Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

The Northwest Authors Series seeks submissions for the Second Annual Writers’ Read Celebration planned for Feb. 28 at the library.

The deadline for submission of essays, stories, poems and other literary writings on the theme “Views From the North Coast” is Jan. 17.

This is an opportunity to write about your relationship to the north coast, to describe your vision of the north coast, to explain what draws you here and how you feel connected to these surroundings.

Authors may submit as many as three items (poems, essays, short stories, profiles, descriptions and so forth). Each entry, however, is limited to no more than 600 words.

They should be emailed to, or postal delivered to the Cannon Beach Library, P.O. Box 486, Cannon Beach, OR  97110. Accompany the entries with a separate cover letter containing the writer’s name, email address and telephone number.

A panel of judges will read all entries and ask as many as 10 authors to read submissions at the Writers Read Celebration.

Here’s another early announcement: Fisherpoets - Jon Broderick, Dave Densmore, Geno Leech, Rob Seitz and Jay Speakman - will read their original poetry and play their tunes at a special event sponsored by the Northwest Authors Series on Jan. 19 at 2 p.m.

This event shouldn’t be missed. Last winter, the fisherpoets proved they could rock a packed library. Be there or be square, to paraphrase the Beat Generation.

Cannon Beach Reads begins its14th year of discussing important fiction and nonfiction by Pacific Northwest, American and international authors. Members of Cannon Beach Reads will discuss “Oregon’s Greatest Natural Disasters” by Eugene author William L Sullivan on Jan. 15 from 7-8:30 p.m.

The group welcomes anyone interested in participating to join this monthly conversation.

Celebrated for his popular books about hiking trails in scenic regions of Oregon, Sullivan writes a geological history of Oregon’s earthquakes, tsunamis, Ice Age and historic floods, massive forest fires, volcanoes and historic storms.

“Oregon’s Greatest Natural Disasters” describes the effects of an expected Cascadia subduction earthquake and tsunami striking the Pacific Northwest, a subduction event such as the Pacific Northwest experienced in 1700.

Sullivan shows his gift for fiction in this book with a speculative account of life on the Oregon coast a week after such a disaster. This juxtaposition of fictional characters against a scientific description of yet another great Oregon disaster drives the point home.

Expect massive destruction from a 9.2 megaquake 60 miles off the Oregon coast, as soon as next week or in another 600 years. Get ready for the big one, though, if you live anywhere west of the Cascades.

In a book market awash with largely partisan titles focused on The Donald, I recommend Kurt Andersen’s “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, A 500-Year History,” still available at the library.

Unlike the current tsunami of partisan books devoted to Trump, “Fantasyland” describes a long American history of dreamers, explorers, charlatans, speculators, hucksters, entertainers, gold diggers, spiritualists, utopians, religious dissidents, financial schemers, medical fakers and fantasists … all practitioners of what Andersen defines as magical thinking, a confusing and often entertaining mixture of reality and fiction.

This 500 years of American magical thought began with Columbus claiming discovery of India. Among many examples, this history includes the Salem witch trials, P.T. Barnum’s fake curiosities, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows, mythic re-creation of a genteel antebellum American South, Walt Disney’s “Frontierland,” hippie communes of the 1970s, more recently President Reagan’s confusion about fighting or just appearing in films during WWII, and most recently Trump’s birtherism assertions and 15,413 documented misstatements and lies during his first 1,055 days in office.

Andersen argues that Martin Luther first unleashed magical thinking with his emphasis on everyman, with bible in hand, acting as his own priest capable of forming his own biblical interpretations, and thereby undermining the authority of the Catholic Church as well as civil authorities.

In 1608, with four words - “No bishop, no king” - King James I succinctly rejected Puritan efforts to replace the authority of bishops in the Church of England with a “priesthood of all believers.” British Puritans split for Holland, and ultimately introduced magical thinking to North America when they founded the Plymouth Plantation in 1620. Individualism took root and spread like kudzu.

Andersen and E. Graydon Carter co-edited New York’s satirical “Spy” magazine during the 1980s and 1990s. They chose Donald Trump as the embodiment of an era of crass greed. They relentlessly tortured Trump, regularly referring to him in “Spy” coverage as a “short-fingered vulgarian,” a label Marco Rubio resurrected during the 2016 campaign with references to Trump’s small hands.

Although “Fantasyland” offers context for Trump’s popularity and electoral success, Andersen first mentions the short-fingered vulgarian on page 241 of this 440-page tome. “Fantasyland” explains American confusion in the 21st Century; but, despite Andersen’s past mockery of Trump, this last American president mercifully is not his focus.


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