Books, brewskies and bad fortune
By RICHARD D. OXLEY
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
August 27, 2012 · Updated 9:55 AM
Local author Jonathan Evison left readers hungry for more after his last best-selling novel.
Get ready for the feast.
Evison’s 2011 best-selling novel “West of Here” was a popular draw to bookstore shelves. The author will debut his latest work, “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Eagle Harbor Book Company in Winslow.
The novel has already garnered considerable praise from critics.
Evison said that readers of his previous work will recognize his voice in “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,” as he tackles a similar theme.
“I really only have one theme: reinvention,” Evison said. “Whether it’s towns or people; people inching their way towards self-improvement.”
“I just got to believe in change,” he added. “It’s an imperative for me. We can’t choose our stations in life or our circumstances, but we can change our patterns and our destiny.”
But with his newest novel, he challenged himself quite differently as an author than in his previous times at the keyboard.
“With this book I knew I wanted to challenge myself emotionally,” he said.
Evison certainly has brought emotion into play with his latest work.
“I had some healing to do myself,” he said. “I knew my characters would be informed by a number of painful things in my own life.”
“It is by no means a memoir,” Evison added. “But I saw my parents go through a freak accident with my sister. And in my mid-30s, I went through a rough patch with the end of my first marriage.”
Drawing from his own life’s tragedies, such as the death of his sister in a car accident, Evison crafted Benjamin Benjamin and other characters from “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving.”
Benjamin is a man who has seen better days. His life reaches a depressing low, but he manages to turn it around through helping other as a caregiver. One such person he cares for is Trev, a teenager with muscular dystrophy. The two take a journey of learning and reinvention.
“This book was cathartic for myself,” Evison said. “We are talking about a character that virtually lost everything, he’s a shadow of himself.”
But Evison doesn’t like to leave his characters lost in tragedy.
“When that happens to us we come to learn that hope is sort of a shape shifter,” he said. “It’s always there, you just got to look for it. This is a story about finding where to look again.”
“The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving” will be released on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
Evison will make his first stop on his promotional book tour at his Aug. 29 appearance in Winslow.
For Evison, who grew up amongst the Northwest music scene during the 1980s and ’90s, an appearance as an author is similar to an appearance on stage. He likens the feeling of being in front of an audience and encountering with them on a two-way street of engagement.
And also, as with a concert, he likes the beer.
“I always have beer in my readings. I always have a beer sponsor,” Evison said. “This tour I’m doing a lot of my events at breweries.”
In fact, Evison said that beer is a considerable part of his writing process. Therefore, it’s fitting that it also be part of a reading.
“I’m just a prolific self-medicator,” Evison said. “My brain is biochemically manic, it’s just kind of nuts. It’s one reason I write.”
“(Beer) slows me down,” he added. “I’m just really fast. I think fast, and when I’m talking, I sometimes skip transitions. Sometimes I like to write with a hangover, because it slows me down.”
“And it just tastes yummy,” he said of the brew.
Drawing again from his musical roots, Evison has scheduled his tour with other “acts.”
Fellow authors such as Benjamin Percy and Willy Vlautin will also make appearances on his book tour.
For Evison, Bainbridge Island is an ideal place to start the tour. The island is supportive of authors and as a bonus, it’s where he grew up.
“I feel like I have an amazing home field advantage,” Evison said. “I feel really lucky to be based here.”Contact Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer Richard D. Oxley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 842-6613.