February 20, 2008
Dinner and discussion of “City of Wool’, a short story by Matthew Stadler. “City of Wool” concerns a Sufi dervish who arrives in Astoria, Oregon (in July of 1914) to set up a store, which he calls “City of Wool.” Of this piece Stadler says:
“Like most of my fiction, the setting and particulars of the story are all factual, but the central characters are made up. Astoria, which is the oldest US city west of the Rockies, really was a very cosmopolitan place that mixed Sufi with Finn, Sikh, German, Chinese, Sandwich Islanders, Dutch…you name it. It was an old port city with a booming economy, the future metropolis of the region ( R.I.P.). The story gives details of the instrumental part Astoria played in, among other things, the revolt against British colonial rule of India. “City of Wool” depicts a reality that would not have been surprising to Astorians in 1914, as best as I can guess.”
Matthew Stadler is the author of four novels, including Landscape: Memory, The Sex Offender, and Allan Stein. He got his B.A. in political theory at Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in fiction writing at Columbia University, and he studied epistemology in the philosophy program at the London School of Economics. Among many other prizes, he has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Writers Award, the Hinda Rosenthal Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and, last year, a United States Artists Fellowship, for his fiction.
Dinner prepared by artist and chef David Thorne.