Elliott Bay Book Company added a very last-minute reading by The Mary Smokes Boys author Patrick Holland to their schedule this Friday, and for good reason. Holland suddenly became available for a short tour of the US. Smokes was published to great acclaim in Australia in 2010, and it's being brought over to America by wonderful Portland publisher Hawthorne Books. The books editor at the Portland Mercury, Alison Hallett, reviewed the book last week:

Grey and his sister Irene live in Mary Smokes, a "forgotten town whose smallness constricted their aspirations." The siblings grew up poor—their mother is dead, their father distant and alcoholic, and their closest thing to a family is Grey's friends, a crew of heavy-drinking outcasts perennially toeing the line between the right and wrong sides of the law.

Grey, his sister's sole caretaker, struggles with his responsibility for the young girl even as he tries to navigate his own romantic and professional life. Horse thieves, gambling, and gangsters make up the backdrop of their lives, but there's nothing exciting or glamorous about it, and the prospect of life outside of Mary Smokes is both tantalizing and out of reach.

Holland will be appearing in conversation with local author Caleb Powell at 7pm at Elliott Bay on Friday. The reading is free. I'd encourage you to go check it out and see if the book piques your interest; the last few times I've gone to see Australian authors at Elliott Bay, I've found myself totally charmed by their friendliness, their humor, and their openness about the writing process. Let's see if Holland lives up to my baseless and shameful stereotype of an entire nation's authors.