After a summer traveling, author Corky Parker is home and ready to give two readings — the first one tonight — of her new graphic memoir, “La Finca: Love, Loss and Laundry on a Tiny Puerto Rican Island.”
The book is her art-filled love letter to an era that, like so many wondrous things, came to an end.
Parker, who writes about her life on Vieques part of the year and in Washington state the other part of the year, will appear at 6 p.m. at Chester Square, the courtyard beside Finistère, at 1025 Lawrence St. in Port Townsend. She will give a second reading at Marrowstone Vineyards, 423 Meade Road in Nordland, at 4 p.m. Friday.
Admission is free to both events, and books will be available for purchase. “La Finca” also can be ordered through local bookstores; information can be found at corkyparker.com.
Parker, who gave one of her first readings of the book at the Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock last May, said this week’s events are also discussions — of what it’s like to publish and illustrate your memoir and what happens when you pour everything you have into an inn on a remote tropical island.
Her place, named “La Finca Caribe,” was based on her desire to live simply and sustainably in Latin America. It’s also about what happens when you “lose everything and crawl back,” as she puts it.
A finca is “a place in the country, like a ranch, a farm, a beach house or just a little garden plot,” Parker’s friend Rocio explains in chapter 1. She and her husband go for it, children in tow. It’s the 1990s.
Adventures abound, as are bugs and reptiles. Parker and family ride the waves and make La Finca work. But her husband ends up leaving the marriage. She’s in her 40s as she starts again.
Eight years hence, a blind date with an architect named Bill turns into a romantic adventure. A little past halfway through the book, Parker explains the new chapter in her life with a two-page illustrated spread titled “My Wooden Boat Is a House.”
“In the boating world, few are crazy enough to go for wooden vessels: lifetime projects of love & toil,” she writes.
Casa Grande, La Finca Caribe’s largest guest house, is “like any boat worth its salt. [It] has weathered many a blow … We live on her decks, sleep in her berths, oil her wood and scrape the rust off any hardware exposed to the moist salty air” of Vieques.
“After many years adrift, just when I learn to single-hand the place, I meet Bill, wooden boat guy, who prefers the lines of midcentury classics to anyone or anything young and sexy … He gets the whole finca thing. He gets me. Bill cautiously steps aboard, and we are on course, underway.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]