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A Year in Independently Published Nonfiction in the 802 

State of the Arts

Another year, another 50-odd Vermont-authored books that found their way to the Seven Days office. That number increases every year, as more and more local writers turn to some form of self- or independent publishing.

These days, it can be difficult to know just how a book became a book. Some small, independent publishing companies print works the editors have painstakingly selected and vetted. Some exist to print the works of a single writer — who’s also the publisher. And some writers pay print-on-demand services such as Shires Press (operated by Manchester’s Northshire Bookstore) to put their books out there.

Call it what you will — the new publishing paradigm leaves us with more books than we can read. Here are some of the titles we received this year. Perhaps we’ll revisit a few in 2011. In a year when “Jersey Shore”’s Snooki and the Situation managed to snag book contracts, we’re aware that the name of a big New York publisher on the spine is no guarantee of quality.

Look for a roundup of independently published fiction and poetry early next year. Most of these books can be ordered online or through your local bookseller. I’ve included price information when it was on the jacket.

Forest Under My Fingernails: Reflections and Encounters on the Long Trail by Walt McLaughlin. A North Ferrisburgh publisher put out this handsome little volume by the St. Albans guide and journalist, who also publishes nature-related titles through his own Wood Thrush Books. His meditative narrative of solo hiking is worth a look as the Green Mountain Club’s centennial year draws to a close. (Heron Dance Press, 177 pages. $15.95.)

Golden Times: Tales Through the Sugarhouse Window by Burr Morse. “My roots go back over 200 years in this bony, Vermont soil and my memory has seen fifty-five of them,” writes Morse of Montpelier’s Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. His tales of those years come with glowing blurbs from Gov. Jim Douglas and Willem Lange. (175 pages. $19.95.)

Into the Clear Blue Sky by Eileen Tapper, illustrated by D. Ellery. The Northeast Kingdom author designed this picture book as a therapeutic tool for women who have experienced a miscarriage; she has founded a nonprofit to distribute it and research its effectiveness. (Reuben Books, 29 pages.)

The Magical Path: Conscious Dreaming Exercises for Healing & Growth by Wendy S. Halley. The Northfield psychotherapist offers exercises for shamanic healing. (Lucid Path Healing Arts, 91 pages with audio CD. $19.95.)

Revelation: Judge This! by Larkin Forney. The Milton author tells the story of his life as the survivor of a childhood traumatic brain injury, and includes many of his poems. (Xlibris, 468 pages.)

Roots, Shoots and Wings by Bette Moffett. A “rural memoir” of growing up in the Midwest by the Brandon author, who was born in 1924, told in a series of lyrical vignettes. (Shires Press, 110 pages.)

What the Abenaki Say About Dogs ... and Other Poems and Stories of Lake Champlain by Dan Close. To find out, you may need to read this slim collection of lore indigenous to the Lake Between, collected by an Underhill writer. (The Tamarac Press, 53 pages. $10.)

Why Islam Is Greater Than Your Religion in Philosophy: A Work in American Pragmatism by Nick Ruderman. With this provocative title, the former Burlington Anti-War Coalition member introduces his argument in favor of using the tradition of philosophical pragmatism to counter American politicians’ calls to war. (Ruderman Publishers, 349 pages. $20.)

Yabanci: An American Teacher in Turkey, 1976-1978 by Dave Donohue. Using diary entries, the South Burlington writer recreates his experiences teaching at a Turkish boys’ school. (Ra Press, 88 pages.)

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More by Margot Harrison

About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.


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