This Memorial Day Weekend has been particularly emotionally intense for our region. Every year at this time, our nation honors those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. This weekend, waves of mourning have rippled out from the Pacific Northwest after two brave men were killed on the MAX in Portland. Our community and the world at large also mourn the passing of literary legends Brian Doyle and Denis Johnson.
Denis Johnson died on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. In a rememberance for The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright describes the Idaho author as “a writer who was willing to plumb the darkest corners of his own psyche in order to honestly report on the nature of humanity.” Johnson won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association 2008 Book Award for Tree of Smoke.
“Instantly compelling, Tree of Smoke is, at its core, a novel about the Vietnam War and the people, places, and history that were forever changed because of it. Like the war itself, the storylines dart and weave and are only truly understood as they connect themselves in the end.” –PNBA Awards Committee
Brian Doyle died on Saturday, May 27, 2017. His humorous and heartfelt presentations at stores and our regional conferences were the stuff of legend. Doyle was awarded a PNBA Book Award in 2016 for Children & Other Wild Animals. He was a strong supporter of independent bookstores, and the love was mutual. Through his writing and through his readings, Brian made beautiful connections; the outpouring of memories is a light during this dark time.