Warlight

Local Indie Bookstore Summer Reading Picks, part 1

Earlier this spring, we reached out to a handful of our favorite bookstores to discover their picks for the perfect summer read. Whether you're in the mood for something light or serious, we've got you covered. We start off with summer reading picks from Left Bank Books and The Norwich Bookstore.


Left Bank Books, Hanover, New Hampshire

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If you've ever happened across Left Bank Books, you'll know what a special spot this is. A second floor, mostly used bookshop overlooking Hanover's bustling Main Street, Left Bank has a wonderfully curated selection of used books, hosts many unique events, supports Bloodroot Literary Magazine, and has been a loyal friend to Literary North. We are lucky to have Left Bank in the Upper Valley.

Left Bank's owner, Nancy Cressman, had these four selections to share with us:

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

This story, set in Italy along the rocky coast and moving on to glamorous Los Angeles, introduces you to characters whose temperaments match the terrain. You are immediately drawn in to the story because of the compelling characters who carry their loves and pains a lifetime. Surprises await!

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

This is a book with a light touch on some very deep themes including trust and how your life is sometimes more layered than even you know. Set in a bookstore with a book store owner as a main character and with its many references to literary masterpieces, this story with its novel construction will bring pleasure to book lovers of every age.

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Drinking the Rain, by Alix Kates Shulman

A memoir of a woman turning 50 who discovers in the yard and rocky shore frontage of her primitive cabin on the Maine coast an environment that nourishes her both literally and figuratively from the moment she returns for her summer retreat. She comes to write, but instead finds herself awakened to genuine curiosity, a feeling she had lost at great cost and, with great effort, regains.

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Evicted, by Matthew Desmond

This award winning nonfiction book published in 2016 is a study of housing struggles and the intersection of poverty and public policy on those struggles. Follow along with Harvard University sociologist Desmond as he delves into how eight families in Milwaukee struggle to keep a roof over their heads. You will be brought into the lives of these families, and his vivid prose paints a searing picture that will educate and build compassion.


The Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vermont

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The Norwich Bookstore is the quintessential, independent bookstore in downtown Norwich. Two floors of books, a dedicated bookselling staff that you'll quickly learn by name if you're a voracious reader, great customer service—they have it all! This bookstore is a definite must-visit if you find yourself in Norwich. Literary North has partnered with The Norwich Bookstore for author events in the past and will have The Norwich Bookstore provide books for our upcoming Poetry & Pie event. One of our favorite places to shop!

The High Season, by Judy Blundell

Beth's Tips for Summer Reading:

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  1. Pick up High Season and turn to page 76.
  2. Start reading at the bottom, "Summer is my favorite season..."
  3. Imagine yourself continuing in the sunshine, with a cool drink close at hand.
  4. Buy the book and read it while you ignore the rest of the world.
  5. Finish by having your breath taken away by the last line.
  6. Come in and tell us some of your favorite lines.

We love talking books with you, and *bonus* we can recommend another so you can start the whole process all over again. Summer should be about losing yourself in a book. This is a great place to start. —Beth Reynolds

 

Midnight Blue, by Simone Van der Vlugt

A story of 17th century Holland that reads like a Vermeer painting in depth and detail. Twenty-five-year-old Catrin hastily leaves her small village to take a job as a housekeeper in the home of a wealthy merchant in Amsterdam. Helping his wife finish a painting, Catrin shows an extraordinary talent, which ultimately takes her to Delft where the new blue and white pottery is sweeping the industry. But 1654 is a deadly time in Europe and ultimately tragic choices must be made. Colors are vivid. Smells are intense. This is an historical novel that heightens the senses. —Susan Voake

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Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje

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This is Ondaatje's first novel since the estimable The Cat's Table (2011) and, boy, is it worth the wait. The story follows two siblings who have been mysteriously abandoned by their parents in the aftermath of the Blitz in London. It has all the trademark Ondaatje themes: what parents owe their children (and vice versa), the seduction and destruction of war, memory and the "ravine" of childhood, what one does with the history and traits one inherits, and of course the endlessly fascinating elements of love. Ondaatje is an artist who paints with words and woven into this intricate puzzle of a book, are indelible images. Just read the first sentence and try to resist. —Carin Pratt


For middle grade readers:

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Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea, by Lynne Rae Perkins

Sisters Alix and Jools, along with their parents, spend a summer week at the beach. We have the pleasure of experiencing the sea for the first time through their eyes —and ears and hopes and fears! A refreshingly wonderful interlude in the otherwise tumultuous array of chapter books written for this age group. No parent dies, no one is abused, there are no floods: just caring and sharing, learning and growing with wonder about the world around them. —Liza Bernard

 

The Ensemble, by Aja Gabel

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It is always a joy to come upon a debut novel by an author who excels at her craft and is a good storyteller. The Ensemble is just that. This is a story of a young string quartet founded in San Francisco that moves through the lives of its members spanning their 20's into their 40's. These are complex lives, both individually and as members of an group who need to be so fine-tuned to each other that they play as one. Everything each individual does has ramifications within the whole. Being a lover of chamber music increased my enjoyment of this book, but it is definitely not a prerequisite. The Ensemble was one of those delicious novels that I did not want to end. —Penny McConnel

The Dipper - May 2018

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know!

