I write short stories, novels, flowcharts, typos, code, and bugs. I’ve published nine works of fiction and publish stories, essays, and book reviews. Many of my books are about rural Washington State. I grew up in the Snoqualmie Valley in the seventies and eighties. This was years before Microsoft, and it is hard to remember that that some of the kids in my elementary school had never been to Seattle. The valley then was connected to the South Sound along Highway 18 and Sunset Highway — that went through Maple Valley. We spent as much time in Duvall or Carnation as we did Renton and Kent. It was a place where there were always logging trucks, truck stops, clear cuts, and guys with crew cuts.
I moved to the suburbs south of Seattle about ten years ago into an area of the Pacific Northwest writer Charles Mudede called Negative Land in The Stranger.
Dusk never leaves Green River Land, but sickly seeps into all of its half-empty bars and cheap hotels, clinging over trailer parks like fog over a graveyard. As sleeping sickness is the primary health risk for tropic-addled countries in the middle of darkest Africa (sleeping sickness is spread by huge, bloodthirsty tsetse flies), this region suffers from nightmares, which frequently infect the sleep of its citizens as jet planes howl over small homes.
My neighborhood is where a large part of Ann Rule’s book about The Green River Killer, Green River, Running Red. This area isn’t really a city (even though it has the densest population in Washington State), and it isn’t country (even though their are diary farms and pastures within walking distance of my house); it is a kind of odd suburb although it has large areas of tract houses, strip malls, and warehouse stores. I found that in keeping a blog during this time I kept writing about my neighborhood. On one hand I was interested in I think identifying the authentic in a place that was so processed and designed. On the other hand it seems like a futile search. Exactly what is authentic about operational Datsun Z80s driven by men in leather jackets and handlebar mustaches. There are a dozens in my neighborhood. It must mean something, but I’m not sure what.
So this blog is my investigation into my neighborhood, into the “in between city” between Seattle and Tacoma, and a record of life here; whatever that is.
Before returning to work in my basement one time, a neighbor asked me, “What are you, a bookworm or something?” While it sometimes seems like I am re-enacting Straw Dogs, my neighborhood is also home to scientists, a number of great used bookstores (close to independent bookstores in Seattle such as the Elliott Bay Book Company and Third Place Books) and Kings Books in Tacoma.
This blog is about trying to write and live and find the “authentic” (whatever that is) in the suburbs.
I also keep a blog that is about my other projects and books here: mattbriggs.com.