The First 50 Pages | Live Culture | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

The First 50 Pages

Friday, September 11, 2015

The First 50 Pages: Juventud

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 1:19 PM

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In this monthly Live Culture feature, I review the first 50 pages of a local book — and sometimes, if I feel like it, more.

This month I decided to break my "local only" rule for the upcoming Burlington Book Festival (September 25 to 27) and introduce you to an author who will come to Vermont for the event. Vanessa Blakeslee is the author of Juventud, forthcoming in October from Curbside Splendor Publishing. This novel has a great subject: love, death and revolution in violence-ridden Colombia at the turn of the millennium. I couldn't resist a look inside.

The author
A Florida resident, Blakeslee does have a local connection: She earned her MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here's an interview with her in Green Mountains Review about her short-story collection, Train Shots. She's been the recipient of several fellowships and awards.

Blakeslee will appear at the BBF on Saturday, September 26, at noon, in the North Lounge of Billings Memorial Library at the University of Vermont.

The deal
It's 1999 in Santiago de Cali, Colombia. The Marxist guerrillas have been at war with the government for 40 years and, caught between the two, the civilian population bears the brunt of the conflict — "one- to two-million Colombians displaced from their villages by the bloodbaths."

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Friday, August 14, 2015

The First 50 Pages: You're Fine.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 2:52 PM

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In this monthly Live Culture feature, I review the first 50 pages of a local book — and sometimes more, if I feel like it.

Back in 2013, a Vice article called "The Brown Mountain State" introduced the world to Vermont's heroin problem. The much-read piece was authored by two Vermonters then living in NYC: Gina Tron and Hannah Palmer Egan.

The latter is now Seven Days' food writer; the former also returned to Vermont and writes for the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus as Gina Conn. Her memoir authored under her pen name, You're Fine., was published last fall by Brooklyn's Papercut Press and written up in Interview magazine.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

The First 50 Pages: The Remedy

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 3:00 PM

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In this monthly Live Culture feature, I review the first 50 pages of a local book — and sometimes, if I feel like it, more.

Summer's my favorite time to stay up late reading scary books. So I checked out The Remedy, a horror novel set in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom from Ludlow writer Asher Ellis (Full Fathom Five Digital, 259 pages. $3.99).

The author
Ellis holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine and teaches English at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire (here's his website). His publisher is the new digital imprint of Full Fathom Five, author James Frey's book packaging company, so the book is available only in e-formats.

The deal
The Remedy opens with two rednecks pounding beers at a desolate hunting camp. If you guessed a horrible fate will shortly befall them, horror is clearly your genre.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

The First 50 Pages: The Unexpected Trail

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 4:21 PM

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In this monthly Live Culture feature, I review the first 50 pages of a local book — and sometimes, if I feel like it, more.

This month, let's celebrate warm weather by going outdoors with Walt McLaughlin. His latest memoir from the hiking beat is The Unexpected Trail: Taking on the 100 Mile Wilderness (Wood Thrush Books, 172 pages, $13.95).

The author
McLaughlin lives in St. Albans and has been published in Vermont Life, Conservationist and other nature-focused periodicals. He's also written a series of longer reminiscences from the trail, most of them self-published under the Wood Thrush Books imprint. (Here's my 2011 write-up of his Alaska memoir.) Regional publisher North Country Books put out his Adirondack backcountry narrative The Allure of Deep Woods, which my outdoorsy mom assures me is worth picking up.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

The First 50 Pages: Up, Back, and Away

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 2:01 PM

click image Artist Juan Wijngaard did this gorgeous cover, which really helps differentiate the book from other self-published titles. - COURTESY OF KIM VELK
  • Courtesy of Kim Velk
  • Artist Juan Wijngaard did this gorgeous cover, which really helps differentiate the book from other self-published titles.
In this twice-monthly Live Culture feature, I review the first 50 pages of a local book — and sometimes, if I feel like it, more. Go to the first installment for a more involved explanation.

This week, the book is Up, Back, and Away, a young-adult time travel adventure by K. (Kim) Velk of Stowe. She self-published print ($14.99) and e-book ($4.99) editions starting in 2013. The e-book currently appears on three Amazon subcategory bestseller lists.

The author
Velk is an assistant attorney general for the state of Vermont who calls herself "a writer by nights, weekends, etc. since forever." She used to write for Albany's alt-weekly Metroland. And she's a knowledgeable Anglophile, as her book-themed blog demonstrates.

The deal
Fifteen-year-old Texan Miles McTavish is on a mission. He must make his way to the top of a Vermont peak lugging an antique Royal Sunbeam bicycle, find a steep trail that leads between two birches, and ride the aforementioned bike down that trail while clutching a magic stone. If he does all this, he'll be transported back to 1928 — England in 1928 — where he must aid a "girl born out of her time."

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Friday, May 8, 2015

The First 50 Pages: Stella Rose

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 2:49 PM

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In this new twice-monthly Live Culture feature, I review the first 50 pages of a local book — and sometimes, if I feel like it, more. Go to the first installment for a more involved explanation.

This week, the book is Stella Rose, a novel by Tammy Flanders Hetrick (She Writes Press, 343 pages, $16.95).

The author
Hetrick lives in Fairfield and works at Keurig Green Mountain. She has published short stories in venues including Vermont's Route 7 Literary Journal

The deal
In a gorgeous Vermont June, Abigail Solace St. Claire loses her best friend, Stella Rose, to leukemia. Both in their late thirties, the two had been inseparable since elementary school. Stella went on to marry, divorce and raise a daughter, while Abby stayed single and pursued a career in museum curation.

Now Abby must fulfill a death-bed promise to Stella: She'll move into her friend's house — which Stella willed to her — and serve as the guardian of Stella's daughter, Olivia, for her last year of high school.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

The First 50 Pages: The Literature Preferred by Wild Boar

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 4:20 PM

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Vermonters are writing like nobody's business. Every week, we at Seven Days receive at least one advance review copy or emailed request to review a local book — usually a self-published or micro-published one. Often we get more.

We can't review all those books in the paper. Not even all the good ones. Not even close.

But sometimes, if a book has potential, I dive in and read the first 50 pages. From those first 50 pages, you can learn a lot.

This new twice-monthly blog feature is a way to report on what I find. Because it's interesting to see what your neighbors are writing. And because sometimes a book that I don't choose to review may still be one you'd like to read.

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