Anyone who’s read Liza Klaussmann’s fantastic Tigers in Red Weather knows that cousins Nick and Helena looove their gin and tonics. Set on Martha’s Vineyard, the novel was just recently released in paperback. We’ll talk with Liza and give away copies of Tigers on the July 15 Literary New England Radio Show. To whet (or really wet!) your appetite, here’s Liza on how to make the perfect Vineyard gin and tonic. For those who’d love the chance to meet Liza face to face, she and Mary Simses, author of The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café, will be atLadies Who Launch – Southwest Connecticut on July 18 in Darien, Connecticut.

Book trailer for Massachusetts native Amor Towles’ new novella “Eve in Hollywood,” released today by Penguin. The story focuses on Evelyn Ross, one of the most  memorable characters in Amor’s best-selling novel “Rules of Civility.” Published as an ebook, “Eve in Hollywood”takes Eve (and readers!) into the heart of old Hollywood—to the elegant rooms of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the fabled tables of Antonio’s, the amusement parks on the Santa Monica piers, the afro-Cuban dance clubs off Central Avenue and, ultimately, to the set of Gone with the Wind. We had the pleasure of talking with Amor about Rules of Civility, which you can hear in the Literary New England Radio Show Archives.

Maine Aubade

Hear and feel the beauty of this poem–perfect for summertime–written by the incredibly talented Jonas Zdanys of Connecticut. Pure Lit New England!

MAINE AUBADE

1.

The simple lyrics of waves

and sea flowers stutter

like feathery tufts of light

through darkness brittle

as charred paper.  Loose shapes

of birds clip the water,

trolling the banks

of the Kennebunk, and slip

without sound through reeds

pared by the stitch of night.

On this narrow furrow

of shore wedged between

the river and sea, you touch

your fingers to my wrist,

in one cupped hand holding

the pale shells you gathered

to catch the light.  The grasses

creak and the moon casts

small circles on the river,

spiking white slivers of water

that hum with the cold

flat voice of the wind.

2.

The tuned gathering of mist

and clouds above water

that cannot hold the tympanic moon

shrouds the horizon like gray gauze.

Waves in the distance break

in a noiseless slide, lines

smoothed to sheets of dark green

oiled by dapples of light

from shore that flash

off the contours of watery foam

ruffled by a wind far out at sea.

Quickened tangles of birches

and scrub pines press forward

in half-relief toward sand

leached to blue shadows

by the curl of the coming tide.

Head down, you stare into the fire

as it reddens the stacked

driftwood and lights your hair,

flames fingering the leaves

of the trees that frame you and moving

like brittle chimes in the wind.

3.

The landscape is suddenly still

as the cramped angle and thin

crack of sky shift blue

along the bend in the river

and flatten to a wedge of yellow

that threads with the current

among the knobbed rocks,

sliding back upon itself

and retreating into shadows

bent as sticks in clear water.

In this place preserved from the sea,

under the worn fingers of trees

thinning to clouds and fog

above the river, you trace

the outline of the dead bird

lit by the moon in the sand,

wing feathers gray as stone,

hissing like the wind hollowed

at dead center, like sagging leaves

fluttering against the scrape of water,

like unmoored things drifting

aimless and shimmering to silence.

4.

The veiled flanks of the river

are flecked with primrose and laurel,

flowers gone to the hard mercy

of wind that skims shoals

thick and black with mussels.  The bristle

of water in eddies and pools

thickens an octave to a soft lament

trembling among rocks sour

with the sea’s smell curling

in the measured breeze from the east

that brings the first taste of dawn

to birds unwound on the shifting waves.

You stretch strands of eelgrass

across the rocks, arrange pieces

of driftwood softened by water

like a cradle or trap around the tide

pool at your feet, foraging in water

streaked by first light for signs

of life, face pressed against knees

that muffle a voice rising slowly

from your hollows like a small cry

lost between the sea and wind.

5.

Water spreads luminous and thin

across the pale blue bruise

of morning as it shifts to white

in the pulse of reeds ringed

by the crouch of night.  The play

of light bursts among the twisted vines

where the sea and river turn to land

and the sting of water hardens

to circles of dark birds strumming

the trees, the shape of something

fragile and small scattered to flight,

trickling through crevices of fog

in the clustered shallows

that mark the end of the season.

Forgotten like a seed cast

on dry sand, your face softens

to a weightless blur mitered

in the scrim of morning by bird song

that floats like mist across the inlet

where water brushes the sky

and touches us, transfigured by light

to counterpoints of silence and wind.

Who’s going to be on the June 17 show?

They use fiction to help understand today’s world, re-imagine yesterday’s world, and create a world that (as far as we know) has never existed. Join us tomorrow at 8 pm on the Literary New England Radio Show for insightful and inspiring conversations with:

  • Anthony Marra on A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
  • Amy Butler Greenfield on Chantress
  • Laura Andersen on The Boleyn King
  • Lionel Shriver on Big Brother

 Listeners will have the chance to win all four books!

 

Stowe’s connection to the spirits 

Author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe was born 202 years ago today on June 14, 1811. Although she is best known for her 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the affects it had on both slavery and anti-slavery supporters, she wrote more than 20 books, including novels, three travel memoirs and collections of articles and letters. Two of the houses she lived in are located in New England one in Brunswick, Maine, where she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and one in Hartford, Connecticut, where she lived for the last 23 years of her life. The Maine house (near Bowdoin College where her husband was a professor) is not open to the public. But the one in Hartford is. It’s located next door to the Mark Twain House & Museum and is a fascinating place where, among other things, visitors learn about Stowe’s deep interest and involvement in Spiritualism the belief that the spirits of the dead can (and want to!) communicate with the living. During her lifetime, many seances took place at Stowe’s house. Many people today say the house is haunted, as this video explains. Happy birthday, Harriet!

Alice Mattison’s North Peak

Although it’s called North Peak in The Book Borrower, East Rock Park in New Haven, CT, is the inspiration for, and real-life setting of, many scenes in Alice Mattison’s 2008, best-selling novel.  Main characters Toby Ruben and Deborah Laidlaw—young mothers who become close friends—meet at the park and take several walks there during their 20-odd years of friendship. The entire book, in fact, takes place in a city very much like New Haven, where Mattison lives. “In my mind it is New Haven,” Mattison says, “but I don’t say that in the book because I wanted to be able to alter the city as I needed to.” The Book Borrower was named a New York Times Notable Book.