates me. What the wealthy think they need versus what 90% of the world lives with is also interesting to me, in terms of the built environment. As resources become scarce, or we realize how toxic many of them are, we need to rethink how and where we live and build, so I guess there is some overlap here.

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Excerpt: Bracero Railroaders: The Forgotten World War II Story of Mexican Workers in the U.S. West

This National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we wanted to share a selection from Erasmo Gamboa’s book Bracero Railroaders: The Forgotten World War II Story of Mexican Workers in the U.S. West, for a close-up look at the contributions of Hispanic and Latina/o Americans to the United States. The bracero program is better known for its contributions to agriculture, but there was another industry that benefited from bracero labor—the railroad. Over three hundred thousand Mexican laborers did unskilled “pick and shovel” work in isolated places to maintain the railroad tracks during World War II. While the men, who came to the United States as braceros, dealt with onerous regulations, indifferent or racist supervisors, unsuitable living conditions, and an unfamiliar culture and environment, the women they left behind also had their share of struggles. These women—wives, mothers, and sisters—had to navigate bureaucracies in the railroad companies and in both the Mexican and U.S. governments to advocate for themselves and the braceros.

Most historians have overlooked the manner in which women in México acted on behalf of their loved ones working temporarily in the United States. Unlike the case of Bahamian and Newfoundlander women and children who were permitted to accompany contracted workers to the U.S., the War Manpower Commission (WMC) never considered allowing Mexican spouses or female members to accompany the braceros.[1] Brothers and sons, however, did serve as braceros, and in some instances they were assigned to work together.[2] The role of women in México in support of the braceros and the war deserves to be highlighted.

From the start of the bracero railroad program in México City, the WMC made note of the scores of women eagerly volunteering with the hope of joining the labor force soon leaving for the United States.[3] They were not attempting to take advantage of the opportunity for employment, as that opportunity rested with men, but they stepped forward wanting to do their part in the war effort. This level of gender consciousness prevailed in México stretching back before the Revolution of 1910, the Cristero Wars, and through the Great Depression of the 1930s. During the Depression, women organized the Frente Único Pro Derechos de la Mujer to represent the economic and political concerns of working-, middle-, and upper-class women in México. With the outbreak of World War II, the Frente Único Pro Derechos de la Mujer became the Coordinating Committee of Women in Defense of the Fatherland (Comité Coordinador Femenino para la Defensa de la Patria).[4] The role of women in national defense stretched far beyond this one organization. The Central Committee for the Civil Defense of México City and the Defense League of Women organized women to come to the defense of the city during the war. Nurses volunteered to act as first responders in case of Japanese or German attacks, while other women trained to enforce emergency blackouts, manning search lights in case of aerial attacks. Women, as they did in the United States during the way, prepared to respond to any wartime emergency and do their part in the overall national war effort.[5] Continue reading

Behind the Covers: “Looking for Betty MacDonald” and Three New Editions . . .

macdonald-book-3dPaula Becker‘s Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first comprehensive biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona. In this guest post, designer Thomas Eykemans discusses the process of creating the cover in collaboration with the author and Seattle artist Tom DesLongchamp. He also shares the creation of the covers of three new editions of Betty’s memoirs, Anybody Can Do Anything, The Plague and I, and Onions in the Stew.

There are a million photographs of Betty MacDonald and any one of them could have made a great book cover. The portrait of a beaming bang-free Betty (below, lower left) was inset on many of the covers of her books when they were first published, and Paula describes how this particular image of her was perhaps the most familiar. Regarding The Egg and I:

After only a few months, Lippincott moved Betty’s appealing head shot from the back cover to the front, ditching Bennett’s art. For her readers, the merry pinup-girl author and the yarn she spun were indivisible. From this point on, Egg branded Betty, and Betty branded Egg.

macdonald-portraits

Various photographs of Betty MacDonald.

Despite their prevalence, a photo of Betty seemed too static for a biography about her, and definitely too black and white. Her rich life, warm personality, and merrily snarky attitude required something more energetic and colorful. Tom DesLongchamp is a Seattle-based artist and illustrator whose imaginative style is perfect for the challenge.

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September 2016 News, Reviews, and Events

News

Congratulations to Sylvanna M. Falcón, winner of the National Women’s Studies Association 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize for Power Interrupted, selected “for its clear writing, as well as its adept integration of intersectional and transnational analyses to assess the grassroots feminist work that employs international frameworks when addressing gender and racial issues through the global stage that the UN provides.”

Reviews and Interviews

David Takami reviews Judy Bentley’s Walking Washington’s History in the Seattle Times: “Coming soon to a city near you: clusters of visitors gazing intently at a handheld object as a way to engage with their surroundings. . . . The commendable new book by Judy Bentley. . . . is an immensely appealing approach to writing history. . . . Bentley demonstrates that history is not abstruse and remote from our current experience; it is ever present—and just around the next corner.“

Christian Martin reviews the book on the Chattermarks blog from North Cascades Institute: “Bentley provides brief but engaging historical overviews. . . . There are stories in the ground beneath our feet, dashed dreams lingering in the air, as well as legacies of benevolent forethought from a not-so-distant past all around us.”


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Exhibitions on View: ‘Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’

Acme Photo Diego and Frida in NYC 1933 gelatin silver print 22.9 x 17.8 cm Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc ***This image may only be used in conjunction with editorial coverage of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection 25 Jun-9 Oct 2016, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This image may not be cropped or overwritten. Prior approval in writing required for use as a cover. Caption details must accompany reproduction of the image. *** Media contact: Hannah.McKissock-Davis@ag.nsw.go.au *** Local Caption *** ***This image may only be used in conjunction with editorial coverage of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection 25 Jun-9 Oct 2016, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This image may not be cropped or overwritten. Prior approval in writing required for use as a cover. Caption details must accompany reproduction of the image. *** Media contact: Hannah.McKissock-Davis@ag.nsw.go.au

Acme Photo
Diego and Frida in NYC 1933
gelatin silver print
22.9 x 17.8 cm
Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc

We are delighted to distribute the catalog to accompany the exhibition, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: From the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, for the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The exhibition is now on view at AGNSW and has been extended until October 23, 2016 due to popular demand.

After the exhibition closes in Sydney, it will travel to the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona from April 9 – August 20, 2017.

Leading twentieth-century Mexican artists Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) and Diego Rivera (1886-1957) were internationally acclaimed in their lifetime, and their art and lives have continued to provoke and captivate audiences.

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Birds of the Pacific Northwest: Photo Essay

Birds of the Pacific Northwest: A Photographic Guide is the all-in-one regional field guide for birding enthusiasts of all levels. Bird experts Tom Aversa, Richard Cannings, and Hal Opperman illuminate key identification traits, vocalizations, seasonal status and distribution, habitat preferences, and other behaviors for the species that call the Pacific Northwest home.

There are more than four hundred bird species in Birds of the Pacific Northwest, but here are a few of our favorites:

2_Wood Duck - Juanita Bay-2-7-13-02937_p#A9EA

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), Male, WA (King County). Photo by Gregg Thompson.

Wood duck (Aix sponsa): A unique, short-tailed duck with a long, broad tail. The males are spectacularly multicolored. The population was depressed a century ago, but is now recovering thanks to managed harvest, nest boxes, and forest regrowth. Continue reading