Welcome back to Thomas Lauderdale’s Summer Reading List! Thomas’ choice this week is Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, best-selling author, poet, and radio personality from our hometown of Portland. This book recommendation strays a bit off topic compared to some of Thomas’ other suggestions, but it does offer a fun glimpse into his life as a budding young wordsmith. We hope you enjoy it. Take it away, Thomas

Katherine Dunn | Geek Love“Katherine Dunn is such a fantastic writer. I was her assistant when I was in high school for about a year. She had a column in the Willamette Week called The Slice, in which people would write questions in and she would answer them. I remember one time someone wrote in and asked, “How many columns are in the parking garages at Lloyd Center?”. She threw that one to me. I now know why. What a stupid question! And at the time I thought, “Oh, what an interesting question! I want to know the answer to that!”. I was way off. Here’s the original question:

With all this talk of remodeling the Lloyd Center, I got nostalgic and wandered over to that great piece of Americana. The place is such a period piece and still has more character than most malls sprouting up around here. But while I was there wandering through the parking garage, I got to wondering: You know those gigantic cement pillars in the parking garages? There’s got to be hundreds! Just how many are there? Signed, Modern Chopper

So this is my response – from 1988, when I was 17 years old.

I skedaddled over to the Lloyd Center, one time proudly called the largest shopping center in the world, dashed down the stairs, and began counting madly. I was on my hundred-and-third pillar – or two-hundred thirty-seventh – when a mischievous shopper pranced by on her way to her BMW, proclaiming her savings at Meyer & Frank to her cohort. “I spent only a hundred-sixty-seven on this lovely skirt! And can you believe only ninety-five on these?” I promptly lost count.

This is all clearly not true.

I started making progress again when I was noticed by a security officer unconvinced I was an investigative reporter. He booted me out on Broadway. Undaunted, I scrambled to the white pages and called the Lloyd Center administration offices. Bemused by my question, Burt Smith, the Director of Operations, put a quick finito to the problem by handing me a copy of the Lloyd Center structural plans. I counted. With stubby but nimble fingers, I punched buttons on my calculator and came up with 2,542 concrete pillars at the Lloyd Center. By Thomas Half-a-Slice Lauderdale.

I don’t think there’s any bit of me in Geek Love, but it is a great book about Portland. Read it now!”

Want to read Geek Love this summer? Simply go to the Powell’s Books website right now and order your copy. And make sure to come back next week for another installment of Thomas (Half-a-Slice) Lauderdale’s Summer Reading List!