 

May News

We've made it! Unfrozen precipitation is falling all over the brown-turning-green grass. Bulbs are shooting up. Buds are breaking out. Maybe some of you have even taken the snow tires off your car. Let's call it Spring, and with it we have so much wonderfulness to celebrate.

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First of all, our Lady Sings the Blues book group is happening this month, on Tuesday, May 15, at Yankee Bookshop! It's not too late to read the book and join us! We're getting excited for some great conversation, a little Billie Holiday music, and some freshly baked refreshments. For full details, head over to the LN Events page.

Whether or not you can attend the Lady Sings the Blues book group, you won't want to miss seeing JAG Productions' Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill at The Engine Room in White River Junction, Vermont, May 24 to 27 (also in Pomfret and Burlington late May through early June). If you attended JAGfest or any other JAG shows, you already have an inkling of how great this show will be. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the JAG Productions website.

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A couple weeks ago, we had the chance to interview YA writer Jo Knowles and comic maker Tillie Walden about their 2018 summer workshop, "Creating Graphic Novels for the YA Market," at The Center for Cartoon Studies. Individually, Jo and Tillie are smart, creative, articulate, and fun people. Together, they form a dynamic duo of graphic novel power! Read the interview, and then sign up for their workshop!

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Finally, we are beyond thrilled to announce Poetry & Pie II!

It's happening Saturday, July 21, at 3:00 pm, at Sweetland Farm in Norwich, Vermont. Wonderful poets Didi Jackson, Julia Shipley, and Ocean Vuong will be there, reading poems and eating pie. We'd love you to be there, too! We'll have an open mic, lots of great conversation, pie, pie, and more pie. For details and to RSVP, visit the LN Events page.

 

May's Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month!

  • Our friend James Crews is teaching an online Mindfulness and Writing workshop from May 5 to June 2. If you made it to Poetry & Pie last July, you already know how wonderful James is. There will be exercises/prompts, videos, readings, and the opportunity for a phone consult at the end of the course. All levels are welcome. —Shari
     
  • The first sestina I fell for is Elizabeth Bishop's, but I've never attempted writing my own—yet. If you're like me and need a little help, local writer and all-around wonderful human Rena Mosteirin has created a little software tool that generates the correct order for your selected end words. As she notes, the source code for the program is itself a sestina. ♥—Rebecca

May Highlights

Morgan Parker. Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Morgan Parker. Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Natalie Shapero and Morgan Parker read from their poetry collections at Bennington College on Wednesday, May 2 at 7:00 pm.

The Bloodroot Literary Magazine launch party for Issue 10 is happening at Left Bank Books in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Friday, May 4, from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Hannah Howard will read from Feast, followed by an open mic for all Upper Valley writers.

Bianca Stone. Photo by Hillery Stone

Bianca Stone. Photo by Hillery Stone

Waking Windows hosts the Page Burner Reading Series in Winooski, Vermont, on Saturday, May 5 at various locations beginning at noon. Authors include James Crews, Jessica Hendry Nelson, Annie DeWitt, and Bianca Stone.

A new season of Talk of the Porch begins on Monday, May 7 and will continue most Mondays in May, June, and August. Based at the Craftsbury Public Library in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, and led by Vermont writers Stark Biddle and Julia Shipley, Talk of the Porch is a slightly irreverent but totally intense reading/discussion group focused on fiction in The New Yorker. Copies of the week's stories are available at the library starting the Wednesday before each meeting.

Poet Joshua Bennett will read at Dartmouth College's Sanborn Library in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Thursday, May 10 at 4:30 pm and then award the Dartmouth Creative Writing Prize.

Bernd Heinrich is reading from his new collection, A Naturalist at Large, at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, on Friday, May 11 at 7:00 pm.

Local author Melanie Finn will be at The Norwich Bookstore on Wednesday, May 16 at 7:00 pm to launch her new novel, The Underneath.

Ross Gay

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You'll be able to catch poet Ross Gay at two Vermont venues this month: Wednesday, May 16 at Bennington College, and Thursday, May 17 at Vermont Studio Center. We are very much looking forward to his new book of essays coming in 2019.

