Virtual Lit Live Kicks Off at Village Books

Virtual Lit Live! At Village Books!

Village Books is thrilled to kick off its Virtual Lit Live series with a trio of fantastic authors at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 30. Hear from Bellingham author and musician Ted O’Connell, Kristen Millares Young, and Noé Álvarez‏. They will read from and discuss their new books and will take questions from you. Ted, who plays with the Prozac Mtn Boys and The Scarlet Locomotive, will also provide a couple of musical selections, so this is one event you will not want to miss!
Ted’s publicist sent me a preview copy of his debut novel, “K,”  which Ted describes as “a darkly humorous dystopian tale” in which professor Francis Kauffman finds himself tossed into the notorious Kun Chong Prison after he unwittingly ignites a political insurrection at his Chinese university. From there, his sentence grows stranger by the hour as he struggles with the weight of his imprisonment and the secrets of his past.
This is a terrifying book to read during the pandemic. As I told Ted in an email, it made me lose sleep.
I usually like to conduct interviews myself with authors, but this interview with Colorado mystery writer Mark H. Stevens (the son of two librarians!!) has all the questions I had for Ted, and has a scintillating review of the book to boot.
Winner of the Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction, Ted’s creative products have been featured in literary magazines, taverns, and music halls throughout the country. A tenured faculty member at Skagit Valley College, he has twice served as a visiting professor in China. “K” made BuzzFeed News’ list of “21 Great Books from Small Presses” and received a glowing review from the New York Journal of Books, which claimed that K “reads like a mix of Orwell and Borges, with a dash of wide-eyed Kerouac.”
Kristen Millares Young is the author of “Subduction,” a Paris Review staff pick called “whip-smart” by the Washington Post. A prize-winning journalist and essayist, Kristen serves as Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House. Her reviews, essays and investigations appear in the Washington Post, Literary Hub, the Guardian, and elsewhere. She was the researcher for the New York Times team that produced “Snow Fall,” which won a Pulitzer Prize. From 2016 to 2019, she served as board chair of InvestigateWest, a nonprofit newsroom she co-founded to protect vulnerable peoples and places of the Pacific Northwest.
“Subduction” follows a Latinx anthropologist, Claudia, as she embarks on fieldwork on the Makah Indian Reservation carrying serious baggage – her husband just ran off with her sister. Claudia loses control as soon as she arrives in Neah Bay, where she begins an affair with Peter, the son of her best research participant. Claudia helps Peter’s family convey a legacy delayed for decades by the death of his father. But her presence, echoing centuries of fraught contact with indigenous peoples, brings lasting change and real damage.
Growing up in Yakima, Noé Álvarez worked at an apple-packing plant alongside his mother, who “slouched over a conveyor belt of fruit, shoulder to shoulder with mothers conditioned to believe this was all they could do with their lives.” Escape came in the form of a university scholarship, but as a first-generation Latino college-goer, Álvarez struggled to fit in. At 19, he learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across a North America older than its present political borders. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings.
Telling their stories alongside his own, “Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land” is about his four-month-long journey that pushed him to his limits. He writes not only of overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear—dangers included stone-throwing motorists and a mountain lion—but also of asserting Indigenous and working-class humanity in a capitalist society where oil extraction, deforestation, and substance abuse wreck communities. Running through mountains, deserts, and cities, and through the Mexican territory his parents left behind, Álvarez forges a new relationship with the land, and with the act of running, carrying with him the knowledge of his parents’ migration, and—against all odds in a society that exploits his body and rejects his spirit—the dream of a liberated future. He lives in Boston, where, until recently, he worked as a security officer at one of the nation’s oldest libraries, the Boston Athenæum. Find out more at

Open mic is open (online)!

Village Books’ monthly Open Mic Night is back and it’s going virtual at 7 p.m. Monday, May 25. Village Books invites everyone to enjoy local talents as they share their own stories, poems and essays! Published and unpublished writers are encouraged to attend and enjoy a welcoming audience. Our regular emcee and celebrated local author Seán Dwyer will host as he does every month. Sean teaches Spanish at Western Washington University and his memoir, “A Quest for Tears: Surviving Traumatic Brain Injury” continues to be a bestseller at Village Books. He is also the author of a number of published short stories. As an advocate for other writers, he hosts the open mic at Village Books. Pre-registration to read is required and spaces are limited so please email Sean at to secure your spot! Click here to attend the event.