Free Copies Of GRAPHIC THE VALLEY Today To The First 75 People Who Respond


Novel forthcoming in July, 2013

Tyrus Books is running a flash giveaway of my first novel, Graphic The Valley, today in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks. The first 75 people who click the link above and contact Tyrus will get a free hard-copy sent to their mailing addresses.


Best of 2013 Lists

LET THEM BE EATEN BY BEARS just made Parents Magazine “Top 5 Books of 2013” list:

And GRAPHIC THE VALLEY was chosen for LitReactor’s “Best Books Of 2013”:

I’m so grateful to be included on their lists.

Dirtbagging, Climbing, And A Good Books Weekend

Lifting books weights with Willie Vlautin, PNBA Feast of Authors event

Lifting book weights with Willie Vlautin, PNBA Feast of Authors event

Grateful for five days at the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association trade show, Castle Rock State Park, and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association “Feast Of Authors.” I learned once again that most people are wonderful. The authors were sharp and funny, humble and grateful. Booksellers were looking to promote authors and titles, and doing their work out of love for stories. And climbers are always excellent to be around.

We started the weekend in San Francisco, at the NCIBA author event, a speed-dating experience where an author pitches his book to bookseller after bookseller in fifteen-second conversations, an excellent way to get an elevator pitch down. If she likes me, I sign a book and give it to her. If I’m not what she’s looking for, she walks away. Simple and clean.

Ben Leroy, my publisher, and I went from San Francisco into Castle Rock State Park where we got to climb with locals, including the superhero John Ford, who took hours out of his climbing day to show us around and point out classic after classic.

After hiking west into the sunlight, we camped tentless in a grove of Madrones that night, sharing food and campsite with a guy we met, living the dirtbag ethic.

Then on to Portland on Monday and Tuesday. It was fun hanging out with Willie Vlautin, Tom Barbash, C.B. Bernard, Benjamin Parzybok, and Brian Juenemann from the PNBA.

A few pics:

Backpacking into Castle Rock State Park with Ben

Backpacking into Castle Rock State Park with Ben

First ascent, "Independent Witnesses", Castle Rock, CA

First ascent, “Independent Witnesses” variation, Castle Rock, CA

Camping with a good guy named Joe

Camping with Ben and a good guy named Joe

Shown around by a local, John Ford

Shown around by the local climber, John Ford

Interview With Northern Spirit Radio

Because of the publicity campaigns for Let Them Be Eaten By Bears and Graphic the Valley, I was fortunate enough to do forty or so radio interviews this summer with local, regional, and national radio shows. So I talked to a lot of hosts, some of whom had read the books and liked the writing or the message, and were willing to promote outdoor education or literary writing in general.

In many of these conversations, I realized how positive radio hosts are, how supportive they are of the arts, how much a lot of them love books and storytelling. As a group, radio hosts are good people doing a job they seem to love. So it was a fun summer for me.

Every once in a while, a radio interview feels like a conversation with a friend, like a long involved talk about life and what’s important to both people. My interview on Wisconsin’s syndicated Northern Spirit Radio was like that. We talked about Graphic the Valley, and the host, Mark Judkins Helpsmeet, was a thoughtful and involved reader. He engaged with the novel in a way an author can only hope for. He considered the extended metaphors and had insights I hadn’t considered.

Plus, Helpsmeet recently made wild-rice and acorn burgers at his rural home in Wisconsin. And if that isn’t something that Tenaya’s parents would do, I don’t know what is. Helpsmeet has a perspective on the novel that most readers don’t ( he had a wandering cougar down by his canoe a while back), and that’s just one of the reasons that this interview was one of my favorites.

Wall Street Journal and Biblical Perspectives On Novels

Two Biblical perspectives on Graphic the Valley in the past day. Interesting. This weekend, the novel was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal Saturday/Sunday edition as part of an article that connected Graphic to J.M. Coetzee’s new book, The Childhood of Jesus.

Also, freelance writer Andrew Weber blogged about Graphic the Valley, an interesting take as well (…The core of the story’s conflict lies in the tension between two versions of the human ideal…).

Click here to read Weber’s post.

Because many people aren’t online subscribers to The Wall Street Journal, here’s the full text of the WSJ book review.

‘There are prophets and there are judges. . . . Both are holy, but they have different jobs.” So says a character in Peter Brown Hoffmeister’s “Graphic the Valley” (Tyrus, 271 pages, $24.95), a vigorously original retelling of the Samson and Delilah story set in Yosemite. The speaker means that judges must be men of action; he is talking to Tenaya, a Yosemiti Indian who has been charged with the duty of protecting the valley from commercial developers and is our stand-in for the Bible’s ultimate wild man, Samson.

