Bulletin Daily Paper 09-22-13

Page 41

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2013 • THE BULLETIN

o an an uis as t iou "Enon" by Paul Harding (Random

House,256 pgs., $26) By Charles Ealy Austin American-Statesman

Paul Harding wa s v i r tually unknown in literary circles when he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his debut novel, "Tinkers." It was an unlikely, somewhat startling choice for one of America's top literary prizes, because "Tinkers" was published by the small Bellevue Literary Press and didn't even get a review upon its 2009 publication from the New York Times, arguably the most comprehensive weekly books section in the nation. When "Tinkers" was published, Harding was in his early 40s, and was a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, but he spent most of his earlycareer as a drummer for the defunct Boston band Cold Water Flat. Harding is focusing on literature full-time these days, and his followup novel, "Enon," comes out this month from a much larger publisher, Random House. It's bound to receive multiple reviews and cement the New Englander's status as one of America's most admired prose stylists. As with "Tinkers," however, "Enon" deals w it h w e ighty

matters — primarily love and mortality. "Tinkers" opens with the following twosentences:"George Washington Crosby began to hallucinate eight days before he died. From the rented hospital bed, placed in the middle of his own living room, he sawinsects running in and out of imaginary cracks in the ceiling plaster." "Enon," which focuses on George Crosby's grandson and is named for the town in which he lives, is even more unflinching in

its opening paragraph: "Most men in my family make widows of their wives and orphans of their children. I am the exception. My only child, Kate, was struck and killed by a car while riding her bicycle home from the beach one afternoon in September,a year ago. She was thirteen. My wife, Susan, and I separated soon afterward." What follows is the interior story of the father, Charlie, as he descends into an addiction to prescription painkillers. Such a description might be enough to turn off some readers. But Harding makes you fall in love with Charlie by interspersing tender memories of the daughter and revealing a deeply profound sense of love and fatherhood.

' non'

In essence, Charlie deals with a n d p urged the self-pity and his grief by exploring moments d r uggy grit caking my brain of the past that seem to keep his and clogging my heart." But he child alive, fromthe purchase of knows that such an effort will Kate's first bicycle to their fre- present "a cloying, shiny mirror quent explorations of the woods image of myself prim and sober and the discovery ofbirds. and at ease ... (with) an antholLike "Tinkers," it will simul- ogy of inspirational verse in taneously break your heart and my lap, my forefinger keeping restore your faith in place at a poem in which a pasthe value of life, even tor consoles a father who has amid all th e aches. lost his only child, which has And that brings up an- quieted my heart and brought other interestingpoint: me at peace with my daughter Although dealing with havingbeen groundup beneath m ortality, Ha r d i ng the wheels of a car." The words does not stress reli- that follow "peace" in the above gious themes in either paragraph leave no doubt that book. Charlie is far from healing. That's part of th e reason Howard Crosby, the father of George in "Tinkers," certainly that "Enon" is so moving, so expresses his belief in God. But elemental, so raw in its pain. George doesnot.Neither does Charlie struggles to the point of Charlie in "Enon." a suicide attempt, but Harding A nd i n "Enon," Charlie doesn't let him off so easily. As d oesn't take comfort in t h e he attempts to drown himself religious notion of his child's in a lake, Charlie realizes "that release from earthly woes. In- what I had been doing since stead, he views life as "nothing Kate's death was nothing short more than a distillation of sor- of violence. row and anger," and he sees the H arding doesn't wrap up joy of having loved a child as "Enon" in a pretty, little bow. It's "the measure and source of my clear that Charlie's memories grief." of Kate will still bring him anHarding uses language to guish as well as joy. But Charlie express Charlie's grief in the decides to live, knowing that starkestofterms, as in a scene one day he'll "simply cease" where Charlie is scrubbing his and that there won't be a soul house, in order to achieve a "left in Enon or anywhere else sanctification, "the feeling of on this awful miracle of a planhaving scoured and cleaned et to remember either of us."

