Pauls Toutonghi – Evel Knievel Days

Butte, Montana to Cairo, Egypt — in one great leap.

About Pauls Toutonghi

Pauls Toutonghi was born in 1976 to an Egyptian father and a Latvian mother. His writing has appeared in Granta, The New York Times, Zoetrope: All-Story, The Boston Review, Five Chapters, One Story, Sports Illustrated, Book Magazine, and numerous other periodicals. He received a Pushcart Prize for his short story, Regeneration, which appeared in The Boston Review in 2000, when Pauls was twenty-three.

Here is an LA Times piece about his class on the rock n’ roll novel.

His first novel, Red Weather, came out from Random House in 2006. It was translated into Latvian and German — and received good reviews in periodicals across the country, including The Miami Herald, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, The Oregonian, The Chicago Tribune, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

After receiving his PhD in English Literature from Cornell University, Toutonghi moved from Brooklyn, New York to Portland, Oregon — where he now teaches at Lewis & Clark College. He is the father of twins.

You can email Pauls at toutonghi@gmail.com — or direct queries regarding events, interview, or reviews to Sarah Breivogel at SBreivogel@randomhouse.com.

20 comments on “About Pauls Toutonghi

  1. RC Liepins
    September 21, 2007

    Hello, Pauls. Just recently finished Red Weather; it was recommended to me by a long-time friend who works for Watermark Books in Wichita, Kansas. I enjoyed your book very much, thank you for writing it. My father-in-law is from Riga. He left Latvia for a DP camp in Germany in the 1940s, and is retired from the US Army. His car sports a bumper sticker reading “Svieks!” Bait, of course, for fellow Latvians. Have a great day.

    RC Liepins

  2. Sven SHeraton
    October 16, 2007

    I got totally wasted at this place called buehaland

  3. Robert Westover
    November 1, 2007

    Hello Pauls – Congratulations on “Red Weather”! Great to see you’re doing so well! Honestly, I’m not surprised. Having reviewed so many writing submissions while at the NEA when I read your work I knew it would only be a matter of time… (Have yet to read Red Weather but will set some time aside to do so.) I hope to see many more excellent books out of you!

    Cheers,
    Robert Westover,
    Washington, DC

  4. marc wezdecki
    November 5, 2007

    Hi Pauls,

    This from an ex-student of yours at Gotham. When is your next book coming out? (is it still the one about the Russian ballerina who gets knocked up by a twelve-footed alien with two left feet?) Hope all is well.

    marc wezdecki

  5. Alison Lacivita
    September 22, 2008

    Pauls!

    I watched the copy of About A Boy you rented from the Blockbuste in Burlington the other night, here in Dublin. That movie has travelled a long way.

    (Pssst. Send me an e-mail, please?)

    Love,
    Alison

  6. Abbie Anderson
    October 16, 2008

    Dude, I graduated from Garfield 10 years before you did. I, too, went away (to Indiana) and came back (to Vancouver, WA). I became a librarian instead of a writer, though. ;)

    My morning book group just discussed Red Weather today, and we found it a rich and quietly moving read. We had special fun with the title, and Stevens’ image of the drunken sailor catching tigers. What voices your characters have, including your narrator. I particularly savored the closing of your epilogue, with its invitation to begin again.

    I quietly wonder whether I can afford you as a guest author. Ahem.

  7. andrea
    January 2, 2009

    Sveiks! Greetings from the Portland Latvian under the age of 45 crowd. Biruta passed on your name. My friend Tia is having a house warming party on Saturday and is extending an invite. Email me back if you can make it. People are showing up at 3 and trickeling in throughout the night.

    - Andrea

  8. Dennis Corvin Blackburn
    January 26, 2009

    just finished Red Weather. made you think about how I could have been kinder to my father. Maybe I’ll give it to my son to read. great book

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  10. Nathalie
    July 17, 2009

    I only want to thank you for presenting me Yuri. While reading the book I lived the story because I share a similar destiny to Yuri. My parents came from Poland to Germany before I was born. My mother used to be a high-class chemist and has to clean other peoples houses now. She also drinks a lot because of that but she never complained about her life- tragic but brave, just as I see the character of Yuris father.
    My father has his own little “Zigorskis” in our town and the business is quite good. I still wait for a lettish client coming to us and shouting and roaring for a hering.
    You made it easier for me to understand my immegranted parents and made me feel less lonesome with my east european destiny.

