Rose City Audition: Stories from My Portland Adventure (Paperback)

Rose City Audition: Stories from My Portland Adventure By M. J. Coreil Cover Image

Rose City Audition: Stories from My Portland Adventure (Paperback)


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What do snuggle parties, defiant chickens, black spot, autism, and Buddhism have in common? They permeate the author's frevent quest to become a Portlander.

Over forty years ago, a story about Portland's local currency, the "greenbucks," inspired M. J. Coreil to set her sights on the Rose City. When she finally arrived in 2012, recently retired from academia, she discovered the story was bogus. Would everything she expected of this blue-green paradise turn out illusory as well?

This collection of essays written over a five-year sojourn chronicles the author's audition to become an authentic Portlander. The stories reveal the humor, elation, and wounds of her zealous pursuit to build community and achieve a sense of belonging. Along the way, she discovers the snobbery of neighborhoods, competition in volunteering, trauma in chicken raising, the politics of snuggle parties, and the wisdom of Buddhism. She finds disquieting mementos of the maligned previous owner of the house she inhabits. Being "somewhere on the autism spectrum" complicates her efforts to make friends and connect with groups. Her reflections underscore the challenge of putting down roots in a new city and explore what it means to belong somewhere.

Unlike media caricatures of Portland, Rose City Audition reveals insights, observations, and amusing takes on local life by an anthropologist who can't help but see the world through an ethnographic lens. Her account blends serious commentary, engaging story-telling, and dry wit to paint a nuanced portrait of life in the progressive Promised Land.

Taken together, the collection offers a wide-ranging look at community, alternative lifestyles, philosophical questions like what it means to find or forge home, quirks of Portland, and flashes of autobiography. The stories demonstrate a dogged willingness to try new things, discover new facets of life around her, and subject herself even to environments and situations that make her uncomfortable in an effort to learn about her surroundings, gain "authenticity," and come to feel a genuine stake in the place.

The writing is clear and straightforward, at times lyrical or humorous, conveying changes in mood from one encounter to another. The tone of the essays reflects different purposes. For example, "Soul Repair" is sensory and experiential, a dreamy interlude of reflection, while "The Specter of Michael Hewitt" narrates a suspenseful detective story. "Snuggling with Peers" takes a polemical stance on societal acceptance of snuggle parties. The satires use tongue-in-cheek humor to lampoon local culture. "The Springwater Corridor" combines Zen-like description of a natural setting with journalistic reportage of the homelessness problem. "Chickenmania" weaves an introspective journey with a nuts-and-bolts account of chicken keeping. The collection captures the multiplicity of engagement and emotion experienced by someone auditioning to become part of an adopted city.

Each essay is illustrated by one or more photographs taken by the author in Portland. In keeping with the Rose City theme of the collection, most images are flowers in poses that metaphorically convey the mood of the essay. Other photos realistically illustrate an essay's topic, such as shots of the chickens and their coop in "Chickenmania."

Product Details ISBN: 9781734114522
ISBN-10: 1734114525
Publisher: Tropic of Candor Publications Lafayette, Loui
Publication Date: November 27th, 2019
Pages: 222
Language: English