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‘Remarkably Bright Creatures’ author Shelby Van Pelt on growing up in Tacoma, ‘stuckness’ and more

Shelby Van Pelt grew up in Tacoma, and as a child, she says, her favorite place was the aquarium at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. “I loved to go there,” she says, “hang out for long periods of time while I sat in the dark and looked at jellyfish. I liked that it was dark; it felt more personal than other parts of the zoo. You kind of felt like you were part of it instead of just looking at animals in an enclosure. It was more immersive.”

Today, Van Pelt lives in the Midwest, but her debut novel, “Remarkably Bright Creatures,” still has its heart in the old aquarium and Pacific Northwest landscape where Van Pelt grew up. It follows Tova, a 70-year-old widow living in the fictional town of Sowell Bay and working as a night janitor at the local aquarium, whose…


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