Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

With Labor Day Weekend a memory, Cannon Beach residents anticipate a gradual decline in the numbers of visitors and vehicles in our village, as September bookends blue skies and warm afternoons with crisp mornings and evenings.  

At the Cannon Beach Library, members and volunteers anticipate a new year of the Northwest Authors Series, continued Cannon Beach Reads discussions of important fiction and non-fiction, and such special events as the annual “Fall Festival.”

This year’s “Fall Festival” is scheduled for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 28 at the library, 131 N. Hemlock.  

For the past month and into September, library members and volunteers have focused on the festival, where north coast residents and visitors can discover unique and reasonably priced handmade craft items. While checking off items from their holiday shopping lists, they also will find homemade baked goods - cookies, pies, rolls, breads and so forth - irresistible.

Generous donations of gift certificates from 53 Cannon Beach merchants and five Cannon Beach hotels highlight the “Fall Festival.” Certificates from Cannon Beach merchants are bundled for drawings, and a silent auction will determine winners of certificates for hotel stays. Winners of the certificate drawings and of the silent auctions will be announced at 4 p.m. the day of the festival.  

Drawing tickets can be purchased and bids entered throughout September, during library hours, until the drawing and silent auction occur. Participants in the drawings and bidding need not be present to win.

The “Fall Festival” is a free event, open to residents and visitors, with all proceeds supporting the Cannon Beach Library. Crafters and bakers interested in contributing handmade crafts or homemade baked goods are encouraged to volunteer. For more information, stop by the library, call the office at 503-436-1391, or email info@cannonbeachlibrary.org.

The Cannon Beach Reads group will discuss “Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics” by Stephen Greenblatt in the library on Sept. 18, 7-8:30 p.m. Copies of “Tyrant” are available at the library and for purchase at Cannon Beach Book Company.  

Cannon Beach Reads is a free event open to the public. Anyone interested may join the discussion. Refreshments will be served.

Greenblatt, John Cogan University professor of the humanities at Harvard University, received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2012 for “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.”

“Tyrant” offers a subtle examination of Shakespeare’s dramatic focus on various aspects of tyrannical rulers in an era of absolutist monarchs, especially during the reigns of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and James I (1603-1625). In doing so Greenblatt emphasizes how personally dangerous stage presentations were for authors who commented on contemporary monarchs, including Elizabeth and James.  

This, according to Greenblatt, explains why Shakespeare was particularly careful to draw his subject matter from historical periods well removed from their reigns.

“Tyrant” offers a particularly clever discussion of Shakespeare’s depiction of tyrannical monarchs. Whether interpreting “Richard III,” “Macbeth,” “King Lear,” Leontes in “The Winter Tale,” “Titus Andronicus” or “Coriolanus,” Greenblatt never mentions President Donald Trump. Even so, this discussion of Shakespeare’s staged tyrants echoes contemporary press discussions of The Donald’s 2016 campaign and 33 months in office.

Greenblatt makes sure his readers recognize his allusions to Trump’s tyrannical character traits, Trump’s congressional supporters, contemporary partisanship and government inaction in the same way that Shakespeare made sure his audience for “Richard III” recognized allusions to the politics of Elizabeth’s reign. Elizabeth’s grandfather, after all, killed Richard III in 1485 to reign as Henry VII (1495-1509).  

Greenblatt, in his study of Shakespeare’s tyrannical characters, illustrates how a gifted playwright made topical allusions and political comments without losing his hands, or worse, to paranoid and absolute monarchs. Greenblatt might say he’s criticizing only plays about monarchs lost to history and note that he never mentions Trump in what becomes a devastating veiled critique of our current president.

Novelist Stephen Holgate, a native Oregonian who served as a diplomat with the American Embassy for four years in Morocco, opens the Northwest Authors Series for 2019-2020 at 2 p.m. Oct. 12. Holgate published “Tangier,” his first novel, in 2017, followed by “Madagascar,” his second novel, a year later. He also has published several short stories and numerous freelance articles. Additionally, he successfully produced a one-man play.  

In “Tangier,” Holgate follows Christopher Chaffee, a disgraced Washington power broker whose father, a French diplomat, died in a Vichy French prison in 1944 - or so Christopher believed, until a letter posted decades earlier arrived and upended his life. This introduces a second tale of espionage and betrayal, set in Morocco during WWII. Rene Laurent, Christopher’s father, struggles to maintain his integrity, and his life, in dangerous wartime Tangiers.  

The two stories gradually intertwine as Christopher unravels the mystery of his father’s fate, and Laurent becomes trapped in a web of lies, corruption and the arms of a woman he knows he should not trust.

In “Madagascar,” Holgate follows Robert Knott, a political officer in the U.S. Embassy at Antananarivo, Madagascar, with little to do. Knott’s career has hit bottom. He’s estranged from his 15-year-old daughter, who lives in the U.S. with his ex-wife.  

Knott turns to the gaming tables of the Zebu Room and finds himself in debt to Maurice Picard, the casino owner, a retired but dangerous soldier of fortune. To relieve his debt, Knott agrees to launder Madagascar currency through the embassy cashier. Knott also finds purpose in helping Walt Sackett, an American cattleman that corrupt officials have imprisoned.

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