Spokane novelist to talk ‘Whiskey’ at Eagle Harbor

Washington State Book Award winner Bruce Holbert will visit Eagle Harbor Book Company at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 to discuss his new novel “Whiskey.”

It burns pleasantly as it goes down, but has a lasting, powerful effect.

Brothers Andre and Smoker were raised in a cauldron of their parents’ failed marriage and appetite for destruction, and find themselves in the same straits as adults — navigating not only their own marriages, but also their parents’ frequent collisions with the law and one another.

The family lives in Electric City, just a few miles south of the Colville Indian Reservation. Fiercely loyal and just plain fierce, they’re bound by a series of darkly comedic and hauntingly violent events: domestic trouble, religious fanaticism, and benders punctuated with pauses to dry out that never stick.

When a religious zealot takes off with Smoker’s daughter, there’s no question that his brother — who continues doggedly to try and put his life in order — will join him in an attempt to return her.

Maybe the venture will break them both beyond repair — or maybe it will redeem them.

Or perhaps both.

“Whiskey” is the story of two brothers, their parents, and three wrecked marriages, a searching book about family life at its most distressed; about kinship, failure, enough liquor to get through it all, and ultimately a dark and hard-earned grace.

With the gruff humor of Cormac McCarthy and a dash of the madcap irony of Charles Portis, and a strong, authentic literary voice all his own, Holbert traverses the harsh landscape of America’s northwestern border and finds a family unlike any you’ve met before.

Holbert is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, Other Voices, The Antioch Review, Crab Creek Review and The New York Times. He grew up on the Columbia River and in the shadow of the Grand Coulee. His great-grandfather was an Indian scout and among the first settlers of the Grand Coulee.

Holbert is the author of “The Hour of Lead,” winner of the Washington State Book Award, and “Lonesome Animals.”