July WordFest explores our past

WordFest will highlight aspects of our region’s history at the next event on Tuesday, July 11, 6:00-8:00 pm, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1428 22nd Avenue in Longview.

Hal Calbom will be reading an excerpt from his new history of Longview, Empire of Trees, concerning the tense business negotiations and cat-and-mouse play between two Mr. Longs: Longview’s founder Robert A. Long and George S. Long, the wily river boat gambler who managed western operations for the Weyerhaeuser Company. Their negotiations would make or break Longview and Long-Bell Lumber Company.

A writer, educator, and filmmaker, Hal grew up in Longview, graduating from R.A. Long High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard College and a master’s in English from the University of Exeter in Devonshire, England. His other books include Sustainable Solutions: The Business of Green, and Resourceful: Leadership and Communications in the Relationship Age. Winner of five regional Emmy Awards for television writing and production, he writes the monthly “People + Place” feature for Columbia River Reader.

Rebekah Anderson will read from The Grand Promise, a historical novel about the impacts to the communities on the Columbia River in the 1930s with the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam. A town is uprooted by the New Deal public works project, resulting in personal and financial dilemmas for the Price family as well as other families in the community.

The massive project was destined to bring prosperity to the Pacific Northwest, but would also destroy the family’s home and their town, and radically alter the lives of the indigenous people who had sustained themselves on the Columbia River for generations.

Rebekah is a native Washingtonian whose family came to the Pacific Northwest with the Homesteading Act. She earned an MFA in Fiction from New York University, where she studied with the novelist E.L. Doctorow (Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, The March.) The novel is loosely based on her family’s history. 

Tom Larsen will be reading from his mystery novel, Stealing History, which tells the story of Wilson Salinas who returns to Ecuador after 15 years in the U.S. Broke, disillusioned, and an alcoholic, he ekes out a living running errands for an elderly attorney who befriended his late mother. As a boy, Wilson loved to read detective stories, and he decides to become a private detective.

He is soon embroiled in a case involving a mysterious stolen artifact. The trail leads him deep into the Amazon jungle, the home of the Shuar, an indigenous people who have never been conquered by the white man. Along the way, Wilson learns some hard truths about himself, the woman he is falling in love with, and his best friend from childhood. 

Tom is the author of four novels and numerous short stories in the crime genre and won the 2020 Black Orchid Novella Award. His short story,Pobre Maria,” will appear in the 2023 edition of Best Mystery Stories of the Year from Mysterious Press.  

An open mic will follow the presentations.

The monthly gathering of readers and writers meets the second Tuesday of each month, 6:00-8:00 PM, in the fellowship hall of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. The events are free and open to the public.