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Writers

Robert Cantwell
Winter 2014

Lost writer from a lost time

A whole genre of literature, that of the American working class during the Great Depression, has all but disappeared. Now a WSU professor and a Northwest novelist are bringing writer Robert Cantwell, a Washington native, and his most significant book, Land of Plenty, out of the mists of time.

Cantwell, one of the finest American writers of the 1930s, was admired by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, says T.V. Reed, professor of English and American studies. His masterpiece is set in a Washington plywood factory and his characters are based on the workers he once toiled alongside.

Born in southwest … » 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.

Summer 2010

Dan Nelson ’89—25,000 miles of trails

Dan Nelson knows his way around Washington’s woods. As the author of a dozen books on hikes, snowshoe trips, and trails throughout the Cascades, Eastern Washington, and the Olympic Peninsula, he’s logged thousands of miles for research.

“I added it up last year for a biography,” says Nelson, as he searches his pantry for a treat for his new Labrador Sophie. “It was something over 25,000 miles of trails since I started my first book.”

In 1989, as a reporter for Pierce County Herald, and fresh out of Washington State University, Nelson covered general assignment stories, environmental issues, and county government. He enjoyed the demands … » More …

Winter 2009

Yolandé McVey ’07—Taking life back

The heroine of Love’s Secrets puts on perfume, goes to a barbecue, and meets Rod: caramel skin, wavy hair, muscles, and commitment issues.

The author of Love’s Secrets can never do two of those three things. Exposure to perfume or barbecue smoke could kill Yolandé McVey ’07, who suffers from severe asthma and allergies. “I’m so allergic to everything that when I was given an allergy test, I went into shock,” she said. “They had to call an ambulance to take me to a hospital.”

McVey began to lose ground in her lifelong battle with respiratory problems in 1997. She had just moved to Arizona … » More …

Winter 2009

Nöel Riley Fitch ’65, ’69—At Julia’s table

As a graduate student at Washington State University in the late 1960s, Noël Riley Fitch found her calling in an issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. A two-page story about Sylvia Beach and her little bookshop called Shakespeare and Company in Paris in the 1920s sparked her interest.

Her professor, John Elwood, encouraged her to pursue Beach as a subject for her master’s thesis. Elwood had long had a love for French café society. When he was in the armed services in World War II, he met writer and critic Gertrude Stein in Paris. He loved that period of literary history, says Riley Fitch.

She enjoyed … » More …

Summer 2004

Stories about growing up

Pamela Smith Hill isn’t one to forget her roots.

Born and raised in Missouri, Smith Hill set one of her novels, A Voice from the Border, in the Show-Me state, and another, Ghost Horses, in South Dakota, where she lived and worked for nearly a decade.

And her early training as a newspaper reporter-long ago in Springfield, Missouri-is part of the reason for her success today as a writer of award-winning books and short stories for young women and girls, she says. “As a reporter, I had the chance to listen to people, to the way they talk, and to observe details of their own … » More …