The remote hamlet of Mazama, Wash., will host its first literary festival, the Mazama Festival of Books on Aug. 18 and 19, and has begun announcing the authors who will attend.
Located on the eastern side of the Cascade mountain range near the Canadian border, Mazama is about 3.5 hours from Seattle and four hours from Spokane. If that seems a long way to drive for culture, it might not be for those in the Pacific Northwest. There's already a major music festival, Sasquatch, which is held at The Gorge, a stunning natural amphitheater in the mountains almost three hours from Seattle. The environment is part of the attraction.
Admittedly, Sasquatch's roster of bands is also pretty breathtaking. This year, when it was held over Memorial Day weekend, performers included Jack White, Beck, the Roots, Bon Iver, the Dum Dum Girls, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Spiritualized, Blitzen Trapper, the Walkmen, Mark Lanegan, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, St. Vincent, the Civil Wars, M. Ward, Explosions in the Sky, Feist and many, many more.
The inaugural Festival of Books schedule won't be nearly as jampacked -- or as loud. Its lineup so far leans heavily toward authors from the Pacific Northwest, led by Washington poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken. Other authors include children's book author and illustrator Erik Brooks, young-adult author Blake Nelson and memoirists Lidia Yuknavitch and Colleen Mondor. Also on the bill are the novelists Jim Lynch, Pauls Toutonghi, Ryan Boudinot and Danbert Nobacon -- the latter of whom started out as a founding member of the anarchist pop group Chumbawumba, giving the literary festival its own little dose of rock 'n' roll. Katherine Lanpher is on tap as an interviewer. Additional authors are expected to be announced in July.
All festival events will be free. It will be presented by the Methow Valley Arts Alliance, the Trails End Bookstore and the Mazama Country Inn. That inn may come in handy because if you plan to attend, you'll have to find a place to stay (though there are other hotels nearby).
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: The Mazama, Wash., landscape. Credit: Bill Pope