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The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

OSU professor to host Random Review at Corvallis public library

Miky Pope
Karen Holmberg talks about Van Pelt’s novel Remarkably Bright Creatures at Moreland Hall at Oregon State University on January 31st, 2024.

Oregon State University Associate Professor Karen Holmberg will be hosting Random Review on Feb. 14 at Corvallis-Benton County Public Library to discuss Shelby Van Pelt’s novel Remarkably Bright Creatures.

Set in the Pacific Northwest, according to Shelby Van Pelt’s website, Remarkably Bright Creatures tells the story of Tova Sullivan, a recent widow who gets a night job as a custodian at the fictitious Sowell Bay Aquarium. 

While working at the aquarium, she befriends a curmudgeonly octopus named Marcellus who knows more than he lets on about the mysterious disappearance of Tova’s son 30 years ago.

“It’s a really touching and unique novel,” Holmgren said. “It was written during the pandemic, and you can tell, because all of the characters feel isolated, unconnected from each other. The book is really about love and the pain of loss and healing from that pain.”

Co-sponsored by Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, Random Review is, according to the library’s website, “a deep exploration of a selected book by a reviewer with expertise on the topic or theme of that book.” 

Holmberg said that she was chosen to review Remarkably Bright Creatures due to her poetry that is heavily marine-based. Holmberg’s two books of poetry have won such esteemed awards as Vassar Miller Prize and the John Ciardi Prize.

“This is my first time doing Random Review,” Holmberg said. “I, of course, do lectures–I just got back from teaching in Poland–but I’ve never done something like this. I also helped create a course here at OSU called ‘Writing of The Sea’, so they thought I was a good fit to talk about the book.”

Holmberg went on to say that she thought the novel was a good fit for Corvallis and OSU due to it being set in the Pacific Northwest and featuring a supercilious talking octopus. 

“One of the biggest draws for the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport is its giant octopus tours,” Holmberg said. “So I think Marcellus is a big selling point for this book.”  

Aside from going in-depth into Van Pelt’s debut novel, Holmberg plans on providing an interactive writing activity to get the audience involved in the writing process.

For those readers who wish to know more about the event, visit Corvallis Public Library’s website. For those who wish to know more about Remarkably Bright Creatures and its author Shelby Van Pelt, follow this link. Look for Karen Holmberg’s upcoming Young Adult novel The Collagist in stores this April.

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