February Author Talks at Village Books

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Submitted by Village Books

Now that football season is over, you may find yourself having more time to read those titles that have been collecting dust on your nightstand for the past several months. That, or perhaps you need to restock your bookshelf altogether. If you need to replenish your reading stash, head to Village Books where great titles and events, like a full month of author talks from local and visiting authors, abound.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 4:00 p.m.
Chris Hoke, Wanted

Interweaving his own story with moving vignettes and gritty experiences in hidden places, a jail chaplain and minister to Mexican gang and migrant worker communities chronicles his spiritual journey to the margins of society and reveals a subversive God who’s on the loose beyond the walls of the church, pursuing those who are unwanted by the world. Hoke shares comic, heartbreaking and sublime tales of sacred moments in unlikely situations: singing with an attempted-suicide in the jail’s isolation cell, dodging immigration and airport security with migrant farm workers, and fly-fishing with tattooed gangsters. Set against the misty Washington landscape, this unconventional congregation at times mirrors the Skagit Valley’s fleeting migratory swans and unseen salmon. But Hoke takes us with him into riskier terrain as he gains and loses friends to the prison system, and even faces his own despair—as well as belovedness—on the back of a motorcycle racing through Guatemalan slums. In these stories of “mystical portraiture,” like the old WANTED posters of outlaws, Hoke bears witness to an elusive Presence that is still alive and defiant of official custody. Such portraits offer a new vision of the forgotten souls who have been cast into society’s dumpsters, helping us see beneath even the hardest criminal a fragile desire to be wanted.

Chris Hoke is a jail chaplain and pastor to gangs and violent offenders in Washington’s Skagit Valley.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 7:00 p.m.
John Vaillant, The Jaguar’s Children – Fiction

Héctor is trapped. The water truck, sealed to hide its human cargo, has broken down. The coyotes have taken all the passengers’ money for a mechanic and have not returned. Those left behind have no choice but to wait.

Héctor finds a name in his friend César’s phone. AnniMac. A name with an American number. He must reach her, both for rescue and to pass along the message César has come so far to deliver. But are his messages going through?

Over four days, as water and food run low, Héctor tells how he came to this desperate place. His story takes us from Oaxaca — its rich culture, its rapid change — to the dangers of the border. It exposes the tangled ties between Mexico and El Norte — land of promise and opportunity, homewrecker and unreliable friend. And it reminds us of the power of storytelling and the power of hope, as Héctor fights to ensure his message makes it out of the truck and into the world.

Both an outstanding suspense novel and an arresting window into the relationship between two great cultures, The Jaguar’s Children shows how deeply interconnected all of us, always, are.

John Vaillant’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, the AtlanticNational Geographic, and Outside, among other magazines. His two previous, award-winning books, The Tiger and The Golden Spruce, were international bestsellers.

Friday, Feb. 13, 7:00 p.m.
Gerard LaSalle, Widow Walk – Fiction

Widow Walk is based on the real events surrounding the revenge murder of Isaac Ebey, a prominent citizen who lived on Whidbey Island in the mid-1800s. Gerard LaSalle combines his love of history with a compelling story of a woman’s determination to find her kidnapped son.

Gerard LaSalle is an award-winning author and critically acclaimed teacher, storyteller and lecturer living in the Pacific Northwest. His captivating novel “Widow Walk” earned the 2014 eLit Silver Medal for Multicultural Historical Fiction, a 2013 USA Best Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Award.

Sunday, Feb. 15, 4:00 p.m.
Ann Pancake, Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley – Fiction 

Ann Pancake’s 2007 novel Strange As This Weather Has Been exposed the devastating fallout of mountaintop removal mining on a single West Virginia family. In Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley, a follow-up collection of eleven astonishing novellas and short stories, Pancake again features characters who are intensely connected to their land–sometimes through love, sometimes through hate–and who experience brokenness and loss, redemption and revelation, often through their relationships to places under siege. Retired strip miners find themselves victimized by the industry that supported them; a family breaks down along generation lines over a fracking lease; children transcend addict parents and adult suicide; an urban woman must confront her skepticism about worlds behind this one when she finds bones through a mysterious force she can’t name. Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley explores poverty, class, environmental breakdown and social collapse while also affirming the world’s sacredness. This event will feature live music from the local duo The Scarlet Locomotive.

Ann Pancake’s ear for the Appalachian dialect is both pitch-perfect and respectful, that of one who writes from the heart of this world. Her firsthand knowledge of her rural place and her exquisite depictions of the intricacies of families may remind one of Alice Munro. Ann Pancake grew up in Romney and Summersville, West Virginia. She now lives in Seattle and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 7:00 p.m.
Ian Weir, Will Starling – Fiction

London, 1816. Romanticism is at the high tide and the metropolis is swaggering with Regency abandon. Edmund Kean is revolutionizing the theatre while setting new benchmarks in debauchery, Byron is inventing the cult of celebrity, and scientific discovery is advancing with great dizzying leaps into wild and uncharted terrain. Young Will Starling – charmer, confabulist and aspiring Rainbow – has returned after five long years on the Continent assisting in battlefield surgeries. Now he and his mentor are struggling to build a civilian practice – and a life – two floors above a gin shop in Cripplegate. This requires an uneasy alliance with the Doomsday Men, grave robbers who supply London’s surgeons and anatomists with the fresh cadavers that are essential for research. When a bungled body-snatching leads to murder – and worse – Will grows convinced that an unholy conspiracy is at work, and that its author is Dionysus Atherton, the brightest of London’s emerging surgical stars. Soon the news sheets are a-twitter with lurid reports: medical experiments gone horribly wrong and uncanny sightings in the streets. Rumours of experimentation upon corpses not quite dead – indeed, upon corpses wide awake and wailing – in a bid to unlock the greatest Secret of all. And as Will’s investigation winds through London’s underbelly, his certainty darkens into something else: obsession. Because Will has secrets of his own. Steeped in scientific lore, Will Starling is a tale of love and redemption, death and resurrection.

