State by State

With Sleater-Kinney on hiatus, possibly forever, Carrie Brownstein has been cultivating her writing career down in Portland. She’s one of 50 contributors to State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America (Ecco, $29.95), whose co-editor, Sean Wilsey, will appear with her at this reading and film event. (Sorry, no music is planned.) Redmond-raised Brownstein provides the Evergreen State’s six-page entry, a nice little essay best considered a subjective history, given its editing lapses. (There are two T’s in Elliott Bay, Sean; and gold miners didn’t pioneer Eastern Washington, hence the wheat fields and orchards. Also: Microsoft was never headquartered in California, and it actually moved to Redmond in 1986, before Brownstein’s account begins.) But…did we mention the movie? There’s apparently a companion film, some portion of which will be screened tonight, which includes State by State contributors Dave Eggers (Illinois), William T. Vollmann (California), Anthony Bourdain (New Jersey), John Hodgman (Taxachusetts!), and Sarah Vowell (Montana). The whole project was inspired by the famous WPA guides of the 1930s. Each entry makes for perfect bedtime road trip-planning (“Alabama—not so racist and benighted as you’d expect!”), but the index tables may be the book’s most fascinating feature, especially in an election year as we divide up the electoral map into red, blue, and swing states. Flip past birth rate (we’re 35th) and median age (32nd), ignore population (14th) and highest monthly temperature (40th), and you get to the all-important Table 12: Population Claiming No Religion. According to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, fully 25 percent of our population is comprised of avowed atheists, making us the ungodliest state of the union! Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, www.townhallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Mon., Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
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