The 2018 Hyla Brook Reading Series begins on Thursday, May 17 at 6:30 pm with poet David Davis. The series' readings take place May through September at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire.

Poets April Ossman and Cynthia Huntington will be reading at Phoenix Books in Rutland, Vermont, on Thursday, May 31 at 6:30 pm.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

Rachel Kushner will be at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Thursday, May 3 at 7:00 pm to read from her new novel, The Mars Room.

If you missed Bruce Kennett's terrific talk about designer and renaissance man W. A. Dwiggins at Left Bank Books in April, you have an opportunity to catch him at Hingham Public Library in Hingham, Massachusetts, on Thursday, May 3 at 7:00 pm.

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The 10th Massachusetts Poetry Festival is taking place from Friday, May 4 to Saturday, May 6 in various venues around Salem, Massachusetts. This year's festival features Sonia Sanchez, Kaveh Akbar, Duy Doan, Jeffrey Harrison, Dorianne Laux, Erika Meitner, Carl Phillips, Nicole Sealey, Sean Thomas Dougherty, and Rhina P. Espaillat.

Charles Simic—poet, essayist, and translator—is the featured guest at the Kittery Art Association's annual Mangion Memorial Poetry Celebration on Saturday, May 5, beginning with an interview and craft talk from 3:00 to 4:30 pm, followed by a reading, reception, and book signing beginning at 7:00 pm. The events will be held at the First Congregational Church in Kittery Point, Maine.

 

Worth a Listen

Michelle Dean speaks about her new book, Sharp, and her early career on the Longform podcast.

Take a listen to Alexander Chee on the Fail Safe podcast and you'll quickly see how lucky we are to have Alex at Dartmouth. Make sure you mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 9, when he'll be reading at The Norwich Bookstore.

 

We're Looking Forward to These May Releases

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The Frost Place 2018 Conference on Poetry and Teaching (June 23 to 26) and Writing Intensive (June 27 to 28) is now accepting applications. The conference application deadline is May 17. The application fee is $25. Tuition is $725. Meals are $145. The Writing Intensive is $180. For more information and to apply, please visit the Conference page.

The Frost Place Conference on Poetry (July 8 to 14) is also accepting applications. The conference application deadline is May 31. The application fee is $25. Conference rates are from $250 (day rate) to $1550 (includes all tuition, meals, and lodging). For more information and to apply, please visit the Conference page.

Registration is still open for the VCFA Novel Retreat (May 15 to 21). Faculty includes Connie May FowlerJeff KleinmanRichard McCann, and Crystal Wilkinson. A $200 non-refundable deposit is required. For more information, please visit the Novel Retreat page.

The Bennington Review is open for submissions through May 15 with no reading fee. For more information, please visit the Bennington Review Submissions page.

nErDcampVT is accepting registrations for their "unconference" (May 20), which focuses on literacy, at Burlington High School in Burlington, Vermont. The event is free but you must register in advance. For more information and to register, please visit their website.

The New England Review is open for poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and digital submissions through May 31. For more information, please visit the NER Submissions page.

Green Writers Press is accepting submissions through June 1 for the 2nd Annual Howard Frank Mosher First Novel and Short Story Prize. This prize is for a novelist or short story writer who writes about Vermont and/or the themes that resonate so well with Howard's work: nature, small-town stories, love, friendship, forgiveness, Vermont, solitude, and rural life. All ages are welcome to submit. For more information, please visit the Green Writers Press website.

The Frost Place Poetry Seminar (July 29 to August 3) is accepting applications. The scholarship application deadline is May 24. The seminar application deadline is June 28. The application fee is $15. Seminar rates are from $250 (day rate) to $1550 (includes all tuition, meals, and lodging). For more information and to apply, please visit the Seminar page.

Putney Mountain Association and Antidote Books have announced the first Putney Mountain Poetry Contest. Judged by poet Seth Landman, the winner will receive a broadside print of their poem displayed at the Putney Mountain Trailhead and a featured reading at Antidote Books. Submit up to three original poems inspired by the Vermont landscape as PDFs to putney.poetry@gmail.com. Do not include your name on the poems, but please include your name, town of residence, and contact information in the email. All entries are due by June 30.

The Hopper, a literary magazine from Green Writers Press, is accepting submissions of full-length manuscripts to its 2018 Hopper Poetry Prize through July 1. Judged by Amie Whittemore, the winner of this contest will receive $500 and publication by Green Writers Press. The contest is open to all poets with an identified interest in the natural world. There is a $25 entry fee. For more information and to see work by previous contest winners, please visit the Hopper Prize page.

