Arts and Entertainment

Bainbridge library seeks fictional sketches

John Steinbeck might roll over in his grave if he ever Googled the words “Cannery Row.”

There, he’d find, a website that describes the street made famous by his novel. Trouble is, back in 1945 when the book was published, there was no street by that name in Monterey. The gritty neighborhood Steinbeck wrote about was called Ocean View Avenue, renamed by city officials 13 years after the book’s release.

It is this metaphorical shoreline between fact and fiction that the Bainbridge Public Library urges islanders to comb in its call for submissions for Bainbridge Island Sketches. The Library wants to compile fictionalized depictions of life on Bainbridge as part of “One Community, One Book,” a series of events in which Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row” serves as the focus.

The rules are brief and loose: Keep it under 2,000 words; change the names to protect the innocent (and the guilty), but capture the essence of Bainbridge and its inhabitants in exact and signature details. A reading of selected entries is scheduled for 1-4, Nov. 1 at San Carlos Restaurant, 279 Madison Ave., as a wrap-up to the month-long series.

“We chose Steinbeck because he’s a classic American author, explained Rebecca Judd, branch manager of the library. “One Book, One Community” is part of a Kitsap Regional Library annual program. A committee of library volunteers will select entries to be read at San Carlos and possibly compiled in an online anthology. The deadline for entering is Oct. 26, and entries can be submitted by email to project coordinator Kathleen Thorne, at, or dropped off at the information desk at the Library.

As noted Steinbeck scholar, Susan Shillinglaw writes in the Introduction to the 1994 edition of Cannery Row, “...It’s not a tightly plotted book, not a book with a clear resolution, not a book working toward an ending or purpose. Rather it’s about seeing carefully and without preconceived notions.”

Bainbridge author and bookseller Ann Combs is taking that approach to her free workshop, “Creating Bainbridge Island Sketches,” at 3 p.m., Oct. 4, at Eagle Harbor Book Co. The workshop is intended as a starting point for those interested in participating in the library writing event. Instead of imposing a planned structure, Combs says what she’ll focus on “depends a lot on who shows up.”

She hopes participants will bring at least a few interesting pieces of flotsam, phrases or details that capture the essence of a Bainbridge location or person. “Idiosyncracies,” according to Combs, are what make memorable characters.

“There used to be a lot of weird characters here. The lady who ran around with the frying pan on her head is gone now. It’s become more gentrified.”

Still, Combs has a keen sense of finding the quirky details that are so original, so specific, they must be real. As they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

Other "One Community, One Book" events in October:

Ongoing: Call for Submissions, Bainbridge Island Sketches. As part of its October 2009 "One Community, One Book" program featuring John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, the Bainbridge Library is compiling a collection of short, fictionalized sketches of life on Bainbridge Island written in the style of Cannery Row. Deadline is Oct. 26. For more information, please call the library at 842-4162 or visit Kitsap Regional Library.

A John Steinbeck Evening: Dramatic readings from selected works by Steinbeck, author of "Cannery Row" and music by Side By Side. 7:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 2 – Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Ave. N.

An Evening on Cannery Row: Dr. Susan Shillinglaw is a scholar-in-residence at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Calif. She has published widely on Steinbeck, and provided the Introduction to the 1994 edition of "Cannery Row" published by Penguin. 2-3 p.m., Oct. 4 – Poulsbo Public Library, 700 NE Lincoln Road, Poulsbo.

Free workshop on writing sketches: Author and bookseller Ann Combs offers a free workshop. 3-5:30 p.m., Oct. 4 – Eagle Harbor Book Co., 157 Winslow Way E.

East of Eden: Free film showing, 5 p.m., Oct. 4 – The Historic Lynwood Theatre, 4569 Lynwood Center Rd. NE.

Book Discussion: Cannery Row, 7 p.m., Oct. 7 – Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Ave. N.

A History of Strawberry Canning on Bainbridge Island: Jerry Elfendahl presents a history of strawberry canning through films, maps, artifacts, and exhibits and an introduction of some of the people who lived the history. In cooperation with the Bainbridge Island Historical Society, the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community, Bainbridge Island Filipino American Community and numerous elders who have shared their photos and stories. 3 p.m., Oct. 11 – Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Ave. N.

Cannery Row Poetry Connections: Poetry evocative of the life of John Steinbeck will be shared by four Bainbridge poets: Jennifer Hager, David Stallings, Roger Midgett and Marit Saltrones. Moderated by Neil Baker. 7-8 p.m., Oct. 15 – Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Ave. N.

Senior Book Group: Seniors read "Cannery Row" and discuss, 1 p.m., Oct. 20 – Bainbridge Island Senior Center, 370 Brien Dr. SE.

Edible Book Festival: Participants create edible, book-related assemblages. Showing is 1-3 p.m., Oct. 24 at the Bainbridge Public Library – For more information, go to Bainbridge Public Library. 1270 Madison Ave. N.

The History of John Steinbeck's Old Ocean View Avenue: Michael K. Hemp from the Cannery Row Foundation in Monterey, Calif. shares his knowledge of Steinbeck and his work. 7 p.m., Oct. 28 – Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Ave. N

Bainbridge Island Sketches Reading: Fictional stories inspired by real life on Bainbridge will be read by their authors. 1-4 p.m., Nov. 1 – San Carlos Restaurant, 279 Madison Ave.

For more information about the “One Community, One Book” series, visit the library’s Web site.

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