“Empire Falls” won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with its downtrodden mill town and everyman hero.
The terrific novel “Nobody’s Fool” became a sweet movie starring Paul Newman.
“Bridge of Sighs” zeroes in on a town’s eccentric characters, some who stayed and some who left.
And it’s always beach-reading season with “That Old Cape Magic,” a silly and sad page-turner.
I haven’t made it through every one of Richard Russo’s books, but I’ve read those. Don’t give me a romance novel or a whodunit mystery. My favorite books tend to take an unflinching look at that mystifying, inescapable thing we call the human condition.
Russo gets it. He writes about working people, messed-up families, and lives that fall far short of the American dream — serious stuff. His genius is making it funny, too.
Readers are in for a treat when the Everett Public Library hosts Russo at a free event next month. He’ll talk about “Empire Falls,” which won the Pulitzer in 2002, and his other work at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Everett Performing Arts Center. He’ll sign books for the public at the end of the program.
A private reception with Russo will precede the author’s talk. It will start at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
Russo’s appearance will be the centerpiece of the library’s annual common-book program, which this year is being called “Ways to Read.” Local author Carole Estby Dagg and nonfiction science writer Mary Roach will also give talks, scheduled for Feb. 6 and April 9.
“This will be our first Pulitzer Prize winner,” Everett Public Library Director Eileen Simmons said Friday.
“I read ‘Empire Falls’ recently. The town’s mills have closed and the economy has changed drastically. Everett has certainly seen some of that. And the characters are wonderful,” Simmons said.
In years past, the library’s reading program has brought to Everett “The Boys in the Boat” author Daniel James Brown; “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” author Maria Semple; Garth Stein, author of “The Art of Racing in the Rain;” and best of all, Sherman Alexie, the award-winning writer and filmmaker raised on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
Russo is an upstate New York native who lives in Maine.
Kate Larsen, assistant library director, said two Everett Public Library endowments are paying for the programs.
The Genette Brocken Fund for Contemporary Fiction &Music Appreciation is funding Russo’s appearance. Roach — author of “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,” “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex,” and other books — will be here courtesy of the Friends of the Everett Public Library for Collection Excellence.
Receptions in Everett with Russo and Roach, along with a Valentine’s Day library event with bird expert and University of Washington professor John Mazluff, are partly aimed at encouraging Friends of the Library membership, Simmons said.
Friends of the Library, which costs a minimum of $25 per year to join, supports library programs not paid for by the city. The biggest expense most years is buying books as prizes for kids in the Everett library’s summer reading program. In 2015, Simmons said, HomeStreet Bank paid for the book prizes for 717 children who completed the program.
Claire Griffith has been part of Friends of the Library for about 25 years. “Everything we do is fun,” the Everett woman said.
The group, which meets monthly, helped with remodeling the children’s reading area.
“Once time we bought a doll house. We bought the bicycle rack out front. We bought picnic tables,” Griffith said. She recalled Friends’ fund-raising events, including gala spelling bees and a costume party at the library. A library, Griffith said, “holds a community together.”
Simmons said some Friends members write a $25 check and that’s it. Others donate much more and are involved in event planning.
“We have wonderful authors coming. It’s exciting to bring them to Everett,” Simmons said. “And more Friends would be a fantastic thing.”
“Empire Falls”Author events
The Everett Public Library will host several authors as part of its 2016 “Ways to Read” program:
Richard Russo, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Empire Falls,” is the featured speaker. He will appear at a free event at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave.
A private reception with Russo is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at the center. Tickets, $10 for Friends of the Library members or $25 for nonmembers, at: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2487312
More Ways to Read events:
Carole Estby Dagg, a local author, will give a free talk at 2 p.m. Feb. 6 at the downtown Everett Public Library, 2702 Hoyt Ave., about her book “Sweet Home Alaska,” a pioneering story based on real events.
Mary Roach, a nonfiction science author of the best sellers “Gulp,” “Bonk,” “Stiff,” and “Packing for Mars,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. April 9 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
Valentine’s Day event:
Friends of the Library will host a talk by University of Washington professor and bird expert John Marzluff at 2 p.m. Feb. 14 in the downtown library auditorium. He will talk about his book “Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife.” Includes cookies, a drawing for an iPad, and information about joining Friends of the Library.