Creators ofSmokeyBear,

A 'Bitter River' and

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a dead-end town

"How McGruff and the Crying Indian Changed America: A History of Iconic Ad Council

Campaigns" by Wendy Melillo (Smithson-

ian, 240 pgs., $27.95) By Chris Foran Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Many of the best-remembered ad campaigns of the past half-century — "Only you can preventforestfires," "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," "Take a bite o ut of c r i me," t h e "Crying Indian" Keep America B e autiful ChBIIICdIIIIINlcl commercials — were c reated by th e A d Council, a nonprofit driven by the nation's leading a dvertising agencies. In "How McGruff and the Crying Indian Changed America," Wendy Melillo charts the course of these landmark ad campaigns and shows how they deliveredmore than public-servicemessages. Melillo, a former Washington Postreporter and a professor of public communication at American University, points out that the Ad Council was formed in part out of self-defense. In 1942, a group of top ad agencies formed the council to promote advertising in general and stave off the possibility of government regulation — in part by helping the war effort. The council's longest-running campaign had its roots in those wartime beginnings. To remind Americans about the cost of carelessness with fire in the nation's forests at a time when wood was needed

for war material, the U.S. Forest Service launched regional ads equating forest fires with treason. To broaden the campaign's appeal, a designer for the council hit on the idea in 1944 of a no-nonsense but fatherly bear. And Smokey Bear was born. A theme running throughout "How McGruff and the Crying Ind i a n Cha n g ed America" is that the Ad Council's campaigns often were designed to reinforce the status quo. For example, the council's hugely successful ads for the United Negro College Fund, while reviving the nation's historically black colleges, also bolstered the sep a r ate-bute qual approach t o higher education predominant in the South in the 1960s. The Ad Council's campaign for Keep America Beautiful — propelled by the powerful image of an aging American Indian, in t r a ditional garb, shedding a single tear while surveyingthe pollution around him — shows the council's strengths, and limitations. M elillo's study of th e A d Council's greatest hits — and a few misses, such as an ill-formulated campaign to promote putting atomic energy under international control — sometimes gets too bogged down in the pre-history of the campaigns. But as the first booklength study of the council's work and impact, it shows the Ad Council's significant role in shaping popular attitudes on some of the most important issues of our time.

"Bitter River" by Julia Keller (Minotaur, By Oline H. Cogdill

cerned that the town is sinking under the weight of economic realities. "Bitter River" also illustrates that no matter how remote, no place is immune to

Sun Sentinel

a changing world.

400 pgs., $25.99)

Pynchon's'Bleeding Edge' a call to arms "Bleeding Edge" by Thomas Pynchon

(Penguin,496 pgs., $28.95) By Mike Fischer Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Bleeding Edge," Thomas Pynchon's fabulously entertaining new novel, begins on New York's Upper West Side during the first day of spring. Maxine Tarnow is walking her two boys to school. The sun shinesthrough clusters of pear blossoms, filling the world with light.

This being Pynchon and the year b eing 2 0 01, t h e good times d on't last. Long b efore the towers c ome tumbling dow n just past the novel's midway point, we've d e scended into an underworld featuring Russian gangsters, an Italian mobster, a foot fetishist, an embezzler and Maxine herself, who is a decertified fraud examiner running an outfit called Tail 'Em and Nail 'Em. And these are among the

R unning parallel to t h e convoluted plot and a seemi ngly e n dless stream o f typically und e rdeveloped P ynchon characters i s a gimlet-eyed view of a world where "even nerds can be bought and sold, almost as if times of great idealism carry equal chances for great corruptibility." Everywhere one turns in "Bleeding Edge," something good seems to be getting ruined, while someone good crosses over to the dark side. Gabriel I c e is doubled by the mysterious Nick Windust, a Washington