Clara Martin Center is seeking submissions for their third annual art/poetry show entitled "Abundance: Celebrating Creativity in Mental Health, Wellness, and Recovery" (September 10 to November 2). You are invited to submit poetry, 2-D or 3-D artwork to display in the exhibit. Submissions are due by July 31. Applicants must be Vermont residents, and preference is given to artists/writers in the Upper Valley. For more information, please visit Clara Martin Center's website.

Registration is open for the 3rd Annual Poetry Festival at the Fine Arts Work Center (August 5 to 10) in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The Festival includes poetry and songwriting workshops. Faculty includes Traci Brimhall, Cornelius Eady, Nick Flynn, Vievee Francis, Ross Gay, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Patty Larkin, and Patrick Rosal. For information on tuition, housing, and registration, please visit the FAWC Festival page.

The Burlington Writers Workshop 2018 anthology team is pleased to invite submissions from the BWW community. Fiction, flash fiction, poetry, memoir, personal essay—it's all welcome. The only requirement for submission is that you must have attended at least one BWW workshop within the past five years. For more information, please visit the Burlington Writers Workshop website.

Registration is now open for The Center for Cartoon Studies Summer Workshops (June 11 to August 10), in White River Junction, Vermont. This year's workshops include everything from drawing and writing single-panel comics, to creating graphic memoirs and novels, taught by award-winning artists and writers, including Hilary Price, Jo Knowles, Tillie Walden, and Melanie Gillman. Tuition ranges from $600 to $1200. For more information and to register, please visit the Summer Workshops page.

The Poetry Society of Vermont's Summer Contests are open. Submissions must be received by July 1. For more information, please visit the Contests and Awards page.


May Workshops and Classes

Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer? Hungry for a book that shows you how to write and revise your novel without an outline? Author and writing coach Annalisa Parent will walk you through the elements of a publishable manuscript during her "Storytelling for Pantsers" workshop on Thursday, May 3 (5:30 to 6:30 pm), at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire. For more information and to register, please visit the Event page.

From Saturday, May 5 through Saturday, June 2, James Crews is teaching a Mindfulness & Writing online workshop. $195. This course is open to all levels. For more information and to register, please visit the Northshire Books website.

Elayne Clift of The Writer's Center in White River Junction, Vermont is offering a workshop called "Life Stories: Memories of Love, Action and Thought," on Saturday, May 5 (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). This workshop will guide participants as they write and share stories “to know precisely what the past was, to explore this knowledge and these memories, and then to wait and see what comes of knowing and remembering. $35. For more information and to register, please visit the Workshop page.

On Saturday, May 5 (2:00 to 5:00 pm), Carol Potter of The Writer's Center, in White River Junction, Vermont, is offering a workshop titled "Shaking the Tree: Experiments with Form." In this workshop you will explore experimental forms and quasi-traditional forms in poetry from the “American sonnet” to the pantoum to Terrance Hayes’ “Golden Shovel” to the Prose poem. $150. For more information and to register, please visit the Workshops page.

Joni Cole of The Writer's Center in White River Junction, Vermont is offering two "How to Write More, Writer Better, and Be Happier" retreats. On Saturday, May 5, join Joni for a full-day retreat (9:30 am to 3:30 pm) in Greensboro, Vermont. The cost is $150. On Thursday, May 26, Joni will be offering a half-day version (9:00 am to 1:00 pm) in Woodstock, Vermont; the cost is $100. For more information and to register, please visit the Workshop page.

On Monday, May 7 (6:30 to 8:00 pm), join poet Gary Margolis for a continuation of his workshops on the poetic line, hosted by Burlington Writers Workshop, in Burlington, Vermont. If you were in the original workshop, bring with you the copies you were given and bring extra copies of your poems for anyone new who signs up. In addition, bring copies of either a poem whose use of line you admire or a poem that is well-regarded but whose use of line baffles you. For more information and to register, please visit the BWW Workshop page.

The League of Vermont Writers is offering "The Critic and the Muse" workshop on Thursday, May 12 (12:30 to 4:30 pm) at the Expressive Arts Studio in Burlington, Vermont. This four-hour workshop uses collage and free writing to help you explore and form a conscious relationship with the invisible powers that help or inhibit your writing. $60 for members; $80 for non-members. Registration closes on May 7. For more information and to register, please visit the Gatherings page.

On Friday, May 18 (10:00 am to 3:00 pm), join Andy Kolvos, Vermont Folklife Center Director of Archives and Research, for a workshop on recording audio for oral history and ethnography. In this workshop, attendees will receive a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of digital audio, types of common field-recording microphones, and the use of digital audio recorders. The workshop will be held at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, Vermont. $95. For more information, please visit the Event page.