Jim Lynch is no stranger to the Northwest. He grew up in the Puget Sound and while his career as a professional journalist took him around the country, he returned seven years ago to the Northwest where his two recent and critically acclaimed novels are set. The books are lyrical meditations on the geography of Northwest and the people who inhabit a landscape that is pinched between the mountains and the sea on the edge of the continent. In his most recent novel, Border Songs, Lynch focuses on the imaginary line that separates America from its hockey and health care loving neighbor to the north. It's an imaginary line that seems to be growing more hard and volatile in our age of immigrant insecurity and post 9/11 boogeymen.
Lynch who swings through Central Oregon next week on a book tour that begins by boat in the San Juan, Islands, is keenly aware of the arbitrariness of the imagined border and the absurdity that it inherently breeds. He finds an easy manifestation of the awkward topographic delineation in his title character, Brandon Vanderkool, a lumbering, idiot savant who is banished from the family farming business because of his ineptitude.
A rainman of sorts who can name any species of bird by the sound of its wings, Brandon serves a soft metaphor for the absurdity surrounding the politics of the U.S. border where neighbors who share the same street, but not same flag, are locked into a simmering feud as the invisible line separating their countries seems to grow. Like estranged siblings, the border residents on either side of the line talk at but rarely to each other. And like all simmering pots, it's only a matter of time before this one boils over as marijuana smuggling is eclipsed by a new more dangerous brand of trafficking.
Jim Lynch will be in town this weekend for readings and signings in Redmond and Sunriver.
Author Jim Lynch
Fri. Aug. 13, Paulina Springs Books, Redmond 422 SW 6th St.
Sat. Aug. 14, Sunriver Books, Sunriver Village Mall.
Sun. Aug. 15 Paulina Springs Books, Sisters. 252, W. Hood Ave.
Readings are free and open to the public.