As "Skookum Summer" begins, the year is 1981, and reporter Tom Dawson slinks back to his tiny Puget Sound hometown after making a disastrous mistake at the" LA Times." Working reluctantly at the local weekly, the "Big Skookum Echo," Tom is drawn into investigating a powerful logger's murder. As the mystery deepens, the murder exposes the strains on the community as pollutiAs "Skookum Summer" begins, the year is 1981, and reporter Tom Dawson slinks back to his tiny Puget Sound hometown after making a disastrous mistake at the" LA Times." Working reluctantly at the local weekly, the "Big Skookum Echo," Tom is drawn into investigating a powerful logger's murder. As the mystery deepens, the murder exposes the strains on the community as pollution, development, and global change threaten traditional Northwest livelihoods. It also forces Tom to confront his own past and discover what home really means to him. Hart weaves together a gripping and suspenseful plot with richly observed Pacific Northwest history and a vivid picture of a community on the brink of change.Jack Hart is a former managing editor and writing coach at the "Oregonian" and the author of "Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction."...
|Number of Pages||:||300 Pages|
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Skookum Summer Reviews
Last February, while browsing the massive book fair at the Seattle AWP conference, one book at the University of Washington Press booth caught my eye. In its provisional pre-publication proof state, the cover of Skookum Summer: A Novel of the Pacific Northwest looked forlorn, with its simple image of an orange-toned crosscut view of an old-growth log rising like the sun behind a mountain range. Skookum is a Chinook Jargon word meaning good, strong, or powerful. Since I enjoy Northwest fiction and Pacific Northwest history, I picked it up. Murder, meth and mayhem among old-growth timber, as well as a man’s quest to come to terms with his mistakes, are topics covered in Jack R. Hart’s debut novel. I learned that Mr. Hart had been a journalist; and I’ve found that journalists often make excellent fiction writers, so I ordered it. Skookum Summer is the tale of Tom Dawson, a hometown guy who makes it big as a hotshot news reporter at the LA Times. After making a mistake at the Times that gets him fired, he moves back to the small, fictional Klahowya County logging town where he was raised, to be near his mother, who is undergoing cancer treatment. He reluctantly returns to work at the Big Skookum Echo, where he worked as a teenager. As luck would have it, the summer of 1981 is filled with a murder investigation and several other big news stories that Tom investigates. In examining the underbelly of the town, he also unravels the mystery of himself and the self-centered hubris that has been his downfall. Jack Hart does a wonderful job of painting a picture of small town Olympic Peninsula life during a time when everything is changing. Characters are well developed and the plot is interesting and engaging throughout the book. Some of the backwoods dialect reflected in the dialog becomes somewhat tiresome, and one of the storyline resolutions is not foreshadowed thoroughly enough to be believable or satisfying. However, overall, this is a very enjoyable read for anyone who enjoys Northwest fiction. I was fortunate enough to attend Mr. Hart’s book launch event at Elliott Bay Book Company and found him to be a modest man, who shared his experience of transitioning from a nonfiction writer to a novelist. He mentioned that he humbly received advice on the craft of fiction writing from many friends and colleagues—some of which he shared with us—and he stated that writing fiction was much harder than he anticipated. The Northwest has some excellent writers, such as Jim Lynch (who wrote a blurb for Skookum Summer), Jonathan Evison and David Guterson, among many others. Jack Hart belongs in this category and I hope he writes more novels that are set in the PNW. This review was originally published at http://voices.yahoo.com/book-review-s....
Part of the fun of this great novel is that it is set in the Shelton Washington area(though the town is renamed Skookum for the novel) and is written by an someone who clearly knows and loves the area. It is told in flashback, the action taking place in 1981 when the Shelton area was suffering from recession and changes to the logging industryThe protagonist, Tom Dawson, grew up in Skookum, went to UW, became a rising newspaper star in Los Angeles but is forced to return to Skookum after after being justifiably fired due to his involvement in a newspaper scandal caused by his sloppy reporting. Dawson is now working for a small weekly newspaperMuch of the novel centers about Dawson's reporting on the murder of a local logger, but while there is suspense in solving the murder, this is not a traditional mystery book, it is much better and complex than that. Instead the murder sets the context of a novel that discusses journalistic ethics, nuances of the environment vs logging controversy of the 80s, ambition of a young man wanting to escape small town life who slowly appreciates its values
I enjoyed the book for the setting in a small town west-ish of Olympia, Washington, the story of a journalist returning home (in disgrace), how he "finds" himself, and a complex , good mystery. Obviously written by someone who knows the area well and cares about it very much. Definitely worth reading.
I enjoyed this book for the Puget Sound history and background story.
Very interesting plot, really well written. It did have it's flaws (like all books) but overall I enjoyed it!