A look ahead to what’s new in Northwest books in the fall of 2015.

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Lit Life

It’s August, and though you, gentle reader, may be settled into some sunny spot, letting your thoughts drift like puffy white clouds, we at the news factory are studying up on the fall publishing season. On Aug. 30, The Seattle Times will publish a list of the big fall titles. In the meantime, here are a half-dozen upcoming books by Seattle-area authors, listed alphabetically by author and by month of publication:


“This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!” by Jonathan Evison(Algonquin). I can’t get enough of the work of this Bainbridge Island writer, who has the gift of combining humor and tragedy and making it all wildly entertaining (see his previous novel, “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving”).

“Harriet Chance” is about a widow trying to fill a giant hole in her life after the death of her husband, Bernard. Posthumously, Bernard has given Harriet the gift of an Alaskan cruise, and all sorts of surprises, including Bernard’s ghost, pop up. “It’s not often that a male writer gets inside the head of a female character without botching it somehow,” noted the advance Kirkus review. “Jim Harrison pulled it off in ‘Dalva’ and maybe Daniel Defoe in ‘Moll Flanders.’ Evison joins that short list.”

“Reclaimers” by Ana Maria Spagna(University of Washington Press). Spagna, Stehekin author of “Now Go Home” and “Potluck,” drove her aging Buick up and down the West Coast to get the true stories of people who have reclaimed land they consider sacred. They include the Mountain Maidu tribe of California, which reclaimed the Humbug Valley from the utility Pacific Gas & Electric; the Yakama Nation, which in concert with conservation groups succeeded in removing a dam from Washington’s White Salmon River; and the Timbisha Shoshone tribe, which reclaimed the right to live on the portion of their homeland that lies within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park.

“Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography” by David B. Williams(University of Washington Press). A Seattle natural-history writer (go to geologywriter.com to see his work) chronicles the startling history of the reshaping of Seattle’s landscape, an undertaking rife with “physical challenges and sometimes startling hubris,” says the publisher. In the blink of an eye, geologically speaking, huge changes were wrought on the city’s native landscape, from the filling in of the Duwamish tide flats to the massive regrading project that sliced and diced Denny Hill.


“Seattle Justice: The Rise and Fall of the Police Payoff System in Seattle” by Christopher T. Bayley(Sasquatch). In an age of squeaky-clean, process-heavy local government, it’s hard to believe that in the 1960s Seattle was rocked by a shocking corruption and payoff scandal that implicated both the local police and elected officials. Bayley, a young lawyer in that era, ran for prosecuting attorney, won, and secured indictments against several public officials. This is his story.


“Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones: Selected and New Poems” by Lucia Perillo (Copper Canyon Press). Poetry by the Olympia poet, a MacArthur fellow with a long list of prizes to her name. This collection includes 23 new poems and others from her five previous volumes.

“The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health” by David R. Montgomery and Ann Biklé (Norton). Montgomery is a MacArthur fellow and geomorphology professor at the University of Washington. He’s joined by his wife, biologist Ann Biklé, in telling the story of microbes, from the soil beneath our feet to the critters inside our gut, and their role in everything from agriculture to medicine.