Novelist Jim Lynch's newest book

Novelist Jim Lynch's newest book

Puget novelist coming to Forks, Port Angeles

Novelist Jim Lynch is touring the West’s big-city bookstores with his latest acclaimed book — but this week, he’s headed for venues in Forks and Port Angeles.

Lynch, a former newspaper reporter who won the Washington State Book Award for his novel “Border Songs,” has just published “Truth Like the Sun,” a Seattle story set against the backdrop of the 1962 World’s Fair.

There are great views from the Space Needle, of course, of the intersections of past and present, politics and journalism, boom and bust.

The novel is well-timed, with the 50th anniversary of the fair and the Space Needle’s construction happening this year.

Lynch will read from “Sun” and discuss it — as well as “Border Songs” and his coming-of-age novel “The Highest Tide” — at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Forks Library, 171 S. Forks Ave., and at 7 p.m. Friday at Wine on the Waterfront, upstairs in The Landing mall at 115 E. Railroad Ave. in Port Angeles.

Both events are free.

Details about the Forks reading are available by phoning 360-374-6402, while Port Book and News, 360-452-6367, is the sponsor to call for information about the evening at Wine on the Waterfront.

Lynch is a creature of Cascadia: He grew up in Seattle, lives in Olympia and has devoted his novels to exploring particular ways of life around Puget Sound.

He does it through the eyes of widely varying characters.

In Tide, his hero is 13-year-old Miles O’Malley, who’s thrust into the media spotlight when he finds a rare giant squid on the shore near his home.

In “Border Songs,” it’s Brandon, a dairy-farm kid who grows up to become a Border Patrol agent on the U.S.-Canada frontier. Trouble is, Brandon doesn’t fit in with his fellow enforcers; he is an artist and ardent admirer of birds — and of a certain Canadian cannabis gardener named Madeline.

In Truth Like the Sun, Lynch gives us Helen, a Midwest-born reporter who moves to Seattle and finds it quite full of itself. Her main assignment: Roger Morgan, the fictitious guy who got the Space Needle built, and who decides to run, at age 70, for mayor of Seattle four decades after the World’s Fair.

In an interview last week, Lynch said “Sun” is a flight of imagination, not a history; he was seeking to “write a creative novel that captured Seattle.” And Roger the candidate is an invented man, the kind of politician who charms everybody with his electric mix of flamboyance, charisma and mystery.

He’s a “walking, talking, upbeat metaphor for Seattle,” said Lynch.

Helen, however, is inspired by a reporter Lynch once knew: a woman from Chicago who was skeptical about the Emerald City and all its self-love.

“She wasn’t outdoorsy; she thought the scenery was nice, but it didn’t warrant living through the weather,” Lynch recalled.

In Sun, we see Seattle in all its glamorous, if gloomy, glory. The book opens on the night of the Space Needle’s coming-out party in April 1962, and then shuttles to and fro between that World’s Fair spring and the preparations for its 40th anniversary.

A scene from April 2001: “After months of damp gloom, the low clouds finally lifted and bureaucrats leaned against City Hall, their eyes closed, savoring the feeling of sunshine on their faces. It was only sixty-three degrees, but they wanted to strip off their clothes and sacrifice themselves to the stingy sun god. And when they finally opened their eyes again, the bay was brighter and the looming snowball of Mount Rainier had rolled a little closer to downtown.

“Helen tried not to fall for the scenery, but it was hard. The upside to all this background drizzle was that the ever-present moisture essentially backlit everything, which was why the grass looked greener and the sky bluer . . . and why just about everywhere else you went suddenly looked drab.”

While Lynch is on tour for “Sun,” he’s also working on his fourth novel.

“It’s about a volatile family that’s obsessed with sailing,” said the writer, himself the son of a sailing family.

In his travels — on book tour and just socializing — Lynch, of course, notices how people read. And the advent of tablets, e-readers and even smartphones as book-delivery devices means big changes in scenery.

“It sort of freaks me out, to go to parties and not see any books anywhere,” he said. “It used to be that looking at people’s books and music was a way you learned about them,” but increasingly, people’s books and songs are hidden away on a device.

Yet Lynch doesn’t foresee those taking over.

“There’s still a big chunk of society that loves to have a book,” he said. “When they read novels, a lot of people like to have an artifact from that experience.”

To find out more about Lynch’s appearance at the Forks Library as well as other activities — and books in print, on CD and in other formats — at libraries across Clallam County’s North Olympic Library System, visit www.NOLS.org.

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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