Tin House does a great job every year of booking their Summer Writer's Workshop with authors I want to be best friends with. This year, that means Anthony Doerr, Jim Shepard, Steve Almond, Karen Russell, and Cheryl Strayed (though, where my Aimee Bender at?).
The workshop component of the Writer's Workshop is a week-long intensive for aspiring writers, but there are plenty of chances for the general public to get in on it: Readings are held nightly at Reed's Cerf amphitheater, which is an absolutely gorgeous spot to take in a reading; and for $15 a pop, you can crash Steve Almond's seminar on opening paragraphs, or Cheryl Strayed's presentation on revelation in memoir.
The fun starts this Sunday, July 14, and continues through July 21. Here are a few of my picks from the readings and seminars; the full schedule is here.
Readings, Reed's Cerf Amphitheater, $5 —It's actually hard to pick favorites among the seven scheduled lineups, because they're all great. But personally, here's what I'm most likely to attend:
Tues, July 16, 8 pm—The ever-hilarious Steve Almond is joined by poet Dorothea Lasky and novelist Benjamin Percy, whose werewolf-thriller Red Moon is apparently quite good.
Thurs July 18th, 8 pm—A reading with the just delightful Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, along with local poet Matthew Dickman and novelist/poet Luis Alberto Urrea.
Fri July 19, 8 pm—Probably enough's been said about Cheryl Strayed in the local press (deservingly), so let's focus on Jim Shepard—he's one of the best short story writers working today. They're joined by poet Major Jackson.
Seminars, $15 (or 2 for $20)
One of my favorite regional authors, Spokane's Jess Walter, discusses the role of time in framing, pacing, and telling a story.
Wed July 17, 3 pm, Vollum Lecture Hall
In the Beginning, God Created Opening Paragraphs
The always-entertaining Steve Almond breaks down some of the best opening paragraphs in literature. Thurs July 18, 2 pm
Anthony Doerr discusses the role of failure in writing, questioning the basic enterprise of trying to communicate by putting tiny black marks on a piece of paper.
Fri July 19, 2 pm
The Lights Are On in the House, But No One Lets Us In
Novelist/short story writer Jim Shepard discusses the "challenges and opportunities" in writing about America's lower classes, by way of a close reading of Junot Diaz's "Edison, New Jersey."
Sat July 20, 3 pm, Vollum Lecture Hall