Keith Scribner has never been one to shy away from trouble. His first novel, The GoodLife, fictionalized the 1992 real-life account of an Exxon executive’s kidnapping, and his third novel, The Oregon Experiment (hardcover, 2011, Knopf; re-released as a paperback in summer 2012 by Vintage Contemporaries), plunges the reader deep into the heart of the wily Pacific Northwest, home of the WTO protests and an actual secession in the 1940s (involving parts of southern Oregon and Northern California). In The Oregon Experiment, now in paperback, a young couple, Scanlon (a professor), and his pregnant wife, Naomi, have recently moved to Douglas, a small town in Oregon, so Scanlon can collect material for a scholarly book on mass movements that he hopes will catapult him onto the cushy tenure tract back east. Naomi, a perfume designer who has suddenly lost her sense of smell, must make sense of a strange environment in both the lush Northwest and her now-foreign, lactating body. For Scanlon, meeting Clay, a local anarchist, and Sequoia, the leader of a local secessionist movement, is a dream come true. The book, he thinks, will write itself. Unfortunately, it does not contain the ending he envisioned.

I had the good fortune of speaking with Keith about The Oregon Experiment, the heart of conflict, the best way to search for Molotov cocktails on the Internet, and um, breasts.

Greetings, TNB readers and Book Club members!

This month’s TNB Book Club selection is Jonathan Evison’s West of Here.



 

 

According to the West of Here website, Evison’s book is “set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, on Washington State’s rugged Pacific coast. West of Here is propelled by a story that both re-creates and celebrates the American experience—it is storytelling on the grandest scale. With one segment of the narrative focused on the town’s founders circa 1890, and another showing the lives of their descendants in 2006, the novel develops as a kind of conversation between two epochs, one rushing blindly toward the future and the other struggling to undo the damage of the past.”

Dealing to Kurt Cobain? Riding Layne Staley’s Hog? Hiding heroin for Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan?

TNB contributor Tom Hansen’s book American Junkie may be more than these mind boggling rub-ups with Pac Northwest music icons, but those details alone make us want to check it out. Read the full review over at City Arts.