From Broadway Books’ store newsletter:
Fall has truly arrived, and it is as lovely as ever. We traveled to Tacoma last weekend to attend the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association meeting, and along the way we marveled at the changing colors of the leaves– so gorgeous!
The highlight of this meeting each year is meeting so many smart, thought-provoking, entertaining authors. On Saturday morning, our dear friend and Portland’s very own, Lidia Yuknavitch, spoke to a rapt and teary-eyed crowd about the power of words and books, especially in these heated political times. She has graciously allowed us to excerpt the last part of her talk in this month’s newsletter. Here is part of what Lidia shared with us:
“We’re all here together in this room because we love books. We love them so much we’ve devoted our lives to them. These relatively small miracles that we pass hand to hand have literally saved lives.
“Books, like all art, breed in us desire. In times of crisis and fear and misrepresentation we need desire, or else we shut down and hide out in our houses, succumbing to infotainment and the ease of an available latte, turning off our brains and emotions. Books breed desire.
“Underneath the noise of this political season the story of FEAR THIS and HATE THAT, rising up and punching through the infomercial we call public discourse in a moment of danger is this: we know how to read books. Real books with covers and pages. We now how to read them, rub them on our bellies, smell them, chew on them, fill our houses and shelves with them — they are material evidence that we still know how to think and feel. My house is as full with books as yours.
“We know what we have to do. We have to remind people that they must stop listening to the contemporary double-speak discourse and the dominant modes of infotainment. They must put down the TV clicker, take a Facebook break, and put down that latte. We have to remind our fellow mammals how to go to their public library before it gets shut down. How to go to their local independent bookstore and ask, ‘Which books make you feel alive again?’
“People keep telling me that books are in danger of disappearing. E-books, Kindles, iPads will replace the object of the book as we know it. But I’m not worried. The new technologies are pretty cool, to be honest. Very snappy. But until the day when we are cyborg-fitted with our art and literature, I already know why we’ll keep picking up books and putting them in each other’s hands, turning the pages. In times of crisis, we can still remember them burning.”
Lidia is the author of the memoir The Chronology of Water, winner of an Oregon Book Award [and a 2012 PNBA Book Award] and published by Hawthorne Books, as well as the novels Dora: A Headcase and The Small Backs of Children — the latter also a winner of an Oregon Book Award and newly out in paperback. Her next book, The Book of Joan, a fictional reimagining of the story of Joan of Arc, will be published by Harper this spring — and she will be reading at the store. Thank you, Lidia!
—Kim Bissell and Sally McPherson
Broadway Books, Portland, OR