Category Archives: Nonfiction

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.

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.

Continue reading

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.”


Continue reading

From the Desk of Rachael Levay: Fall 2016 Sneak Peek

While everyone is hitting the beach or the open road for a summer road trip, the book world is getting ready for fall, our biggest season. Sales reps are currently calling on accounts from coast to coast—independent bookstores, museums, and galleries—and we are working on events, ads, direct mail, and exhibits to ensure our titles reach the broadest audiences possible.

So in the spirit of summer, I’d like to share a few highlights from the Fall 2016 season, books that have already garnered some exciting feedback from buyers, reps, and readers.

Migrating the Black Body: The African Diaspora and Visual Culture, edited by Leigh Raiford and Heike Raphael-Hernandez, explores how visual media has shaped our ideas of diasporic imaginings of the individual and collective self. Featuring a broad range of scholars and artists, this powerful volume features 21 color illustrations and its oversize trim has made it very popular with buyers at museums, particularly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and has led many buyers to look more deeply at our backlist titles in African and African American art.

DeepestRoots_AlcalaThe Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, by Kathleen Alcalá, explores relevant questions about food and place by looking closely at how the cultural history of Bainbridge Island contributed to its culinary and agricultural makeup. More importantly, though, Alcalá uses this unique place to examine our current relationships to food and show how we can make savvy decisions about our present that will sustainably honor the future. It’s a smart and moving book that should be read by everyone interested in the ways in which food shapes our lives.

My personal favorite from this list is Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I, by Paula Becker. Yes, it’s funny and sweet and illuminates a part of the Pacific Northwest’s history that may be fresh to our region’s newcomers, but what’s made it such fun to work on is the sheer delight of my contacts when they remember their first experiences with The Egg and I or the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series. A major library wholesaler buyer sent me pictures of her beloved childhood copies of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, an events coordinator for one of the country’s best independent bookstores talked at length about the emotional resonance of The Egg and I, a librarian in Illinois wrote to say she recommends MacDonald to patrons every week. We in university presses often get the chance to showcase important topics and spread scholarship that changes academia, but I don’t think I’ve worked on another book that has elicited such delight from early readers. It makes us feel like we’re part of the excitement!

Check out our full list of forthcoming titles in our Fall 2016 catalog.