Seven Days' writers can't possibly read, much less review, the number of books that arrive in a steady stream by post, email and, in one memorable case, a herd of wild horses. So this monthly feature, "Page 32," is our way of introducing you to five books by Vermont authors. To do that, we'll contextualize each book just a little, and quote a single representative sentence from, yes, page 32.
Inclusion here implies neither approval nor derision on our part, but simply: Here are a bunch of books, arranged alphabetically by authors' names, that Seven Days readers might like to know about.
Adirondack Archangels: Guardians of the High Peaks
Edited by Christine Bourjade and Alex Radmanovich, with a foreword by Bill McKibben, Adirondack Mountain Club, 304 pages. $24.95.
"There is an inner peace, an harmonic, to be gained in all wilderness experiences everywhere, but none exceed the intensity of contentment, of feeling at-home-at-last, as when quietly witnessing the grandeur of creation from atop a high Adirondack summit."
Our page 32 passage comes from the essay "The Four Rewards of Visiting Alpine Summits," by Edwin H. Ketchledge (1924-2010), to whom this hefty, photo-enhanced anthology pays tribute. A formidable climber with a passion for preserving summit ecosystems, Ketchledge initiated the creation of the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, which all proceeds from this book help fund. Other essays address the future of the Adirondack Park and the organizations striving to maintain it "forever wild." Writes Bill McKibben in a brief foreword, "This circle of responsibility has protected the Adirondacks for well more than a century now, and it's our job to keep it going."
The Dowser's Legacy: A Story of Friendship
David T. Kolok, the Cow Pie Press, 46 pages. $5.95.
"I found myself talking to the mountain, even calling out his name with the expectation of seeing something in the clouds next to the summit, but nothing happened."
Described as a fact-based fiction, this slim volume chronicles the friendship between its author and Bryan Hicks, his now-deceased neighbor in rural Colebrook, N.H. An old-timer who lived off the grid, Hicks taught city refugee David T. Kolok to chop wood, forecast the weather and dowse — or "witch for water," as he called it. The book pays tribute to this wise and colorful character, and the author's affection for him is evident on every page. While Kolok (who now lives in Essex Junction) has the book listed at retailers, he notes in an accompanying letter that he hopes to distribute it gratis as long as he can afford to print copies: "Anyone who wants a copy, I merely give them one."
The Flower Eater
M. LaRose, Archway Publishing, 46 pages. $5.95.
"In turn, each high-priestess spoke a line, their voices ringing out, one-by-one, from the darkness of the circular tower, in a downward spiral until the last of the eighteen had spoken."
In this romantic fantasy novel from Waitsfield author M. LaRose, a young woman preparing to enter a chaste order of priestesses finds herself tempted by the flesh of a well-built blacksmith. Her conflict isn't simply the classic one between love and duty — rather, she genuinely longs to master the power wielded by the order. The novel often has the pictorial languor of a Maxfield Parrish painting, which its dreamlike setting also evokes. But it takes unexpected and intriguing turns, as the heroine eventually finds herself "travel[ing] psychic avenues which are closed to other mortals."
Thesaurus of Separation
Tim Mayo, Phoenicia Publishing, 140 pages. $14.95.
"My suicide never came.
Back and forth in my head,
it roams like an ambulance
lost in the streets." (From "Talking to the Dead")
Tim Mayo is a mental health worker at the Brattleboro Retreat and a poet with a Bennington College MFA and a raft of publications to his name. This one, from Montréal-based Phoenicia Publishing, addresses subjects as diverse as "Working in Detox," and "Trapezing in God's Country." (In his spare time, Mayo studies at Brattleboro's New England Center for Circus Arts. "Now in my mid-sixties ... / ... I've taken up flying," he writes in the latter poem.) Throughout these poems, Mayo's deceptively simple diction combines with his talent for evocative phrasing to lure us into fleeting confrontations with decay, disappointment and loss. This is a book that challenges us to look beneath its own words, probing the silences they conceal. In "Words," Mayo writes of a child who learns to express himself only by sacrificing an imaginary friend who remains without speech: "There were no words for him, no stone, / no teething of noise with all its / attendant gnashing and attitudes."
Mehuron's Supermarket 75th Anniversary: A Hometown Independent Supermarket
Mary Kathleen Mehuron, self-published, 59 pages. $12, available at Mehuron's Supermarket in Waitsfield.
"Although I was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, I spent most of my grown life nearby in Lynn, a city of one hundred thousand people of many nationalities and races."
The above is a quote from Irene Weslik Mehuron, one of the matriarchs of Waitsfield's venerable supermarket. In the early 1950s, she came to the Vermont town to teach high school and soon married Allen Mehuron, whose father, Elmer, had opened the store in 1941. Authored by a member of the third generation to own and operate the market, this history traces the Mehuron family from Mayflower times to the present, showcasing color photos and lively anecdotes about the store's early days. In the 1940s, we learn, rural Vermonters greeted grocery deliveries with great excitement — even the cardboard boxes were a treat for the children, who used them to fashion "forts and space capsules."
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.