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MONICA DRAKE: PORTLAND AUTHOR, DETECTIVE, DELIGHT

monica drake

Book cover for THE FOLLY OF LOVING LIFE. Image via electricliterature.com

 

 

Tell me a better Oregon name than Monica Drake, then show me a better story collection.

 

Oregon Ducks and Monica Drake? Perfect combination.

Oregon State Beavers and Monica Nutria? Not so much.

In her short story collection, The Folly Of Loving Life, Monica Drake gives TRUTH to this writers’ advice:

Only write what you’d never want anyone to know about you.

Buy it here.

Like a Portland detective on the case, Drake peels back layers of veneer to show what’s under the facade we all show the world.

And you need to look as she solves case after case.

Twenty case studies in Folly add up to the sort of Portland portrait that sits on a Portland Park Blocks bench near Portland State University.

Plugged in, tuned out, waiting for a friend to throw a fateful Frisbee that opens doors, shuts doors, and nearly smashes your hand.

Monica Drake draws on the sort of insights you only get from being there, from showing up and joining someone else’s party with all the party favors you don’t want.

But hey, it’s a party. Dig in.

She sits behind the wheel as she drives down the road, but understands why you keep your steering hand at the ready.

That inevitable crash is just around the corner, and she’s sharing the ride.

===

Looking like a southern gothic, I’m going with Carson McCullers, Monica Drake took the stage for Willamette Writers monthly meeting with the same long hair she has as a kid on the book cover.

Why change what’s working?

At the beginning she talked about a medical problem that sidelined her, a mentor who inspired her, to a roomful of people chasing their writer dreams.

But there was that other thing rolling around the Old Church.

Hope.

Here was a woman standing up and laying it out, a cringe-worthy, joy-inducing hour, to help show Portland’s other side of its metro coin.

===

I started reading Folly once I got home, putting aside my task of finishing Tom Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel.

Wolfe wrung out his hometown so well that he didn’t go home for eight years after the book was published.

Asheville, North Carolina, renamed Altamont, didn’t appreciate the smear from one of their own.

They hated him for the trashing he administered, then in a later book hated him for not including them.

We know more about North Carolina than we ever needed. He’s been celebrated ever since.

Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio defined another place. He has his own shrine in Virginia.

Revealing work lives on their pages, autobiographical like the confessional poets Robert Lowell and his student Sylvia Plath.

Now Monica Drake gives an update on the tradition.

Portland never had it so good.

About David Gillaspie
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