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Literature

Spring 2013

Taste, an Accounting in Three Scenes

Questions of taste—let’s put it simply—can tire. Like a second colonoscopy. Like a second fall of man. Do we have to go through that again?

In the beginning, one is innocent of taste. Then, introduced to the concept, our new Adam and Eve realize their paradisal minds contain no data concerning the charms of early polyphony, track lighting, or cocktail recipes using angostura bitters. Cover up!

Now some years back, the Spanish metaphysician José Ortega y Gasset had the audacity (bad taste?) to question René Descartes. “I think, therefore I am,”Ortega y Gasset said, was based on a false premise. For some reason it didn’t … » More …

Cover of Dove Creek
Fall 2012

Dove Creek

9850062
Paula Marie Coomer
Booktrope, 2010

While more known for her short stories, Paula Coomer takes the novel form to tell the story of Patricia Morrison, the daughter of Kentucky hill folk who leaves her hardscrabble life in Appalachia to discover a new existence in the West. After an unpleasant divorce, she lands on the Nez Perce Indian reservation to work as a nurse. The book, told in the main character’s voice, incorporates an exploration of … » More …

First Words
Summer 2012

The learned observer

“We should observe first, and think afterwards.”
—The Lancet 19 Oct. 1823

Part of the nature of a writer—but then again, perhaps I speak only for myself—is the constant reimagining of one’s self and context, the repeated immersion in myriad and esoteric subjects, all the while desperately hoping for infinite reincarnations in order to fulfill all the things one would like to understand, experience, and be. On the other hand, being a writer embraces the perfectly paradoxical satisfaction with one’s role as a learned observer.

Given the skeptical writer’s reluctance to rely on reincarnation, the only way to grasp these multitudinous desires and perspectives … » More …

Winter 2011

The Man Who Dammed the Yangtze: A Mathematical Novel

kuo

Alex Kuo

Haven Books, 2011

 

Ge and G, mathematicians in northern China and Oshkosh, Wisconsin, respectively, navigate parallel academic paths at the beginning of this unique and challenging novel by WSU English professor Alex Kuo. The two characters don’t know each other, but their lives reflect a common experience over the course of 30 years.

The Chinese woman Ge and Chinese-American man G share a disgust for the emptiness of their teaching and the revolutions … » More …

Fall 2011

Wendell Berry comes to Washington

Poet and author Wendell Berry visited Skagit Valley in May at the invitation of Washington State University students and faculty. He spent the day touring the WSU research and extension center and exploring a farm. He also visited with area farmers including Tom and Cheryl Thornton, left, and Anne Schwartz ’78, right.

Winter 2010

Nature twice: Poetry and natural history

I lean on a glass case that displays stuffed egrets, herons, and sparrows. Across the room, Larry Hufford—director of the Conner Museum of Natural History and professor in the School of Biological Sciences—taps data into his computer. Larry is tall with thick graying hair and sharp blue eyes. I’m a full foot shorter, and this, coupled with the fact that I’m a professor in the English Department, makes for an unusual collaboration.

I used to feel alien in Larry’s scientific domain, even though my office is just a five-minute walk across campus. But over the last six years, Larry and I have … » More …

Gallery: Annotated pages from early English editions of Montaigne's Essays

Selected pages from copies of Montaigne’s Essays, from Will Hamlin.

Return to article: Privacy and the Words of the Dead 

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From Privacy and the Words of the Dead, by Will Hamlin

…It’s very unlikely that these long-forgotten readers expected anyone
to scrutinize their thoughts–anyone, that is, beyond their own immediate
audience, which was often an audience of one. Yes, it’s true that the
social construction of privacy varies tremendously from one culture to
another, and it may be … » More …