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Descriptionn 1993, The New Yorker published Calvin Trillin's memorable article on the eccentric Flavel family of Astoria, the descendants of Captain George Flavel, whose ornate Queen-Anne-style mansion is a tourist draw today. With Trillin's gracious consent, "First Family of Astoria" is reprinted in Part One of Astorians, Eccentric and Extraordinary , making its first appearance in book form.
Part Two carries on the theme with portraits of fifty-five other notable Astorians. Five Oregon writers have captured the essence and the flavor of vivid personalities that include the notorious shanghaier Bridget Grant; the charming scoundrel Mayor Francis Clay Harley; the elusive English "barmaid" Jane Barnes, the first white woman in the Pacific Northwest; and Rolf Klep, who believed he could create a major maritime museum in an economically depressed town-and made it happen.
In biology, it is said that the richest life forms reside at the edge of the ecosystem. Astoria epitomizes edges-the edge of the country, the edge of a great river, the edge of the Pacific Ocean, and the edge of our American culture. This book celebrates the larger-than-life quality that has appeared with regularity in the town's two-hundred-year history. As Steve Forrester, publisher of The Daily Astorian , notes in the book's introduction: "Extraordinary people are not necessarily eccentric. But eccentrics are driven to do extraordinary things."
Oregon State University
30 November 2010
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