Ian Weir is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist. Born in North Carolina, he was raised in Kamloops, British Columbia, where he told his piano teacher that he wanted to be a writer when he grew up. (Her reply: “Yes, that’s a nice hobby. But what do you want to do for a living?”) He is the author of the novel Daniel O’Thunder.

Thursday, Feb. 19, 7:00 p.m.
Graham Kerr, Flash of Silver – Memoir

Join Village Books as we welcome renowned chef and television personality Graham Kerr to our Readings Gallery for his new literary project Flash of Silver. In an innovative and engaging style, Graham and his wife Treena Kerr will debut his Flash of Silver e-book serial, a 64-week journey which is part memoir and part eco-spiritual narrative. The story follows the life cycles of a pair of wild Pacific Chinook salmon amongst a Salmon “run” and aligns them with the Kerrs’ whole life experience.

Graham Kerr was known, for many years, as the host of The Galloping Gourmet, an international television show that changed the cooking show genre into a unique form of entertainment for both devoted cooks and those without culinary concerns. The Food Network credits Graham’s Producer wife Treena for setting the scene for the later success of modern culinary entertainment.

Friday, Feb. 20, 7:00 p.m.
Alma Alexander, Random: Book One of the Were Chronicles – Fantasy

Join us as we welcome Alma Alexander back to the Readings Gallery for her latest Young Adult fantasy novel, Random. Find out why Tamora Pierce says that “you will never read another shapeshifter book like this…and you will find that others will have to pry it out of your fingers.”

Alma Alexander is the author of several previous novels, including The Secrets of Jin-Shei, Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage and Worldweavers: Spellspam. She was born in Yugoslavia, grew up in the United Kingdom and Africa, and now lives in the state of Washington.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 7:00 p.m.
Richard Simon, Teaching Big History

Big History is a new field on a grand scale: it tells the story of the universe over time through a diverse range of disciplines that spans cosmology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and archaeology, thereby reconciling traditional human history with environmental geography and natural history. Weaving the myriad threads of evidence-based human knowledge into a master narrative that stretches from the beginning of the universe to the present, the Big History framework helps students make sense of their studies in all disciplines by illuminating the structures that underlie the universe and the connections among them. Teaching Big History is a powerful analytic and pedagogical resource, and serves as a comprehensive guide for teaching Big History, as well for sharing ideas about the subject and planning a curriculum around it. Readers are also given helpful advice about the administrative and organizational challenges of instituting a general education program constructed around Big History. The book includes teaching materials, examples, and detailed sample exercises. This book is also an engaging first-hand account of how a group of professors built an entire Big History general education curriculum for first-year students, demonstrating how this thoughtful integration of disciplines exemplifies liberal education at its best and illustrating how teaching and learning this incredible story can be transformative for professors and students alike.

Richard B. Simon is Adjunct Professor of English at Dominican University of California, instructor of English at City College of San Francisco, and Contributing Editor at “Relix” magazine.

Friday, Feb. 27, 7:00 p.m.
Jan Ellison, A Small Indiscretion – Fiction

Nineteen-year-old Annie Black deserts her childhood home in Los Angeles for the promise of liberation and abandon in London. Twenty years later, she is a San Francisco lighting designer and a happily married mother of three who has put her libertine past behind her. Then one June morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox—a black and white image of an unlikely foursome, “innocent enough to anyone unacquainted with its history, its treacherous biological imperatives, its call for reparations left unpaid.” The photograph awakens old longings, and poses new questions that threaten Annie’s marriage and send her on a return journey to London, seeking answers. Past and present disastrously collide, setting in motion the spectacular unraveling of Annie’s life back home. Now she must come to terms with her own indiscretions, untangle the mysteries of her past, and fight to recover everything she holds dear—her career, her marriage, and her college-aged son, Robbie, whose promising future has been violently interrupted. A Small Indiscretion is a gripping debut novel about the power of obsession, the stranglehold of the past, and one woman’s reckoning with her own fateful mistakes.

Jan Ellison is a graduate of Stanford University and San Francisco State University’s MFA Program. She has published award-winning short fiction, and was the recipient of a 2007 O. Henry Prize for her first story to appear in print. Her work has also been shortlisted for Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their four children. A Small Indiscretion is her first book.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 4:00 p.m.
Clyde Curley, A Cup of Hemlock – Mystery, Local Author

A beloved high school teacher has been murdered in his classroom. Portland Police Bureau Detectives Matthew Toussaint and Missy Owens work to discover who among the suspects pulled the trigger—the distressed student, the angry parent, the hostile fellow teacher, or the vindictive principal. The detectives delve into school politics in search of the truth, exposing simmering resentments and rancor.

Clyde Curley enjoyed a long career as a high school teacher in Oregon. Over the years, he has also pursued an avocation as a folk musician focusing on traditional fiddle music. In this role he has appeared at many dance halls, music camps and festivals, including as a workshop leader at the recent Bellingham Folk Festival. A Cup of Hemlock is his second novel in the Detective Toussaint mystery series. The first, Raggedy Man, won multiple awards and recognition, including Chanticleer Book Reviews’ Grand Prize for mysteries and thrillers. He lives with his wife in Bellingham.


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