Rikki Ducornet. Photo courtesy of the artist

‘Brightfellow’ Continues a Long Tradition of Literary Orphans

Port Townsend author Rikki Ducornet’s new novel follows a forest-dwelling young man named Stub.

What is it about orphans and literature? Why do so many narratives so dearly love a parentless child, from Moses to the novels of Dickens on down to Batman? On an instinctual level, it seems obvious: Parents are shorthand for comfort, security, and rules, three elements not conducive to great storytelling. And nothing hypnotizes some readers like the myth of the self-made man, the protagonist who truly doesn’t need anyone else. If a child on his or her own with no parental support can impose order onto a chaotic universe, then maybe anyone can.

Port Townsend author Rikki Ducornet’s latest novel, Brightfellow, is about a young man named Stub. After a miserable childhood, Stub decides to live on his own in the woods surrounding the campus of a nearby university. There he makes the world into some kind of a rough paradise: “He sleeps in duck blinds, under a canoe, in an abandoned truck, graduates to the gym and showers there, uncovers an inexhaustible supply of soap … In this way the years pass. He is a recluse, a scholar. He is a dissembler. When in a tight spot, he invents identities. He is strange.”

Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition or online here at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

More in Arts & Culture

The interrogation of Parolles serves as one of the comedic highlights in ‘All’s Well That Ends Well.’ Photo by John Ulman
‘All’s Well’ Doesn’t End Well

Despite strong performances and comedic zest, it’s hard to not get hung up on the befuddling ending of Seattle Shakespeare’s latest production.

On Being Trans: J Mase III Creates a Space to Feel Welcome

The Seattle artist hosts a three-day event at Gay City.

Appropriately, Tacoma Art Museum’s new Benaroya Wing gives a splash of glass 
                                to the building’s facade. Photo by Benjamin Benschneider
Tacoma Art Museum Opens New Benaroya Wing With Dazzling Glass

Stunning glass trees by Debora Moore highlight the addition’s initial offerings.

Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig simmer as musicians in love in <em>Cold</em> <em>War</em>. Photo by Lukasz Bak
The Warm Musical Romance of ‘Cold War’

The gorgeous Polish tale of love behind the Iron Curtain would be a layup for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in a non-‘Roma’ year.

Why can’t we all just get along? Lynch, Crocetto, and Rawls in ‘Il trovatore.’ Photo by Jacob Lucas
Seattle Opera’s High C’s Adventure

Turns out a conventional approach is best for Verdi’s notoriously implausible ‘Il trovatore.’

Students of the TeenTix Press Corps Intensive bring a youthful prospective while taking in Seattle’s arts scene. Photo courtesy TeenTix
TeenTix Fosters the Next Generation of Arts Critics

Youths are engaging in critical arts thinking via the local nonprofit’s Press Corps Intensive.

Most Read