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Officially Oregon?

April 9, 2015

Time for a little history lesson. Did you know Oregon has an official state flower? It’s the Oregon grape. How about an official state dance? We do indeed: the square dance. And what about our state book? No idea? Perhaps that’s because we don’t actually have one.

 

On March 23, The Oregonian’s editorial board created waves in the literary community by asking readers which title could be considered the state’s official book. Although no movement exists to push for such a thing, the editors were inspired by a recent bill in Mississippi that offered the Bible as the state’s official tome. Suggestions quickly poured in as passionate readers defended their favorite titles and debated definitions and potential categories.

 

In the end, Ken Kesey’s “Sometimes a Great Notion” emerged as victor, having garnered the most overall votes. Yet the beauty of the literary conversation lies not in its final consensus, but rather the extreme variety and quality of books suggested. Poignant classics and new favorites were unearthed to share the spotlight – including several OSU Press titles!

 

Oregonian online user AEsteve wrote: “What about ‘Honey in the Horn,’ H.L. Davis’s 1935 Pulitzer Prize winner? Not even Kesey caught the wanderlust at the core of Oregonians. Then ‘Sometimes a Great Notion.’”

 

User Boyd Osgood concurred, saying: “I propose ‘Honey in the Horn’ by H.L. Davis. It won the Pulitzer in 1936 for best novel … It is an extremely good read.”

 HoneyintheHorn

Honey in the Horn, the only Oregon novel to win a Pulitzer, follows the story of orphan Clay Calvert as he journeys across the state in the early years of the twentieth century. Many of those who weighed in during the debate suggested Davis’s book, citing its unparalleled portrayal of the indomitable and restless Oregon spirit. You can discover its unique beauty for yourself this June, when OSU Press releases a reprinted edition, complete with a new introduction from historian Richard W. Etulain.

 

But Honey in the Horn wasn’t the only OSU Press title to receive some love from readers. Below are several of the suggested books, along with users’ comments.

 

·       Field Guide to Oregon Rivers 

o   “For field guide I would choose the new and amazingly wonderful Field Guide to Oregon Rivers by Tim Palmer, a must have for anyone who loves the outdoors of this beautiful state.” – Oregonian user Animist

·       Fool’s Hill

o   “ … it is a GREAT little book. I give it my highest recommendation.” – Oregonian user barttels

·       Listening for Coyote

·       A Majority of Scoundrels

·       Mink River

·       Wildmen, Wobblies, and Whistle Punks

o   “Two books I would add to the reading list are Wildmen, Wobblies and Whistlepunks, Stewart Holbrooke, and Fool’s Hill, John Quick. Both singularly outstanding and published by the estimable OSU press.” – Oregonian user barttels

·       Moontrap

·       Nehalem Tillamook Tales

·       Requiem for a People

·       Illahee

o   “Kay Atwood’s delightful short book called Illahee, which is about early settlers, trappers, and Native American lives along the lower Rogue River! GREAT NONFICTION!” – OPB user Puddleglum

·       Stubborn Twig

·       To Build a Ship

·       Trask

o   “Don Berry, specifically his novel Trask. Oregon in setting, authorship, and writing style.” – Oregonian user TuberousRootMan

o   “Trask by Don Berry. His description of winter in the northern coast range is enough to send me under the blankets to wait until spring!” – OPB user Barbara Wanores

 

Still not convinced you should pick up an OSU Press title today? Perhaps we should simply forget this whole debate business and follow the advice of Oregonian user bendbrilliance: “In other words, books are different than birds and rocks. So I say no to designating a state book. Just enjoy them all.”

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