About Suburgian

Matt Briggs

About Suburgian

My name is Matt Briggs. I’m a writer living in the suburbs south of Seattle, north of Tacoma.

About Matt Briggs

I’ve written some books set in the Seattle area. Several of these books are based on my experience growing up in the Snoqualmie Valley in the 70s and early 80s. Both of my parents grew up in Seattle, but in the early 70s wanted to move to a place where they could grow their own food and escape the city. Some of their friends could afford lands in British Columbia or Idaho. My parents kept their jobs, working in diners, and bought an acre of land in the middle of the forest.

Hold out photo “Spite Mounds,” 1910 Asahel Curtis University of Washington Special Collections

Rural, not rural

While living in the valley, the Weyerhauser Mill in Snoqualmie processed timber, Interstate 90 was not yet complete, there as still a buckle in Floating Bridge, and Microsoft had yet to be founded. The year after I graduated from high school, the mill was closed, the original floating bridge sunk, and Microsoft had recently occupied its corporate campus in the forest near OverLake on the East Side and released its very international product, MS-DOS 4.01. Explaining the transformation in the same period, in the 1996 documentary Hype! Sub Pop’s Bruce Pavitt ask the filmmakers to pan across Seattle. He says something to the effect that when Sub Pop came, Seattle a sleepy fishing village on the shores of Puget Sound, and now it is the bustling metropolis you see before you.

When I began writing I aspired to be a regional writer. I didn’t see anything limiting about this concept. The books that I love and the writers that are meaningful to me are from somewhere and are closely associated with their place. Chris Offut is from Lexington. John Steinbeck is from Silinas. Janet Frame is from Dunedin. James Joyce is from Dublin. Nikolai Gogal is a Ukrainian from St. Petersburg.

And yet, there is very little the Seattle or the Pacific Northwest my parents grew up in, or that I grew up in that remains for my daughter. The other day my daughter said she didn’t know that Ivar’s Acres of Clams was named after a person. The person being Iver Haglund, a folk singer business man that represents a central figure in 20th century Seattle culture. In fact the even more forgotten regional novelist, Nard Jones, a major Seattle novelist and writer is completely unknown among the current raft of neo-regionalist such as Cascadia Magazine, Cascadia Now, Moss Lit, and Old Growth Northwest. (Oh scratch Old Growth Northwest since the organization has already come and gone.) Jones wrote in his book Seattle, about Ivar Haglund, he was “not afraid to reflect Puget Sound tradition in the decor of his restaurants, whereas others of his profession seem intent on making their patrons forget where they are.”

Hold out

The solidity of this where they are as proven to be as ephemeral in the regional miasma of Seattle as a non-profit organization like Old Growth Northwest. This site then is a place for me to attempt to resist the rate of change not as a conservationist but more like a Denny Hill hold out.