Humboldt Journal of Social Relations


Keith Scribner’s most recent novel, The Oregon Experiment,1 personalizes the politics of secessionism. Scanlon and Naomi Pratt are Easterners who have recently moved to small-town Oregon, where he has taken a job as a professor specializing in domestic radical and mass movements; she is a professional “nose” (perfume designer) who has lost her sense of smell. Their relocation is an act of reinvention, he finding abundant local research material and her nose reawakened by new western scents. However, reinvention soon threatens their marriage when the lives of Scanlon’s research subjects—Clay, an anarchist who loathes him but is drawn to his wife, and Sequoia, a sensuous secessionist who attracts the professor—become intertwined with theirs. Set against the background of local protests against state and federal authorities that are redolent of dynamics in the contemporary State of Jefferson secessionist movement, The Oregon Experiment, as enthusiastically reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle, “makes the potential cultural and economic independence of Cascadia worth pondering rather than snickering at...” In an interview with the editor of this issue of HJSR, Scribner, who is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University, elaborates on how the State of Jefferson influenced The Oregon Experiment.