Seattleite Book Club: August 2011

Dear Seattleite Readers,

Welcome to the Seattleite Book Club – the only virtual book club that spotlights the Pacific Northwest’s own authors and publishers!

Last month, we featured “Boundary Issues” by Jane Adams, Ph.d. — a thoughtful examination of the relationships we form with others. By understanding our own physical and emotional boundaries, Adams claims, we enable ourselves to adopt a healthier lifestyle. “[Adams] has a gift for identifying universal qualities,” Cynthia from Ballard said. “And this is why everyone can gain something from [‘Boundary Issues’].” Kim from Bellevue also enjoyed the book, describing Adams as a “compassionate, knowledgeable individual.” Maggie from North Bend summed up “Boundary Issues” quite nicely: “Easy-to-read and easy-to-understand life lessons from someone who knows best.”

August’s Selection: “Pugetopolis” by Knute Berger

Dynamic Seattleites wouldn’t exist without their own dynamic city in which to work, play, create and expand. Arguably, nobody better understands the ever-changing aspects of our city than Knute Berger — a.k.a., Mossback. The Seattle native has been writing about his hometown for nearly 40 years, for publications such as Seattle Weekly, Seattle Magazine, Crosscut and Eastsideweek (the latter of which he founded).

In 2008, Sasquatch Books published Pugetopolis — a compendium of Berger’s Seattle-related musings, rants and general observations that were published between 1990 and 2008. Everything from latte taxes and bigfoot encounters to the “Monofail” and Rick Neuheisel’s fall from grace gets a thorough assessment, courtesy of Mossback. For this reason, Pugetopolis works as a fascinating history lesson about our fair city — as related by an affectionately critical scholar.

“Seattle’s history is endless,” Berger said. “I’m continually amazed at some of the creative local people here and how they influenced the arts, architecture, etc.”

Mossback first got the “publishing bug” as an editor of his high school newspaper. As a collegiate, he helped launch the student newspaper at Evergreen College. Berger interned at a magazine following graduation, and his career took off from there.

In addition to his writings, he also did commentary for KUOW 94.9 Puget Sound Public Radio. Currently, he writes the “Grey Matters” column for Seattle Magazine, and frequently contributes to

“Mossback was a term of derision for locals used by newcomers to the Northwest in the late 19th century,” Berger said. “It meant backwards, but was also a reference to people who lived in the wet. I took it as a name of pride, of being local, of being willing to let a place shape you. Anyone can be a mossback if they live here and allow themselves to sink in and become part of the place. I mean, you can grow lots of moss in just one winter (or summer!).”

Indeed, Pugetopolis reveals an articulate citizen that has truly “sunk into” the city he calls home. Berger seems to have an opinion with regard to every conceivable aspect of the Emerald City, and his thoughtful commentary is the reader’s reward.

On seasonal intolerance: “Yes, the weather can drive you crazy. But to move here and especially to stay here, you had to be a bit crazy to begin with. And whether or not you want to consider embracing the rain as a manifestation of Stockholm syndrome, the lousy weather is not only an integral part of our experience, it is also a force that shapes us.” (Weather WimpsSeattle Weekly 2002)

On progress in Seattle: “It’s a citywide issue that challenges us to redefine what Seattle is. Is it strictly a commercial zone where everything is for sale to the highest bidder? Or are there other community values that need to be asserted? Are we going to let ‘the market’ define us?” (The Route of All EvilSeattle Weekly 2006)

On Boeing: “Our modern identity has been built around Boeing’s company, whether your dad worked there or not. Our expectations were shaped by it. Boeing’s jetliners composed the first Internet — the global connector of every country on Earth with every other. It was the model of things to come.” (The Long Boe-Bye: It’s Over, Seattle Weekly 2002)

Pugetopolis” is available from Sasquatch Books for $18.95. Please send reader comments to Seattleite at by Aug. 31.

About Sasquatch Books: Sasquatch Books is one of the country’s leading independent publishers, known for its innovative and eclectic list of non-fiction books featuring authors such as Nancy Pearl, Lynda Barry, and Art Wolfe. Sasquatch Books began publishing Northwest regional non-fiction in 1986 and quickly became renowned for its fiercely independent and opinionated guidebook series, “Best Places.” Today Sasquatch Books publishes compelling ideas and authors from the West Coast region with appeal to readers everywhere.