"When I was a kid I lived in Alaska. Anchorage. My little sister Rikka and I went to Montessori school up there. Our school was called Tom Thumb; Tom Thumb Montessori School. Isn’t that embarrassing? Things could’ve been worse. Our school could’ve been named for some other English folk tale like, say, Kate Crackernuts. Kate Crackernuts Montessori School. Or something from the Brothers Grimm. Rumpelstiltskin Elementary.
Or just Grimm."

"Different times. Physical punishment of students was illegal in only a few states across the U.S. In Alaska—Anchorage—Tom Thumb—it was okay to yell at and swat and yank the collar or arm or hair of kids who weren’t yours, kids who were students at the private school you ran and their parents paid good money for those students to get a “Montessori” education. It was okay to humiliate students in front of the whole class when they got a wrong answer, or humiliate us for being shy and fat and dumb or nervous or clumsy, which most us were."

"Another way we lived and learned in fear as students of Tom Thumb Montessori School…I was in fifth grade and the older kids—us fifth through eighth graders—we were to learn how to type, which is a pretty cool thing—I think it’s a cool thing—because to a kid it’s such a grown up thing. It’s a skill, and it’s a lifelong skill, and it’s a skill that has made plenty of folks a living, and supported families, and even brought a few select “typists” fame and fortune. Of course we weren’t thinking these thoughts, just that it is a grown up thing to be able to type, and now we get to learn how to do it, which makes us grownups in a way. A step toward adulthood and all that, which is the point of compulsory education, isn’t it? But of course—because it was Tom Thumb—our enthusiasm was spoiled by fear."


KASSTEN ALONSO is a novelist and book critic, but really, is a poet at heart. He was born in Seattle, Washington and grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and Eugene, Oregon. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a whole lot of student debt from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Moving to Portland after college, Alonso worked for Powell’s Books and the public library. He sure seems to like books.

He wrote his first novel as his senior thesis project and immediately found a literary agent; “how easy this writing biz is,” he thought, until he discovered his agent was a con artist who stole a lot of hopeful writers’ money and was eventually arrested and sent to prison. An FBI agent involved in the case wrote a book about this nefarious literary agent’s exploits—and published. “How easy this writing biz is—for others,” Alonso thought.

It was tough going, but his fourth try at a novel, Core: a Romance, was published by Hawthorne Books in Portland, and was an Oregon Book Awards finalist in 2005.

Alonso has previously published in the Portland Mercury, Portland Monthly, the Oregonian, The Organ, and was a contributor to Citadel of the Spirit: Oregon's Sesquicentennial Anthology. He sure seems to like Oregon.

Alonso’s new novel, The Pet Thief, was published 15 years after he began work on it, in March 2013 by Fiction Collective 2.

He still lives and works in Portland. When he’s not at the day job, hanging out with his wife and daughter, or writing, he loves to study up on and obsess about finance and investing. While he is a member of the Author’s Guild and the National Book Critics’ Circle, he doesn’t drink coffee, sport tattoos, have a cell phone, nor Facebook or Twitter accounts. He does, however, have this website.

Kassten Alonso alternate author photo for The Pet Thief

Birthday Picnic, Gypsy Cemetery, 2012

The Way Your Hat Wears You

Perhaps the most horribly conceived author pic ever

Novels by Kassten Alonso

How does a narrator with no capacity for speech tell a story?
Fiction Collective 2
A crazy-quilt of a love story gone terribly wrong, and bad things that happen as a result.
Hawthorne Books

Freelance Work

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