Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Launch

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Last night Mark and I went to a book launch for Robin Cody's new book. I love the stuff Robin Cody writes. He's not hugely famous; he doesn't get on the best-seller list, he's not in the New York Times.

He's just one of the best writers in Oregon.

I've used his novel, Ricochet River in teaching an Oregon Literature class for the last ten years. If you haven't read it yet, you should. It is a universal story set squarely in the Northwest. Beautiful, gorgeous.

And then there's his first nonfiction book, Voyage of a Summer Sun. He wrote it after he canoed the entire Columbia River, from clear up in British Columbia at its headwaters, all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Astoria. A great adventure, with wonderful stories.

This new book, Another Way the River Has, is also set in the Northwest, and it's also nonfiction. It's a collection of short essays that are rich and evocative and moving and sometimes even funny.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the review in the Sunday Oregonian:

"As I lay in the cabin, waiting for sleep, the moon broke clear and silver and bright," Cody writes. " Light from the long gone sun -- in a sensational bank shot -- reflections off reflections -- bounced from the moon, ricocheted off the river, and rippled the white ceilings of 'The Turtle.'" 

I love his idea, that the moonlight on the ceiling of his boat's cabin was really sunlight that had bounced around the heavens like some laser basketball, ricocheting off the moon and then the river and then into his cabin.

Here's another one:

"Wisps of vapor danced across the river, and the songbirds were just a-going it. I walked back to the net-minding platform, newly attuned to an orgy of life and death at the threshold. Life at the border between water and land is richer than elsewhere. All along the wet mud bar were tiny air holes for little breathers taking on tinier fuel. Here in the back-and-forth wash of salt and fresh water, noiseless mouths and claws and filters were at work on the business of life. An aroma of rich rot filled the still air as the sun broke above the ridge to the east, powering up the whole haunting and wondrous system." 

His wife teases him that it takes him 15 years to write a book. I think with prose as finely distilled as this, it's a wonder it doesn't take 30 years.

I bought one of his books and took it over to the table where he was autographing. He's been out to the high school probably 7 or 8 times as a guest author, and one time I interviewed him for a writing assignment I was doing, and we might have bumped into one another 2 or 3 other times. One time I stopped at his house to buy some more copies of Ricochet River for my classroom, but I certainly don't consider myself a close buddy or anything like that. When I got up to the autograph table, he looked up at me, and I could tell that he recognized me, but couldn't remember my name. I'm sure my former students see that identical look on my face all the time in the school hallways. So I supplied my name; no big deal. But then, this evening when I checked my inbox, Robin had sent me an email apologizing for forgetting my name last night! What a gem.

Like I said, I love the stuff Robin writes, but I also love how down-to-earth and human he is. If you're looking for a good read, run to Powell's or Amazon.com and pick up a copy of Another Way the River Has.

(Note to Annemarie: Yes, I picked up a copy for you, too. Email me your snail mail address and I'll send it to you. Note to Dorothy and Julia: Sure, you can borrow my copy, but you'll have to wait till June; I'm already using it in my classroom, starting this morning.)


Dorothy said...

You know me too well. :)

JuliaKoponick said...

Okay, I will put it on my calendar for June 18, that should give Dorothy 3 days to read it....more than enough tome!!

Annemarie said...

Hooray Robin Cody! I wish I could have been there. How much do I owe you for the book, postage, and your efforts to have it signed? Let me know. My address:

1611 Rucker Avenue
Everett, WA 98201

I miss teaching with you and talking about fantastic regional literature.