Gift offerings: A selection of NW books and movies

Local history, a female serial killer, Eastern Washington tales and losing money in your sleep -- Crosscut authors help you find presents for that special someone.
Local history, a female serial killer, Eastern Washington tales and losing money in your sleep -- Crosscut authors help you find presents for that special someone.

Fiction Heartsick by Chelsea Cain (St. Martin's, $23.95) This thriller set in Portland is as literate as it is gripping, and the sub-plot involving a female rookie newspaper reporter is as strong as the main thread about a female serial killer, Gretchen Lowell, who likes to make her mark–on her victims' flesh. Locals will appreciate how the author's obvious love of her hometown permeates the story, capturing the flavor and feel of a great Northwest city. --Lisa Albers O Street by Corrina Wycoff (Other Voices, $17.95) (Full disclosure: This book is written by a close friend.) O Street is a debut story collection from Seattle author Corrina Wycoff. Wycoff makes us confront the failures of society, the way people like the mother protagonist fall through the cracks, which aren't cracks at all but more like chasms. Wycoff doesn't apologize for her political edge in this book, but neither is O Street a polemic. The argument is in the heartbreak. -- L.A. Non-fiction Native Seattle by Coll Thrush (University of Washington Press, $28.95). Seattle "is a city in love with its Native American heritage," writes Thrush, an assistant history prof at the University of British Columbia. We revere Indian art and extol Native American environmental virtues, but ignore the real Indians in our midst, whether they are Skid Road drunks, casino operators or people asserting treaty rights. The fact is, most of us know very little about the role of native peoples in the history of urban Seattle beyond the founding myth of wise old Chief Seattle (not really his name) welcoming the Denny party pilgrims at Alki Point. Thrush restores our understanding of native history in a smart, well-written revisionist primer that looks at the ongoing presence of Indians in the city. -Knute Berger Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle by Matthew Klingle (Yale University Press, $30). Klingle takes a fascinating look at the forces--from axes and steam shovels to railroads, racism and upper class ideals--that literally reshaped the land and ecosystems that Seattle occupies. Klingle focuses on local battles such as those to protect the city's watershed, "save" the salmon, expand our parks, and clean up Lake Washington, and explores both the stated and hidden agendas that influenced what happened. His analysis of some of our sacred cows--such as extolling nature--often reveals selfish or elitist motives behind good intentions. An illuminating and infuriating book that's a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how modern Seattle came to be, and how the literal shape of the city is a complicated reflection of our politics and prejudices. - K.B. You Will Make Money in Your Sleep: From Boom to Bust with Dana Giacchetto in the 1990s by Emily White (Scribner, $25). This book will help you understand exactly how money changed Seattle in the 1990s. Author Emily White and her husband got rich overnight when a man named Dana Giacchetto helped broker the sale of Sub Pop, where White's husband was a manger. They bought a house with cash, and gave Giacchetto a chunk of money to invest. They were in good company; Giacchetto was "financial adviser to the stars." Today the money is gone, and Giacchetto's financial shenanigans have made him a felon. White's story shows how Seattle boomed, busted, and got burned by unscrupulous outsiders, and by its own eagerness and naivete. -- Phyllis Fletcher A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body: Tales from a Life of Cringe by Lauren Weedman (Sasquatch Books, $16.95 Local publisher Sasquatch Books released this memoir from a standup comedian who got her start on Seattle's stages. Most readers will delight in Weedman's account of her stint with the The Daily Show, but even funnier is her juxtaposition of childhood in the American Midwest and young adulthood in Holland. -- L.A. The Wild Trees by Richard Preston (Random House, $25.95 hardcover) This NY Times-bestselling author of The Hot Zone chronicles the work of intrepid tree explorers of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Preston balances the page-turner quality of his story against a real education in the trees' botanical and historical importance. Tree-climbing enthusiasts will have much to hang onto here. -- L.A. DVDs Maria Tallchief by Sandy and Yasu Osawa (Upstream Productions, 56 minutes) Everyone knows the names George Ballanchine and Igor Stravinsky. But what of their collaborator, Maria Tallchief? She was America's first prima ballerina, the dancer whose legendary Orpheus performance catalyzed the founding of the NY City Ballet. Here's the kind of American Indian story that challenges societal conventions, by a Seattle filmmaking duo whose work often does. -- L.A. Arid Lands by Grant Aacker and Josh Wallaert (Sidelong Films, 98 minutes) This stunning documentary by two newcomers to the field presages great work to come. Eschewing the controlling narrative style of popular documentary, the filmmakers let their 27 interview subjects speak for themselves, and the result is a provocative, complex portrait of Eastern Washington as it grapples with the legacy of Hanford and the future of its arid but starkly beautiful landscape. -- L.A. The Heart of the Game directed by Ward Serrill (Miramax, $29.99) A miracle of a documentary. Serrill spent six seasons with the Roosevelt Rough Riders girls' basketball team, following their lives on and off the court. He captures every bit of the heart, soul and tears that go along with discovering what turns individuals into a championship team. Even better, he develops these girls into characters we come to care about all the way. -- Lucy Mohl Also noteworthy The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Little Brown, $16.99). Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Flight, a Novel by Sherman Alexie (Grove Press, $13) Seattle by Joel Rogers (Graphic Arts Books, $19.95) reviewed by Greg Palmer Snow Falling on Fleuvogs by Liz Wills (Create Space, $10)


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