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Review

Spring 2005

Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest

In Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Linda Carlson provides much insight into the rewards and trials of life in the small, isolated communities of a bygone Northwest.

A company town was generally a glorified camp established in the late 1800s by a logging or mining company. The company provided housing for its workers, and often mandated the school curriculum, owned the general store, and decided whether or not alcohol and gambling were allowed. A few paid their employees in scrip, the company’s own currency. There was no local government, as the company boss dictated just about anything he wanted. Nevertheless, Carlson ’73 defines these … » More …

Fall 2005

Common Courage: Bill Wassmuth, Human Rights, and Small-Town Activism

“While those who act out violently—hate groups or lone wolves—may be few, the sentiments that lead them to believe their actions are acceptable stem from every-day bigotry and an unwillingness to confront it.” So writes Andrea Vogt to reflect the views of the late human rights activist Bill Wassmuth (1941–2002), as well as, one suspects, to warn the rest of us who are now left without his courageous leadership in the Northwest.

In Common Courage: Bill Wassmuth, Human Rights, and Small-Town Activism, Vogt chronicles Wassmuth’s life in the context of a discussion of the respective roles of education, religion, and community in eradicating the every-day … » More …

Summer 2008

Color + Modulation

Rob Tyler ’96
2006

Rob Tyler’s animated films combine hand-painted film cells, computer manipulation and atmospheric electronic music to produce a hypnotic come-hither based on changing, pulsing colors that riff off a primary abstract shape to the music of Unrecognizable Now, Moksha Kusa, Carpet Music, In Support of Living, and Solar Marquardt. Although there is no indication that these films are meant for anything more than a DVD-scale viewing, Tyler’s films may recall (for those … » More …

Summer 2002

The Cayton Legacy: An African American Family

Set in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, The Cayton Legacy chronicles the evolution of a remarkable African American family. From the Civil War to the present, generations of the Horace and Susie Cayton family helped illuminate the black and white experience and the troubled course of race relations in the United States.

The Caytons sought to define themselves in relation to their family traditions and to society as a whole. In the process, the distinguished family attained financial success and influence, both regionally and nationally. Family members published newspapers, wrote books, and were elected to public office. They worked for civil and human … » More …

Summer 2008

Bunion Derby: The 1928 Footrace Across America

Charles B. Kastner ’81
University of New Mexico Press, 2007

For generations, the 1920s have provided fodder for authors. The super-hyped sensationalism of those ballyhooed years seems a bottomless pool of entertaining topics. The decade of Lindbergh, Valentino, Capone, and Ruth, of flappers, Mah Jong, crossword puzzles, and marathon dances, also produced the Bunion Derby, a marathon footrace across America. It is to his credit that Seattle author Charles Kastner (’81 M.A. History) not only … » More …

Spring 2002

Breederman

Author Murray Anderson (’50 Dairy Husbandry) weaves his experiences as a herdsman, milk tester, milking machine salesman, artificial inseminator, and fieldsman into a novel that describes the struggle for survival of small farmers in northwest Washington.

In Breederman, Anderson takes readers back to the ’50s and ’60s, when every farm was a family farm, and farmers knew how many cows their neighbors had and how many pounds of milk they shipped.

The book grew out of a series of vignettes Anderson wrote about his experiences as an artificial inseminator.

“One of my goals was to capture the struggles of families to remain on the farm … » More …

Fall 2007

The Wakefields: Falling Down Blue

Country music always seems to be filled with nostalgia—looking back on the days of old with a southern drawl, an acoustic guitar, and a broken heart. Yet every so often artists like The Wakefields come along to alter these perspectives. Falling Down Blue is an album that grafts pop-like traits on a country-music base. While The Wakefields consistently encompass the alt-country genre, each song blurs the boundaries between this more modern form of country and old-timey folk-pop.

There’s even a strong oldies rock influence apparent in the earliest moments of Falling Down Blue. Remnants of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly can be heard, along with … » More …

Summer 2003

Smoke Follows Beauty

There’s a scene in “The Kanasket Chicken Killings” that illuminates a great deal of what Brian Ames (’85 Political Science) is up to in his collection of short stories, Smoke Follows Beauty. As he’s replacing the camshaft of a road grader, mechanic Henri DeLaat, trying to make sense out of what’s been happening on his farm, reduces the confusing events he’s been living through to a mathematical formula: “A, there are chickens going missing. B, it is probably the work of coyotes. C, coyotes can be stopped. D, how? A plus B plus C equals D, a simple equation.” Immediately, he drops a bolt into … » More …

Winter 2005

Head Full of Traffic

If his two latest short story collections are indicative, Brian Ames ’85 is a prolific writer of unsettling talent. Releasing both Head Full of Traffic and Eighty-Sixed: A Compendium of the Hapless in 2004, Ames packs 22-plus pieces into each collection. Granted, many of the works run only a few pages long, but these are stories brief only in word length.

In Head Full of Traffic, ostensibly labeled a collection of horror pieces, Ames skillfully adds his own flair to the genre. In “Carnival,” a crazed carnie imagines an apocalyptic Midway. “Weeb staggers away from the Fun House, swivels that cornpone head when he hears … » More …

Winter 2005

Eighty-Sixed: A Compendium of the Hapless

If his two latest short story collections are indicative, Brian Ames ’85 is a prolific writer of unsettling talent. Releasing both Head Full of Traffic and Eighty-Sixed: A Compendium of the Hapless in 2004, Ames packs 22-plus pieces into each collection. Granted, many of the works run only a few pages long, but these are stories brief only in word length. Rich language and dense atmospheres are Ames’s literary tools, and he manages to convey entire tableaus in single sentences. “He doesn’t fully comprehend meter or rhythm, only understands the voltage through his cortex, manifested in sudden spastic knee bouncing, rapid articulation, back and forth, … » More …