Tag Archives: Clyde Curley

Not the Cup of Hemlock You’re Expecting

Beware the Clydes of March!

How many authors can guarantee live music at their book events?

Apparently Clyde Curley can. He appeared on March 12th at Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland to promote his latest Detective Toussaint mystery, A Cup of Hemlock. (I wrote about the first novel, Raggedy Man, in 2013.)

Clyde lived in Portland many years ago, and he belonged to a contradance band called Jigsaw. When he moved to Bellingham, Washington, his former colleagues continued playing together…and have now provided music for two of Clyde’s book events in Portland. They don’t need a fancy setup, just a trio of folding chairs will do.


George Penk is on the left, Heather Pinney is on the right, and is that Dan Compton in the middle?

Musical bookends made for a particularly enjoyable book reading that evening, with Clyde Curley’s talk providing the literary substance in the middle. Clyde talked about how his career as a high school teacher and philosophies about teaching influenced A Cup of Hemlock, read two longer excerpts, and answered questions from readers.


After that, book signing!

A few former students from Portland and Albany turned out, as well as musician friends. One former student brought a green pen for Clyde to sign his book with, as that was his signature color for grading papers and making corrections.

Okay, I’ll admit it…that student was me! I adopted Clyde’s use of green pen when editing and am always scoping out the best sources for green Precise Pilot pens or green cartridges for Pelikan pens. My reasons for doing so are not exactly the same as his, but it’s just one of the many ways that Clyde positively impacted me as a student in my final year of high school ca. 1995-1996.

I had finished the book a few days before the reading at Annie Bloom’s. A Cup of Hemlock is shorter, but more mysterious than Raggedy Man, as there are multiple plausible murderers until fairly late in the game.

As for the titular cup of hemlock? No spoilers here, but despite the poster of The Death of Socrates on the murder victim’s wall…the cup is not quite what you’ll be expecting.

They’re flying off the shelves! Buy A Cup of Hemlock or Raggedy Man at Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland, OR, Village Books in Bellingham, WA, or directly from Clyde Curley.


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Bookish Happenings in January: Raggedy Man

January was a whirlwind here at Bookish HQ.

Fortunately there were books involved!

Clyde Curley, one of my dearest teachers, launched Raggedy Man on January 10th.  The launch party was hosted by Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland’s Multnomah Village. According to Clyde the bookstore sold out of their first shipment (before the launch) in just a week, and as of yesterday Annie Bloom’s employee Jeffrey Shaffer reported that copies are still “flying off the shelves.”

This seems natural given this mystery is set in Portland, Oregon, and Portlanders love to consume artistic interpretations of our fair city (Portlandia, Wildwood, and Grimm just to name some current examples). Whereas some portrayals of Portland use the city as just a place on the map, Raggedy Man is informed by Clyde’s intimacy of having lived in Portland for several decades. (During the reading, a few of his off-the-cuff remarks had the audience in stitches: “He was an anarchist from Eugene. (They’re all from Eugene!)”

While the novel was self-published, it has been garnering some big attention. It recently got picked up by Ingram (a large book distribution company) so it should be widely available through any bookstore, or you can order Raggedy Man directly through Clyde.

Give it a read!

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