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Book of the Week: The Oregon Experiment, by Keith Scribner

the_oregon_experiment-450x670This week’s featured title is Keith Scribner’s The Oregon Experiment. Published last month by Knopf, this book is Scribner’s third novel. His first, The GoodLife, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2000. He is also the author of the 2003 novel Miracle Girl.

Scribner’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in such places as TriQuarterly, American Short Fiction, Quarterly West, The North Atlantic Review, the San Jose Mercury News, the Baltimore Sun, and the anthologies Flash Fiction Forward (W.W. Norton) and Sudden Stories: The MAMMOTH Book of Miniscule Fiction. He received both Pushcart and O’Henry Prize Honorable Mentions for his short story, “Paradise in a Cup” (TriQuarterly, #121).

Scribner currently lives in Oregon with his wife, the poet Jennifer Richter, and their children. He teaches in Oregon State University’s MFA program and is a fellow at OSU’s Center for the Humanities. In the introduction of his recent interview with the author, fellow Oregonian and FWR contributor J.T. Bushnell writes:

One of the things I like most about Keith Scribner’s new novel, The Oregon Experiment, is that it gets the weather right. It’s true that western Oregon is often as rainy and overcast as it is rendered, but stories set here largely ignore our bright, hot summers, the shocking color and gilded light in our springs and autumns. Not Scribner. “No sun like Oregon sun,” one character explains to another in the novel’s opening pages, even as thick fog—“Dickensian fog”—envelops them. “Warm honey in a deep blue sky.”

It’s an accurate description the afternoon I visit Scribner’s office in the Autzen House, a historic brick building that sits among small, well-maintained properties in the heart of Corvallis. The street is lined with trees, more varieties than I can identify—here a few maples and a towering elm, there a row of ginkgos and an apple, the spring air brisk on my bare arms when I pass through their shadows.

The neighborhood is quiet and peaceful, not the type of place you would imagine as a hub for anarchists and hooligans and secessionists, riots and terrorism and police brutality—not until you’ve read Scribner’s book. The Oregon Experiment takes place in a small college town like this one. The title comes from both a promise between a husband and wife and a radical movement for the secession of the Pacific Northwest, each resulting in its own kind of civil war, which turns streets like this one into battlegrounds. The result is a fascinating political thriller and beautifully imagined literary work, which is not an easy combination to pull off.

Via author's website

Via author's website

To read the rest of this interview with Keith Scribner, please click here.

For more on The Oregon Experiment, or other work by Keith Scribner, please visit the author’s website.

You can also win one of three signed copies of this book, which we’ll be giving away next week to three of our Twitter followers. If you’d like to be eligible for this giveaway (and all future ones), simply click over to Twitter and “follow” us (@fictionwriters).

To all of you who are already fans, thank you!

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