Monday, June 8, 2009

I got your summer reading right here

“There are a million stories in the naked city. Portland Noir collects 16 of them.”

Good news: now you can indulge your sweet tooth for fun summer reading fare and remain au courant at the same time, thanks to Akashic Book’s recent release of Portland Noir. This collection of 16 all-new stories “explores the dark, rainy underbelly of one of America’s most beautiful but enigmatic cities,” so there.

You don’t need to know Portland to appreciate the literary quality of the miniature gems, but if you are familiar with the place, you’ll appreciate how sharply observed and ground in setting all the stories are, without exception. In terms of locale, they range from Felony Flats to the gilded Pearl District, from Seven Corners to St. Johns – all over the place. Similarly, they range in tone from wry to harrowing to wistful. It’s the best evocation of the Rose City I’ve seen since Mr. Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees.

Some of Stumptown’s favorite resident writers contribute to the book, including Monica Drake and Floyd Skloot. My personal fave is Karen Karbo’s hysterical piece “The Clown and Bard,” about an anti-protagonist so fecklessly self-deceiving that by the end of the story, you may know him better than he knows himself.

Next up: Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City, edited by Ariel Gore (who also contributes to Portland Noir), a compendium equally endowed with Portland literary lions such as Marc Acito and Tom Spanbauer.

Please note: several contributors to Portland Queer, including the pulchritudinous Mr. Spanbauer, will read TONIGHT, at 7pm, at Broadway Books. I’ll be at the Drammys and so will have to miss this event – please go and let me know what all happens.

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