  11. Jack Collins
    August 8, 2009

    Dear Mr. Pauls Toutonghi,
    Read of you in today’s Los Angeles Times Jacketcopy. I would like to invite you to join us in our 7th annual Friends of the Duarte Library Festival of Authors Saturday, Oct. 3rd 2009 in Duarte Ca. Duarte is 20 miles east of Los Angeles. Each year we have appox. 50 authors sell/sign their books, give talks and serve on panels. For information please contact;
    http://www.friendsoftheduartelibrary.com/authorsfestival
    There tou will find our ’2009 Exhibitor Application’ and contacts.

    Jack Collins
    Duarte, Ca.

  12. Monika
    August 13, 2009

    Dear Pauls,

    Thank you so much for the Red Weather (which has a really funky title in Germany). I cannot stop laughing when I read it, as it is so tragically funny. Maybe I should read the English version, too, to find out how the father really speaks – I do think the idea comes through quite well in the translation.

    Monika (who also never learnt to speak her father’s language, just like Yuri)

  13. Janina
    October 31, 2009

    Dear Pauls,

    I want to thank you for the book “Red Weather” (in Germany it has the title “Die Geschichte von Yuri Balodis und dessen Vater, der eigentlich Country-Star war” lol, very long and funny title)
    I read a lot of books, and most of them are nice, but your book is my favourite. I’ve read it now for the second time and I think, next year I will read it again.
    I hope there will be anoher book by you, which is translated into german !

    Best regards, Janina

    • paulstoutonghi
      November 2, 2009

      Thank you so much!
      Yes — I am working on the next book, certainly. Soon, hopefully!
      All the best,
      Pauls

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  15. Damian Van Denburgh
    March 9, 2011

    Pauls,

    Hello. I’m Damian Van Denburgh, Senior Books Editor of Critical Mob, a
    literary and arts review website. After reading some of your reviews and articles on Bookslut, I wanted to ask if you’d be interested in writing reviews for us. Here’s a link to our website:

    http://www.criticalmob.com/

    and a link to our Books section:

    http://www.criticalmob.com/books/

    We’re looking for experienced freelance writers with honed critical skills and a deep love of reading who can commit to writing for our Books section. Your level of commitment – how often you’re able to contribute to Critical Mob on a monthly basis – can be determined by you. All work will be paid for on a monthly basis as well. If this interests you, I’d be happy to talk about it with you in more detail.

    Thank you for reading this. I hope to hear from you.

    Damian Van Denburgh
    Senior Books Editor
    http://www.criticalmob.com

  16. adcorre
    June 14, 2011

    Wisconsin Public Radio (wpr.org) has a program for summer reading. I called in and recommended your book Red Weather, especially for Milwaukee denizens. At the same time I recommended Gleick’s The Information. Hardly possible to imagine two more different books, but it’s great to switch between them while enjoying the 2-month long Milwaukee summer. Waiting for the book you promised 18 months ago.
    Alan Corré

  17. Karen Cacy
    July 15, 2012

    Dear Mr. Toutonghi — I wonder if I might convince you to have a look at my novel about contemporary Egypt, “Return to Ismailia,” available on Amazon Kindle. I live near Lewis & Clark and would love to share a cup of coffee with you. I am Karen (Hagestad) Cacy, and you may reach me via internet: beachboohoo@yahoo.com. I hope we might meet!

  18. Tim
    August 26, 2013

    I loved Evel Knievel Days, and I recommend it frequently. I was so pleased to see “chaise longue” correctly employed, but surprised to see “guide wire” instead of “guy wire”!

  19. Greg
    November 18, 2013

    Pauls,
    I am half way through Evil Knievel Days and it is great. Although i live in Canada i visit Butte every so many years. Seeing the title with Knievels name on the cover made me originally pick it up, but the story within is exciting as his jumps. Your wit reminds me of Richard Brautigan who lived partially in Montana and gave that wonderful state some focus. Keep up the good work! If I ever make my way out to Portland, i would love to get my copy signed….
    -Greg

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