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Vo l . 7 N o . 1


REVIEW Paul Haeder

Water Like Beer – Old World Dreams Transformed Out West in the Shape of a Brewer’s Rite of Passage. A Review of Michael Strelow’s Henry: A Novel of Beer and Love in the West

(Witt-Wise Publishers, 2013)

Beer stands for the transformation itself, from woods to stump field to house to mansion. Beer is magic. You start with some raw things and end up with a cooked thing far superior to any of the raw parts. The same relationship exists between a tree and a house, a boy and a man. There needs to be the transformation and it needs to be managed carefully or you end up building a falling down shack, making a criminal, concocting awful beer. It always surprises me how few men can do the managing of the magic. -–narrator Henry Weinhard, from Henry: A Novel of Beer and Love in the West A title with the word beer in it from an Oregon-based writer might generate salivating and that quirky Portland pugnacity inherent in some of our breed in Stumptown who go on endless walkabouts searching for perfect craft beers. Portland, according to some mainstream sources, has been dubbed King of Beers City with over 60 breweries fermenting yeast and mashing wheat and expelling hop extractions. The alcohol has been attracting yuppies, millennials and a whole ragtag group of people for going on one and a half centuries.

just a half century after Lewis and Clark blazoned the white man’s trail west. Portland is a city of immigrants, accurately captured in Strelow’s book, but the young Weinhard was shaped by the cloistered, conservative castes of the Old World still heavy on his spirit: “I was leaving Germany in the first place not to flee the unpleasantness of the emerging political situation, the constant enmities and internecine warfare among the Germans themselves (many others fled this situation with its incumbent fiscal irresponsibility), but I was fleeing the fact that I would spend a lifetime working for someone else’s brewery in Germany.”

Add to the fact the word West is also in the title of this Salembased writer’s book, evoking all sorts of images when considering the novel’s historical time frame, spanning the 1860s into the turn of the 20th century, and we have Michael Strelow an interesting collision of forces. For the Germans and English and Michael Strelow’s second book, others creating this city, Portland, Henry: A Novel of Beer and Love in the West, is worth the every sort of trickery, every form of duality, every kind of time for those of us who want a peek into the rarefied financial illegality would make the town what it might world of immigrants breaking into the Pacific Northwest be today – known for contradictory forces like the fact

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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