Next week, I’ll be heading to Seattle to visit my old pal Ernesto, with a side trip to Portland to see Jorge, another friend. Getting to the Pacific Northwest from Jackson involves taking a puddle-jumper plane from Jackson to Atlanta (technically the wrong direction), and then a cross-country flight from there to Seattle. The train trip from Seattle to Portland is about three hours one-way.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’ll be spending lots of time sitting around. When I travel, I always bring a book or, rather, several books. I never know which book in my to-be-read pile—it’s now almost as tall as I am—to bring. So, I end up packing four books that I’ve been meaning to pick up off my shelves for a year, two books that I rediscovered while checking my shelves, and a final one that I’ve sorta been meaning to sell for a decade, but which I keep lugging from home to home, so let’s give it a try now that I’ll have lots of uninterrupted time. My knapsack is so heavy that I’ll drag my knuckles on the airport floor. Inevitably, one of these books will captivate me while I’m sitting in the Jackson airport, and I’ll ignore the rest for the entire vacation… and then buy six more books during the trip.
Help me avoid this. Choose a book for me. I’m looking for a great book—preferably a novel or creative nonfiction—set in or specifically about the Pacific Northwest* in some way. Beyond Tom Robbins and David Guterson, I’ve got little idea of the contours of Pacific Northwestern writing. Who’s a great writer from the region, what one book would you recommend by him or her for a starter, and why?
If I get more than one recommendation for a single book, I’ll try my best to buy a copy before I step onto the plane on Saturday afternoon. Otherwise, I’ll choose the recommended book that seems most interesting to me. In any case, I’ll post snippets of the most interesting responses after my return to Jackson on the 17th.
*For my purposes, the Pacific Northwest does not include San Francisco.