100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do

Publication date: 25 September 2012 from Trinity University Press

Press Release:

One Brother’s Love, Loss, and Redemption through Memory

100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared by Kim Stafford

Bret and Kim Stafford, the oldest boys of the Poet Laureate and pacifist William Stafford, were close. As children, they never fought and were inseparable, yet each had their own unique place within the family. Bret was the good son, the obedient public servant; Kim the itinerant wanderer. Though their home was full of love, there was a code of silence about hard things: “Why tell what hurts?”

As childhood pleasures ebbed, this reticence took its toll on Bret. Against a backdrop of the 1950s and 60s, Bret—a puritan in the summer of love, a conscientious objector in the Vietnam era—became a casualty of his own interior war and took his life, leaving the family—and Kim—to endure the loss.

Taking its title from a pamphlet Bret ordered as a kid, 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do is a memoir that works its own magic in portraying two brothers bound by love and friendship through boyhood and adolescence, forging their way into adulthood, together and then, ultimately, apart.

Through Kim’s devotions, he shares Bret’s life and what it teaches us about the secret nature of depression, the tender ancestry of violence, the quest for harmonious relations, and finally, the trick of joy.


“A mosaic of memory, imagination, and storytelling that probes a shattering,

intractable loss, but in his lifelong labor of trying to understand himself, his brother,

and his family… Stafford also discovered that the soul is not what we inherit from any outside source… the soul might just be found in the quicksilver meanings we create out of the interplay of loss and love, sorrow and joy, the dark mysteries of grief and the blessing handful of openings on the trail where there is light shining.”

—Fred Marchant


In this heartbreaking and compassionate memoir of a boy lost and a man found, Kim Stafford eloquently sifts through what remains of his childhood—the Pacific Northwest, memory, war, rebellion, dreams, artifacts, and the archeology of the soul—to understand the tragic loss of his brother and ultimately embrace life’s endless possibility.

100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do is a work of profound love. It takes the reader through what Stafford calls “the chrysalis of the invisible”—a tunnel of fears, silences, and tragedies—in order to realize new life. For anyone seeking a fresh way to deal with old memories, this story illustrates the importance of finding good in hard stories, forging clarity out of enigma, and discovering treasures of connection and hope in those things we’ve lost.



Kim Stafford has taught since 1979 at Lewis and Clark College, where he is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute and co-director of the Documentary Studies program. He also serves as the literary executor for the estate of William Stafford. He has worked as an oral historian, letterpress printer, editor, photographer, teacher, and visiting writer in communities and colleges across the country, and in Italy, Scotland, and Bhutan. Stafford has published a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s CraftEarly Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford; ; and Having Everything Right: Essays of Place. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Oregon Governor’s Arts Award, and a Western States Book Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and children.



Pub Date:                 September 25, 2012

Price:                         $16.95 paperback/ $12.95 ebook

Pages:                       202

ISBN:                         978-1-59534-136-5 print/ 978-1-59534-137-2 ebook

Facebook:               Kim Stafford and Trinity University Press

More info:               www.tupress.org

Excerpt:                    Permission is given to reprint up to 500 words from the book gratis. Please reprint title, author name, price, and publisher name. We appreciate receiving copies of reviews and/or excerpts.


Trinity University Press is associated with one of the leading private, liberal arts and sciences universities in the United States. The press is known for publishing distinguished, award-winning books that contribute to culture and knowledge primarily in the following areas: landscape and environment; Texas, Mexico, and the Southwest; literature; and architecture and urban planning.

© Kim Stafford 2012