CORVALLIS - Finalists for the 1999 Oregon Book Awards were announced and five of those finalists have Oregon State University connections.

Tracy Daugherty, a faculty member in OSU's Department of English, was nominated for the H.L. Davis Award for Fiction for his book, "The Boy Orator," a story about Oklahoma socialists prior to World War I. He won the award in 1996 for his novel, "What Falls Away."

Daugherty, who is recovering from open heart surgery, said he was grateful to be a finalist.

"The book received very little attention, in part because I was unable to go on the road much to read from it," he said. "I'm doing better now, but health problems put things in perspective for you. Winning and losing don't seem so important. I'm just glad to be here, still, to write stories about the people and places I love."

Also nominated in the fiction category was Ehud Havazelet for his widely praised book, "Like Never Before." Written when he was a faculty member in OSU's Department of English, the book has been glowingly reviewed nationwide. Havazelet is now on the faculty at the University of Oregon.

Clemens Starck, a carpenter for OSU's facilities services, is a finalist for the Hazel Hall Award for Poetry. He was nominated for his second book of poems, "Studying Russian on Company Time."

Starck, who lives in Dallas, Ore., stunned the Oregon literary world with his debut, "Journeyman's Wages," which won the Oregon Book Award in 1996.

Starck's latest effort explores his visits to Russia and his quest to learn Russian.

"It's a nice honor," said Starck. "I've gotten to know some of the other nominees and they're good people as well as accomplished poets. It's nice to be in that company."

The Oregon State University Press published two books that were nominated for the Frances Fuller Victor Award for Literary Nonfiction. Nominated were "The Left Hand of Eden," written by William Ashworth of Ashland, and "Peace at Heart," by Barbara Drake of Yamhill.

"The Left Hand of Eden: Meditations on Nature and Human Nature" has been called an important contribution to the environmental debate because it comes from an unusual perspective that of an environmentalist arguing against preservation.

"Peace at Heart: An Oregon Country Life," is a series of essays about life on a small farm in Yamhill County, touching on birthing lambs, raising geese, keeping bees and making wine. The essays combine humor with a respect for the land.

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Oregon Book Awards, 503-227-2583