“I’ve just now been wondering if a town can actually replace a person in someone’s life. Do you think a town can act as a hedge against the unbated loneliness of the human heart, whether mine or someone else’s?” Within the first chapter of “Tacoma Stories,” author Richard Wiley unpacks an existential motif within his new book — how does a place influence the stories that derive from it?
Growing up around Browns Point, and later attending Woodrow Wilson High School in the 1960s, the city of Tacoma is intrinsically entrenched within Wiley’s life story. After establishing a career for himself as a fiction novelist and short story writer, Wiley decided to bring his work full-circle and focus his latest work on the city he holds dearest.
Released this month, Wiley’s “Tacoma Stories” is a collection of stories featuring different characters in different time periods — all of whom are all connected in one way or another. The introductory chapter describes how all their paths initially cross — at the local Pat’s Tavern, which is now Magoo’s Annex, on St. Patrick’s Day in 1968. From there, 13 interconnected short stories take place in their own subsequent chapter. Each story involves a unique period and character, but the setting of Tacoma remains pervasive throughout the book. Through Wiley’s lived experiences, he is able to articulate a familiar and endearing world of Tacoma, humanizing the city to a reader who may not have even heard of the “City of Destiny.” To the readers who are familiar with the area, the references to Tacoma’s distinct features bring the stories to life.
Given the amount of characters involved in “Tacoma Stories,” the reader is required to be attentive to names, which often involves flipping back to the first chapter to refresh their memory on each character’s background. If one is willing to do this, however, the book offers an insightful and often humorous perspective on life within the city of Tacoma, lending particular interest to those who can relate to the area.
If you are interested in learning more about “Tacoma Stories,”
Wiley will be making a public appearance at King’s Books on March 7 at 7 p.m.