The King County Council members in a twitch of creativity and display of personality chose to name each floor of the new Chinook Building, each member having a chance to name a floor after a favorite local person. While some element of authenticity may have been sacrificed for political correctness as the choices as a whole seem to be utterly diverse in every conceivable way, nonetheless the list of the floor names is an interesting one. I certainly was not familiar with all the names and enjoyed reading about them. The list of floors, recently published by the County, is here. Its kind of cool.
It was the first floor that caught my eye when I first read the list. The first floor is Ivan Doig. Ivan Doig? (As in basketball this year, I believe that Portland outshines Seattle in its accumulation of authors, so why call attention to it by picking Doig?) He is of course celebrated now local writer of western/adventure/coming of age stories. But they are set in Eastern Montana, where he was born and raised! Oh, there was Sea Runners, but that was Alaska. Winter Brothers was about settling in the Puget Sound area, but Plowing the Dark was set in Seattle and King County and Richard Powers actually won the National Book Award, not just honorable mention.
Doig lives in the County and taught or teaches at the U, so that’s a connection. But other authors live/lived here as well. How about Sherman Alexie, Timothy Egan, Mary McCarthy, Augie Wilson, Jonathan Raban, Tom Robbins (sort of a resident), Theodore Roethke (poetry is writing). And why a writer and not some other type of artist? In defense of his selection of a book writer, Bob Ferguson says that Doig wrote poems, memoirs and essays too. I guess that seals it. This tells us that Bob is either a little light on local history, a trifle callow in the literature department, or didn’t understand the assignment.