Monday, December 9, 2013

Writers Anonymous

If there's one thing my writer's group Writers Anonymous doesn't tolerate, it's boring writing.

Every Thursday night in Portland, I print my latest piece and head to one of the four or five rotating dining rooms where WA meets to critique each other's work. It became very clear early on that each piece I bring in had better not lag. I can feel the sighs of my fellow attendees viscerally, inwardly cringe at every stifled yawn. If I make it through my five or so minute reading with a sense that I didn't put anyone to sleep, I know I'm getting somewhere.

This process has yielded two books thus far by WA members, both of which would make perfect Christmas reading. The first is Breakfast: A History by Portland Mercury food writer Heather Arndt Anderson. A book about breakfast? Yes, and one that is engaging and urbane and fun. Heather has a knack for writing about food, and this book oozes like a broken egg yoke with her wealth of culinary knowledge, witty asides, and delicious quotes from days of breakfast yore. If you don't this book, I'll eat beef tongue for breakfast for a month.

And Heather is speaking tomorrow night at the Jack London Pub on Riot Grrls in 1913 Portland. Go see her!

The second book is God is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell. You know what the problem is with the Bible, besides it having more baggage than a cross-country TWA flight? Its wealth of wisdom is buried in verbiage that can be abstruse, and all that begetting and begetting. Come on, get to the point. This is a shame, because the Bible has more value than any other work of literature I've ever read. Mark Russell sets out to cure this weighty text of its encumbrances and give us only what's beautiful, riveting, relevant. Within GIDIY, each book of the Bible is reduced to two or three pages, and each is revitalized by Russell's wit and the pen New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler. You will laugh. A lot. If you don't like this book, I'll eat myrrh.

And if you don't believe me, believe the trailer

Plenty more will come from this talented group of folks, so don't fall behind now. Buy and read Breakfast: A History and God is Disappointed in You. You will not be disappointed in you.

Yours in laying down the law,


Read the blurb of Badge.

Or read an excerpt of Badge.

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