Northwest novel highlighted in Community Reads project

PORT TOWNSEND — We’ve a few weeks of winter still to come — so let’s curl up with a good book, ideally one that allows us to commune with the past, the present and the people of the Northwest.

Such is the thinking behind the Port Townsend Library Community Read project, which this year has Winterkill, Craig Lesley’s novel of Native Americans, fathers and sons, wolves and mountains.

While all 44 of the library’s copies have been checked out, an additional 100 were purchased and are offered for $10 each, associate librarian Keith Darrock said.

About half of those are still available at the library at 1220 Lawrence St., while local bookstores also have Winterkill and Lesley’s other novels, Riversong and The Sky Fisherman, in stock.

This is a good time to begin Winterkill, Darrock added, as March is filled with free activities related to the story.

The first is a staged reading of Winterkill excerpts by Key City Public Theatre actors at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cotton Building at Water and Madison streets.

In the novel, Danny Kachiah, a member of the Nez Perce tribe, scratches out a living as a rodeo cowboy around Pendleton, Ore.

He’s also raising a son, Jack, and thinking back on what his deceased father, Red Shirt, tried to teach him.

As a boy, Danny went into the snowy Wallowa Mountains to hunt elk with his father, and at one point, he was startled by a wolf.

That animal follows him through the story, as do his memories of Red Shirt.

Both Darrock, who grew up in rural Yachats, Ore., and Theresa Percy, director of the Port Townsend Library, found Winterkill a riveting read.

“The whole backdrop of Indian ways and traditions,” said Percy, lays out a rich picture of the rural Northwest. “It gives you a view of reservation life.”

Winterkill was Lesley’s first book; he followed it with Riversong, which Percy said finishes Danny’s story.

Author to visit PT

Lesley himself will come to the Peninsula to host a free discussion of Winterkill and the writer’s life at 7 p.m. March 29 at the Port Townsend High School auditorium, 1500 Van Ness.

That’s to be the culmination of the no-cost Community Read events, which also include:

■   A screening of “Pendleton Round-Up: The Wild West Way,” a documentary film about the Oregon rodeo, at noon March 11 at the Rose Theatre, 235 Taylor St.

■ “The Two Wolves Within: The Wolf in Native American Mythology,” a presentation for ages 10 through adult by library staffer Jeanne Simmons and storyteller Brian Rohr, at 1 p.m. March 16 at the Port Townsend Library Learning Center, 1256 Lawrence St.

■   A program on bow-hunting and backpacking by Jameson Hawn, an Olympic Mountains explorer, at 5:30 p.m. March 17 at the Library Learning Center.

■   “Barrels and Bows,” a barrel-racing and archery exhibition with Hawn and racing champion Dayna Windle, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 18 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Horse Arena, 4907 Landes St.

■   “Tribal Treaty Rights and Natural Resources,” a discussion with Seattle-area journalist Bruce Barcott and Jamestown S’Klallam Natural Resources Director Scott Chitwood, at 7 p.m. March 21 at the Library Learning Center.

Discussion groups are scheduled for the next three weeks. They are:

■   Monday — 2:30 p.m., Book Lovers’ Cafe, Library Learning Center.

■   Wednesday — 7 p.m., Library Learning Center.

■ Monday, March 12 — 2:30 p.m., The Writers Workshoppe, 234 Taylor St.

■ Thursday, March 15 — 7 p.m., Hilltop Tavern, 2510 W. Sims Way.

■ Tuesday, March 20 — 5 p.m., The Undertown Cafe, 211 Taylor St.

■ Wednesday, March 21 — 3 p.m., Northwind Arts Center, 2409 Jefferson St.

The 2012 Community Read is sponsored and solely funded by the Friends of the Port Townsend Library.

For more information about these and other activities, visit or phone the library at 360-379-4441.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at

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