Reading Seattle

The City in Prose

Peter Donahue and John Trombold

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: Literature; Pacific Northwest / Art and Culture
  • Bibliographic information: 320 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Seattle, with its spectacular natural beauty and rough frontier history, has inspired writers from its earliest days. This anthology spans seven decades and includes fiction, memoirs, histories, and journalism that define the city or use it as a setting, imparting the flavor of the city through a literary prism.

Reading Seattle features classics by Horace R. Cayton, Richard Hugo, Betty MacDonald, Mary McCarthy, Murray Morgan, and John Okada as well as more recent works by Sherman Alexie, Lynda Barry, David Guterson, J. A. Jance, Jonathan Raban, and others. It includes cutting-edge work by emerging talents and reintroduces works by important Seattle writers who may have been overlooked in recent years.

The writers featured in this volume explore a variety of neighborhoods and districts within the city, delineating urban spaces and painting memorable portraits of characters both historical and fictional.
Peter Donahue teaches at Birmingham-Southern College and is the author of many short stories and books, including the novel Madison House. John Trombold teaches at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Previously, he taught English at a number of Seattle-area schools, including Seattle University, Pacific Lutheran University, Seattle Central Community College, and The Lakeside School. Together, they also edited the book Reading Portland (University of Washington Press and Oregon State Historical Society, 2007).

"No prose anthology, in my view, could be more helpful - to immigrants or lifelong residents - in delivering Seattle's relatively recent but startlingly rich history and diverse literary voices. For those unable to live in or visit this ever-surprising city, Reading Seattle may just be the next best thing."
-Charles Johnson, from the Foreword
Foreword - Charles Johnson
Introduction - Peter Donahue

Part 1: Coming into Focus (1930s-1980s)
Northwest Gateway: The Story of the Port of Seattle - Archie Binns
The Executioner Waits - Josephine Herbst
Farthest Reach: Oregon and Washington - Nancy Wilson Ross
Annie Jordan: A Novel of Seattle - Mary Brinker Post
Long Old Road - Horace R. Cayton
How I Grew - Mary McCarthy
Anybody Can Do Anything - Betty MacDonald
Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle - Murray Morgan
Nisei Daughter - Monica Sone
No-No Boy - John Okada
Seattle, Past to Present - Roger Sale
Digressions of a Native Son - Emmett Watson
The Real West Marginal Way: A Poet's Autobiography - Richard Hugo

Part 2: Many Voices (1980s-1990s)
Still Life with Woodpecker - Tom Robbins
The Rainy City - Earl W. Emerson
Sister of the Road - Barbara Wilson
Seattle's Son - David Guterson
The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest - Timothy Egan
Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America - Jonathan Raban
Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season - David Shields
Emerald City: Third and Pike - Charlotte Watson Sherman
Seattle and Vicinity - Colette Brooks
A Good Man - Rebecca Brown
Lying in Wait - J. A. Jance
Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle - Walt Crowley
Street - Jack Cady
Cold Snap - Thom Jones
American Bullfrog - Charles D-Ambrosio
Indian Killer - Sherman Alexie
Blurred Vision: How the Eighties Began in One American Household - Natalia Rachel Singer
Dark Blue Suit - Peter Bacho

Part 3: Unto Itself (1990s-Early 2000s)
A Fair Trade - Michael Byers
Seattle Now: A Letter - Emily Baillargeon Russin
Allan Stein - Matthew Stadler
Sleep Dummy - Matt Briggs
Breaking In - Paisley Rekdal
Cruddy - Lynda Barry
Green Lake - Edwin Weihe
Never Mind Nirvana - Mark Lindquist
Pearl's Secret: A Black Man's Search for His White Family - Neil Henry
The Strangeness of Beauty - Lydia Minatoya
Epilogue - John Trombold

"What is here is bracing, informative, and strikingly varied..No matter what your tastes are, the anthology provides a fascinating sense of listening in on the mind of the city, humming away over the decades and coming up with myriad harmonies and discords distinctively its own."
-The Seattle Times

"Donahue and Trombold have compiled a volume that fills a book void, especially in recognizing the outpouring of writing about Seattle in the most recent decade..[They] have worked hard to include many of the city's finest writers over the past 70 years..[and] have also done an admirable job in showcasing many lesser-known but rising talents."
-Seattle Post-Intelligencer