It’s Day 7 of 28 Authors, 28 Variations on a List, and we give you one of our hometown authors, Peter Brown Hoffmeister, who doesn’t mind being called The Subversive Peter Brown Hoffmeister. His favorite PNBA store is the UO Duck Store, where events coordinator Laura White “does an incredible job of bringing in great writers and promoting Northwest authors.” We second this, having been to a recent reading at the UO with Hoffmeister and Lidia Yuknavitch, an unforgettable evening.
Here are seven quick facts about Hoffmeister:
1. In middle school, he wore his older sister’s hand-me-down white stirrup pants and matching white Keds.
2. He reads contemporary poetry for fun on a Saturday night (Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler, anyone?).
3. He was home-schooled for seven years by his grammar-loving mother, so he correctly uses “fewer/less,” “finished/done,” and “it is we.”
4. His first book, The End of Boys, was orphaned at Soft Skull.
5. He loves the prime numbers 3, 11, 13, 17, and 29, but he’ll settle for 7 here.
6. His second book, Let Them Be Eaten By Bears, A Fearless Guide To Taking Young People Into the Outdoors, Perigee/Penguin, will come out in the spring of 2013.
7. He’d rather be rock climbing.
He offers five category recs + two bonus books by his favorite NW author (totaling a prime number of seven).
Poetry. I love Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton (you can’t go wrong there), but my recommendation is Mike McGriff’s Dismantling the Hills. Knowing that McGriff will become the poet laureate in twenty years, read his debut collection now.
Essays. I love Emerson’s collections, especially any anthology that includes “Self-Reliance.” On a less serious note, I’ve read some of David Sedaris’ memoir/essays 29 times aloud, but Pam Houston’s collection A Little More About Me is my rec. Her nature writing is excellent (see “Searching For Abbey’s Lion”), but her humanity pieces are better. Read “The Morality of Fat” and “Out of Habit I Start Apologizing.”
Short stories. This might be my favorite category. Ernest Hemingway’s The Nick Adams Stories and Sherwood Anderson’s Winesberg, Ohio are both incredible. And more recently, Denis Johnson Jesus’ Son or Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight In Heaven could make anyone’s list. But the best book–any book–I’ve read in the past year was Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. After I finished the last story, I wrote Lahiri a fan letter.
Novel. I thought of Goodnight, Nebraska by Tom McNeal right away. Then my favorite Cormac McCarthy novels: Cities of the Plain, All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men. But Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is my favorite novel, so I’ll have to go with that.
Memoir. I’m tempted to recommend Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, because it’s beautiful, but instead I’ll choose the most brave, blunt, and honest book I’ve read this year, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water. Not PC, and not always fun, this book is nonetheless gorgeous. Lidia can flat out write.
Bonus Two Books (Because Everyone I Know Wants to Be Pete Fromm). Indian Creek Chronicles: his true story of seven months alone in the Selway/Bitterroot wilderness). How All This Started: a novel of baseball, family and mental illness in the flats of West Texas.