Matt Love is the publisher of Nestucca Spit Press and the author/editor of seven books about Oregon, including Gimme Refuge: The Education of a Caretaker and Love & The Green Lady. Brian Doyle called him “nutty brilliant” on Day 3 of this series. We have noticed that when people write about Love and his work, they often use the word “love” as a verb or adjective. Says Brian Juenemann in a recent column in the Eugene Register-Guard: “Love’s primary object of affection is clearly the Green Lady, but the book is really a love letter to the places — often after much searching — to which we truly belong. Love spent nearly two decades in Portland but discovered he’s not the kind of guy who needs the bright lights burning. He prefers a sunset.”
Love is a regular contributor to The Oregonian and writes the “On Oregon” blog for Powells.com. In 2009, Love won the Oregon Literary Arts’ Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon history and literature. He lives in South Beach and teaches English and journalism at Newport High School. He’s currently working on a book about the filming of Sometimes a Great Notion. We interviewed him about his work here.
Here’s his gift list, with Broadway Books as his favorite NW indie store.
The Great Leader by Jim Harrison. A couple of decades ago, I picked up the novel Dalva by Jim Harrison and read it almost straight through. The experience changed my life, made me want to one day relocate to rural American (in my case the Oregon Coast) and I have since read every novel, book of poetry and work of non-fiction that Harrison has produced. How he hasn’t won more recognition and awards is beyond me. Well, actually not—he doesn’t write about New York and he doesn’t teach in a creative writing program. His latest novel, The Great Leader, is about a retired detective and a cult leader and has some of the best writing in the history of literature on the subject of female butts.
Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter. Portland, Oregon circa 1950. Seedy. Pool hustlers. Booze. Petty theft. Punks. Dames. Prison. Prison love. Carpenter wrote this fantastically gritty novel set in Portland and it came out in 1964. Clearly it was a precursor to how Gus Van Sant would later immortalize the Rose City two decades later with Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho. Long out of print, New York Review of Books imprint rereleased it 2009 with a wonderful introduction by George Pelecanos. I couldn’t put it down.
Herzog on Herzog, edited by Paul Cronin. A book-length interview with the German filmmaker that I read over the summer that totally blew my mind. Every writer, musician, artist and filmmaker who has ever run up against the idiotic establishment telling them their art wasn’t good enough for presentation should read this book. Herzog has always done it his own ecstatic way and never taken “no” for an answer if he had a vision for a story. Look where it got him.
Zazen by Vanessa Veselka. Portland teems with writers of all kinds: aspirants, phony memoirists, big shots, indie darlings, manic bloggers, zine god stars, and all the rest in between. The best book by far I read this year from a Portland writer is called Zazen by Vanessa Veselka. In this novel, Veselka skewers the self-consciously earnest, eco-aware inhabitants of the city and one can almost taste her lament for the old gray Portland when people didn’t talk about beer and riding a bike wasn’t a political protest.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. You’ve probably seen the movie. Quite possibly you read the novel back in its counterculture heyday. Maybe you’ve never picked it up at all. Read it again or for the first time this coming year because 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of this Ken Kesey classic. Kesey was 27 years old when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest came out, and it deserves a resurrection if only for the incredible imagery of what damming Celilo Falls on the Columbia River in 1957 did to our regional psyche. I teach it every year.