Monday, May 14, 2012

Jess Walters' Statistical Abstract of Spokane

This might be my very favorite piece of writing about my hometown! Statistical Abstract for My Home of Spokane, Washington by Jess Walter. Walter is our local writing hero (along with this guy). The author of five novels including The Financial Lives of Poets. This poem is by turns funny and heartbreaking, here is a sample:
  1. The population of Spokane, Washington is 195,526. It is the 105th biggest city in the United States. 
  2. Even before the recession, in 2008, 34,000 people in Spokane lived below the poverty line—a little more than 17 percent of the population. That’s about the same as it was in Washington D.C. at the time. The poverty rate was 11 percent in Seattle and Portland. 
  3. Spokane is sometimes called the biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis, but this is only true if you ignore everything below Wyoming, including Salt Lake City, Denver, Phoenix, and at least four cities in Texas. 
  4. This is really just another way of saying nobody much lives in Montana or the Dakotas. 
  5. My grandfather arrived in Spokane in the 1930s, on a freight train he’d jumped near Fargo. Even he didn’t want to live the Dakotas. 
  6. On any given day in Spokane, Washington, there are more adult men per capita riding children’s BMX bikes than in any other city in the world . . .
Here is short video interview with Walters about The Financial Lives of Poets:

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