The State of the State
June was an action-packed month. The Nyssa High School Class of ’66 celebrated June 24 and 25, and a grand three days it was beginning a night early, Mexican dinner with six of us old friends, an ice-cream social at the high school on Friday night, a golf tourney and hamburger feed on Saturday and the reunion dinner on Saturday night. So many wonderful people, so many memories. Fifty-four members of our graduating class (of 93 souls) attended the event, which was put on entirely by the reunion committee–with the exception of Saturday’s wonderful barbecue. It was a fine celebration from beginning to end.
Several things made this reunion particularly special for me. Most important, I was reunited with my dear friend Margaret Hurle. We have been friends for nearly 51 years now. Margie came to Nyssa from Australia to live with my family as the NHS exchange student during our senior year in high school. We hit it off then and we still do today. This is her second visit to the states since the 1965-66 school year; the first was in 1994. And I visited her in Australia 10 years ago.
She arrived on June 20, and the next morning we set out for Mount St. Helens. Wednesday we took a day trip to Oceanside. And then Thursday, the drive across Oregon to Nyssa. We stayed with my wonderful friend Toni Morgan in Parma, Idaho. From her perch on a hillside there, she pens incredible novels. And she is the consummate host. Between reunion events, we talked about writing and politics and art and kids…you name it.
The adventure continues until Margie leaves Portland on July 10. We have a few more plans up our sleeves, so stay tuned.
The State of the Novel
During this pause in the actual writing, the work continues. In his brain stimulating book, Steal Like an Artist, author Austin Kleon talks about creative stealing. There’s really nothing new, he tells us. Steal what you need. Not as in plagiarism, but creatively.
Right now I am “stealing” from Irish mystery author Tana French. Her novel, Faithful Place, has haunted me since I first read it in 2010. This time around, my goal is to see how she does it–the way she layers details about characters and events so that you barely know it’s happening, the way the narrator exposes himself and his emotions. French is a good one to “steal” from. Her techniques are impeccable. And, even reading this book as a study rather than for enjoyment, it is just as enjoyable the second time around–perhaps even more so.
The night of the Salmon Bake at the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) is fast approaching. Those of you who have read The Man Who Wasn’t There will remember that event well as the opening chapter of the book.
This year I will be signing books at the IPNC on Saturday, July 30, 3:30-5 p.m. in Riley Hall on the Linfield College Campus in McMinnville, Oregon. If you are around, poke your head in and say hello. Saturday is the day of the Salmon Bake, so I am certain I can invoke some ghosts of IPNCs past.