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life a s a ty p i cal American boy before growing into a professional sadist; numerous minor characters cross a line from "innocent greed" to "fraud," which ultimately narrows their options and ruins their lives. New York itself — the biggest, most vividly realized character in this novel — is being strangled by a "tightgood guys. ening Noose of Horror," as Spinning a web of intrigue the yuppies Pynchon loves that would leave Michael to hate transform its jumbled Moore dazed and confused, history into "multiplexes and Maxine's sleuthing uncovers malls and big-box stores." What's spirited and una money trail leading from high-tech start-ups in New tamed at the "bleeding edge" York's Silicon Alley to WTF of the Internet gets corralled — short for th e W ahhabi and regimented — at an acTransreligious F r i endship celerating pace, in the cliFund, a shady Dubai-based mate of fear engendered by organization that may have Sept. 11, 2001 — linking us l inks to terrorists. Or t h e together in one big prison with "nothing but portals to CIA. Or both. Chief among the villains is Web sites for what the ManGabriel Ice, a onetime "ami- agement wants everyone adable geek" who long ago dicted to, such as 'shopping,' morphed into the heartless ' gaming' a n d 'streaming leader of a tech monolith. endless garbage.'" Ice's company pillages startBut as has always been ups, taking source code with true i n P y nchon's novels, "no proven use" — designed "Bleeding Edge" suggests that by idealistic techno geeks no matterhow ruthless,every who still believe in a commu- supposedly all-encompassing nal Internet where ideas and system has holes, allowing dreams can be shared — and a motley crew of resistersusing it to further more sinis- drop-outs, techno-anarchists ter purposes. and old-fashioned lefties — to Described th i s way, strike a blow for freedom. " Bleeding E d g e " mig h t "Bleeding Edge" is stuffed sound like a cross between with gorgeous passages that " The Crying o f L o t 4 9 " sing their longing for all we've (1966) — with M axine as lost, in trashing the land and a reincarnation of Oedipa ourselves. But such writing Maas — and a r o llicking, is also a stirring call to arms, shaggy dog detective story making clear that the history like "Inherent Vice" (2009). we'll make depends on what But while "Bleeding Edge" and how we remember. As may not have the scope of Pynchon has been reminding "Gravity's Rainbow" (1973), us for 50 years, there's always it would be wrong to dismiss more than one way to tell that it as Pynchon Lite. story.

The Bitter R iver t h at Bright, p opular L u c inda runs near the small,eco- Trimble was one of those who nomically desaw the roiling river pressed town of as a way out, adding Acker's Gap, W. to the tragedy when Va., has myriad t his 16-year-old i s meanings. murdered. Herbodyis Bitter For those resifound in a partly subRiver dents who have merged car in Bitter ambitions to River. Few knew that leave, Bitter River Lucinda was p r egrepresents hope nant, which m akes as it flows way her boyfriend, scion beyond this "shabby af- of a wealthy family, a prime terthought" of a town. For suspect. Keller's careful stoothers who have "settled," rytelling ties the plots together whose goals don't reach be- in an intriguing tale. "Bitter yondthe town limits, seeing R iver"merges the teen's death only a future of poor wages and a gripping view about inand even drugs, Bitter Riv- nocence and hope lost. er offers a handy spot to dump garbage, unwanted appliances, used beer cans, the discards that represent the detritus of many lives. This metaphor of a river as both a l ife force and a dead end makes a superb background for Julia Keller's second strong novel about Bell Elkins, who escaped hertraumatic up2013/14 SCHEDULE bringing in Acker's Gap by "perfecting the dark art of emotional survival," only to return as the prosecuting attorney. In thesechallenging times, effective nonprofit leadershipis more important than ever. The i ntelligently p l otThisongoing learning opportunity weavestogethertheory, experience, andcontext ted "Bitter River" moves to helpadministrators deal creatively with the full rangeof organizational issues. at a brisk, elegant pace as Nonprofit Networkof Central Oregon helps nonprofit administrators strengthen general Keller looks at a woman managementskillsfrom fundraising to financial management to effective supervision. coming to terms with her hometown, and deeply conEachsession is designed to strengthen your management skills while providing field-

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