Ear: Hummasti

"Erick Bengel did a nice feature (bit.ly/NHourcoast) on the release of my brother's two novels, 'I See London, I See France …' and 'Forty Ways to Square a Circle,' which I had just published," Astorian Arnie Hummasti wrote.

"My brother, Neil Hummasti, lived most of his life in Astoria, born here and died here of pancreatic cancer in 2011. He was a high school language arts teacher, having taught at Warrenton High School and Jewell High School and as a substitute in Astoria schools."

Neil is pictured, along with the cover of "Forty Ways to Square a Circle," illustrated by another Astorian, the late Dave McMacken.

"Neil had been successful in getting a number of his short stories published in various magazines and literary reviews, and came very close to having 'I See London, I See France …' published through a major New York publishing house.

"I finally decided in 2018 that his work deserved to be more widely read, and that's when I published the two novels." Arnie formed Svensen Pioneer Press — named after Svensen Pioneer Cemetery, where Neil is buried — to publish them.

On the books' website, neilhummasti.com, you can read a biography of Neil, some of his short stories — a few of which are written under the pseudonym Ben Champion (Arnie doesn't know why he used a pseudonym) — and buy the books. Neil's works are also available on Amazon.com

Arnie's faith in his brother's writing has been rewarded. Recently he announced that "Forty Ways to Square a Circle" is a finalist for the Wishing Shelf Book Award, a British honor established to promote excellence in independent publishing. The winners will be announced in April.

"My hope is to complete, in some measure, what he was unable to: to share his literary gifts with a wider audience," Arnie wrote. "I believe his talent is worthy of broader exposure, and hope you will take a chance and leaf through his writing. If you do, and like it as much as I do, please spread the word."

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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