“Our Love Will Go the Way of the Salmon” by Cameron Pierce
Broken River Books, 2015
Plot Notes: Through 15 stories, we fish across the west and east: from Bakersfield, California, to the Columbia River Bar and far beyond. In the title story, a down-on-his-luck 40-something takes his disabled grandmother to his childhood fishing hole. We meet a wounded G.I. who finds more than just healing when a Vietnamese catfish farmer takes him in during the war. We watch as a bass fisherman’s wife unzips her human skin to reveal that she is in fact a human-sized bass. And we see, more than once, a really creepy fish-human hybrid that just needs your help.
Take Away: Early editions of Richard Brautigan’s seminally zany “Trout Fishing in America” came with this missive included on the back cover, attributed to The Viking Press: “Mr. Brautigan submitted a book to us in 1962 called TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA. I gather from the reports that it was not about trout fishing.” Well, Mr. Pierce’s new collection is about fishing, but be forewarned: These are not your dad’s fishing stories unless maybe your dad is Japanese fabulist Haruki Murakami. Pierce, who comes from the bizarro brand of fiction, knows his fishing, and certainly has no trouble wielding the weird in this collection. When it works best, and it often does, in stories like “Sway,” “Short of Lundy” and “The Incoming Tide,” the weird disarms characters and story structure, warping events into raw emotion. When the weird remains too situational, it tends to fall a little flat.
Recommended For: Psychedelic fishermen, mollusk hunters, fans of Ron Carlson and Richard Brautigan, brawlers, trawlers and lovers .
Bonus: Pierce, who lives with his wife in Astoria, is the author of 10 other works of fiction as well as the editor of three anthologies, including “In Heaven, Everything is Fine,” which features numerous cult fiction writers — including Thomas Ligotti, Kevin Sampsell and Blake Butler — riffing off the cinematic world of David Lynch. Worth the price of admission alone for Amelia Gray’s wonderful story, “These Are The Fables.”
“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, Scribner, 2014
Recommended by: Maureen Dooley-Sroufe of Cannon Beach Book Company in Cannon Beach
Inventive and beautiful: This National Book Award-nominated World War II-set novel was a staff and customer favorite. “This was probably our favorite novel of the year,” Dooley-Sroufe said. Doerr, who often visits Cannon Beach in the summer, crafted a “gorgeously written” novel sure to hook any serious reader.
“Evolution of the Genus Iris: Poems” by Robert Michael Pyle, University of Washington Press, 2014
Recommended by: Brenda Osborn of Godfather’s Books and Espresso in Astoria
Local poetry: Pyle is a Yale-educated ecologist, poet and the author of 14 books, who has made his home in southwest Washington for a number of years. Part of what drew Osborn’s endorsement is Pyle’s ability to distill our local landscape through the specificity of his scientific background.
Recommend for: “Nature lovers,” Osborn said. “Or anyone with a deep appreciation of the Northwest.”