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Wordstock: Ursula K. Le Guin | Drive By Trucker's Patterson Hood & Willy Vlautin | Patrick Dewitt


We’re broadcasting live today from the Portland Art Museum for the city’s biggest book extravaganza, Wordstock. We’re going to be talking with a couple of our literary superheroes.

Author Ursula LeGuin speaks with OPB "State of Wonder" host April Baer at Wordstock.

Author Ursula LeGuin speaks with OPB “State of Wonder” host April Baer at Wordstock.

Reuben Unrau/OPB

Ursula K. Le Guin
Think about the pleasure you felt when a favorite teacher showed you something new. That feeling takes on an entirely new dimension in this year’s revival of Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Steering the Craft.” Le Guin, one of Oregon’s most decorated living writers, gave us epic novels that set the template for so much in science fiction and fantasy, plus poetry and nonfiction that changed the way we think. We’ll hear about how she pulls off her best literary tricks, along with her reflections after almost a half century in the industry.

Author Patrick Dewitt (right) reads a passage from his book "Undermajordomo Minor," accompanied by Michael Hurley on guitar at Wordstock.

Author Patrick Dewitt (right) reads a passage from his book “Undermajordomo Minor,” accompanied by Michael Hurley on guitar at Wordstock.

Reuben Unrau/OPB

Patrick DeWitt and Michael Hurley
Patrick DeWitt has a gift for laying out a very complete situation with very few well-chosen words. The Booker Prize Foundation, when awarding him a prize for his 2011 western, “The Sisters Brothers,” called DeWitt’s writing “stark, unsettling and with a keen eye for the perversity of human motivation.” Those words also apply to his latest novel, “Undermajordomo Minor. But it’s a completely different story — less “Deadwood,” more Magic Mountain. Patrick DeWitt is going to read for us today, accompanied by one of the most singular performers you will meet, today, or ever: Michael Hurley.

Willy Vlautin (left) and Patterson Hood speak with April Baer at Wordstock.

Willy Vlautin (left) and Patterson Hood speak with April Baer at Wordstock.

Reuben Unrau/OPB

Patterson Hood and Willy Vlautin
Patterson Hood and Willy Vlautin are both the voices behind two breakthrough country rock bands — The Drive-by Truckers and Richmond Fontaine. Aside from their Southern-tinged vocals, they also turn to literature as a creative outlet. Hood has published stories for The New Yorker and Vlautin’s new novel “The Free” is his fourth title to date. They join April Baer to talk about the relationship between music and writing along with a look at what’s on their bookshelves.

We’ll be rolling out more Wordstock interviews in the coming weeks with myriad authors, including Jesse Eisenberg, John Irving, Diana Nyad, Colin Meloy, Carson Ellis, Sandra Cisneros and more. Sign up for the “State of Wonder” podcast to make sure you don’t miss them.

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