Tenaya was born and raised in an illegal settlement in the park, where he was taught by his zealous father never to forget his people’s ancient claims on the land. Mr. Hoffmeister, an experienced outdoorsman and magazine writer, marvelously harnesses the valley’s natural wonders to convey Tenaya’s strange magnetism toward primal violence: “Ravens fought in front of me,” he observes upon climbing a solitary mountain pass, “a physical argument, not loud with squawking, not like the crows on the Valley floor. I saw one raven drop and slam the body of another from behind, the second one rolling.”

Inevitably, Tenaya is seduced by his Delilah, in this case a woman named McKenzie who works in public relations for the development firm bringing fast-food franchises and other sacrilegious tourist traps into the park. At moments, when the story forces its one-to-one connections with Scripture, a bit of allegory exhaustion settles over the book (the infamous haircut scene, for example, is shoehorned in almost as an afterthought). But the avenging destruction wrought by both Tenaya and the natural world is captured with beauty and aplomb. Mr. Hoffmeister brings a newfound sense of urgency to one of the Bible’s oldest and strangest tales.

It’s Hard To Write When You’re Reading – On A Summer Reading List

As my old poetry professor Dorianne Luax said, “It’s difficult to read when you’re writing.” And the novelist Seth Kantner told me that he always gets the writer’s voice in his head and has trouble creating anything that’s truly his own – the worst being anything by Annie Proulx because she’s too good.

So as I was writing my new novel this summer, a novel that is nowhere near ready or good in its current draft form, I’ve tried to read varied, talented writers, writers that might inspire me with their voices, imagery, plot, or narrative arcs.

I’ve mostly written this summer, but these are the books that I’ve read and a few reactions:

– After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

– The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

– Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter

– The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

– The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

– Ablutions: Notes on a Novel by Patrick deWitt

– Collected Stories – Flannery O’Connor

– Sartoris by William Faulkner

– The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin

– Northline by Willy Vlautin

Notes and short rants on these books in no particular order –

First, Willy Vlautin is the real deal. When reviewers say he’s like the secret love child of Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Carver, they’re not exaggerating. He’s that good. Gritty, honest, and true. Every character feels real. And his books are full of sad hope.

After You’d Gone is so complex structurally that I wonder how O’Farrell put it together. The story is rich and textured, the characters believable in all their human failings. I loved this book.

On Sartoris: I have to stop reading minor works by major writers. Faulkner in As I Lay Dying is incredible. Faulkner in his minor “potboilers” is atrocious. Sartoris has so many adverbs, it’s like a creative writing class joke assignment.

I’ll admit that I read The Virgin Suicides with (as the editor/agent Betsy Lerner calls) the author’s competitive reading spirit. The Virgin Suicides earned two starred reviews as a debut novel. I wanted to earn two starred reviews for my debut novel. But the comparisons stopped there. Eugenides’ novel was brilliant and scary satire and my novel Graphic the Valley is neither.

While I read The Bell Jar, I remembered reading On The Road by Jack Kerouac. These books should not be read out of their time period because more is expected of contemporary writers than novelists of the middle 20th century. Kerouac’s writing on jazz makes me want to throw up as does Plath’s over-dramatization and championing of a real-life struggle with depression. While Plath’s imagery is still beautiful, she repeats images in a way that would get a modern novelist rejected by a discerning editor. This novel does not stand up to her incredible poetry, or to time.

Pale Horse, Pale Rider is three short novels put together, and the second is the best. I wondered if Porter influenced Hemingway’s career. They had to have read each other, and I like to imagine Ernest on a hunting trip, sitting by the fire, leaning back and reading Porter, thinking, “Damn, she’s pretty good.”

I can’t wait for Patrick deWitt’s next novel. If it’s anything like The Sisters Brothers, I’ll read it in a day. Ablutions was dark and short but when the narrator swallows his own rotten tooth, I laughed out loud. deWitt has the rare ability to make his reader laugh at anything.

The Art of Fielding is one of those long first novels that you never want to end. Harbach makes the reader care about each character, each person’s desire, and the addictions that we justify.

Finally, have you ever heard of Flannery O’Connor? Yeah, you have? David Sedaris once wrote that he would love to iron her clothes while she sat and told him stories. I feel the same way.