Known for the profundity of his down-to-earth characters and the power of his simple yet potent narration, Dubus is hailed a literary force of New England and a master of the short story form. For more praise about Dubus, click here.
A review of Gareth P. Jones' novel, Death or Ice Cream?
Caught in a deadly competition to earn an even deadlier job repairing circus cars on the move, a young Larkin Mills resident casually remarks, “This town is insane”— pretty much summing up Gareth P. Jones’s umpteenth novel, Death or Ice Cream?
Chronicling the morbid history of a seemingly innocent town, Death or Ice Cream? (published in 2016 by David R. Godine) follows several eccentric young locals, or, young locals caught in eccentric predicaments, with a charming irony and devilish sense of humor. For in Larkin Mills the daily norm—from memory erasure to corpse resurrection, shark weaponization to redistribution of health—is anything but mundane.
Just ask the willful young Park, who moves with her archaeologist father into a hotel/funeral parlor and must puzzle out the spooky powers of their most recently excavated treasure. Then there’s the mayor’s son Ivor, who discovers that he has a long-lost aunt. A murderous long-lost aunt Dulwhich who remembers nothing of allegedly killing her husband! (The only evidence of the entire affair seems to be Mr. Dulwhich’s Good as Death Certificate.) And preceding the present eccentrics of Larkin Mills are Larkin and Mills, the ancients whose eternal rivalry gave rise to the town and mystifies its citizens today.
With his matter-of-fact hilarity and delightful self-awareness, Jones presents an irresistible, Wonderland-esque surreality that questions both the fetishism and fear of death. In fact, Gareth has published several children’s books that revel in the morbid, such as fan favorite The Thornwaite Inheritance and its sequel, The Thornwaite Betrayal, that follow a pair of murderous twins who keep trying to kill each other. Explaining his perhaps controversial black-comedy approach to danger and death, Jones writes in his blog,
Donald Hall, American poet, writer, editor, critic, and teacher, passed away on June 23, 2018 at his family farmhouse in Wilmot, NH.
Hall’s poetry and prose focused on simple language to evoke complex universal themes. His work glows with the affection he held for the land, the people, and the customs of rural New England, and especially for the small New Hampshire dairy farm near Ragged Mountain he visited every summer as a child.
Hall published fifteen books of poetry along with multiple collections of essays, children’s books, and plays. He was widely accomplished, receiving two Guggenheim Fellowships and the Robert Frost Medal, and served as the fourteenth U.S. Poet Laureate from 2006-2007.
Four of Hall’s children’s books – Christmas at Eagle Pond, Lucy’s Christmas, Lucy’s Summer, and The Man Who Lived Alone – are published by Godine, along with two collections of his essays – String Too Short to be Saved and On Eagle Pond. His writing often calls to the desire for a simpler, gentler way of life, one he found rooted in the rhythms of his beloved farm at Eagle Pond.
He will be dearly missed by his friends at Godine.
To read the New York Times obituary for Hall, please follow this link.
To read the Boston Globe obituary, please follow here.
Z Space Theater set to produce a new play based on Berlin's stories
Happy Thursday Godine readers! This Throwback Thursday is courtesy of Bay Area author, Lucia Berlin. During her lifetime, Berlin published 77 short stories. These short stories were collected into three volumes and released through Black Sparrow Press: Homesick (1991), So Long (1993), and Where I Live Now (1999).
Now, Z Space Theater in San Francisco will be hosting a production of, “Stories by Lucia Berlin.” The production is brought to us by Word for Word– a San Francisco based theater company that takes literary works verbatim and transforms them into plays. Z Space is one of the nations’ leading theaters for the development and production of new works.
Berlin’s work frequently grapples with the horrors and unexpected lessons of dealing with alcoholism. But even though her work portrays bleak subjects, she manages to impart wisdom and her own brand of dark humor into each story. Berlin spent most of her career in obscurity until recently, when her work found success posthumously. Today, Berlin is praised for her scathing insight into American life.
“Lucia Berlin’s stories will be read, anthologized and celebrated in a way that they never were when the author was alive. Popular success can be fickle, and there is no trace of bitterness in these stories– only a brilliant mind grappling with the world around her.”
“Stories by Lucia Berlin,” which will run from February 14th to March 11th, depicts five pieces of Berlin’s work: Her First Detox, Emergency Room Notebook 1977, Unmanageable, 502, and Here It Is Saturday. Z Space writes about the play, “Wry, electric commentary on the dark corners, the everyday, and the oft-overlook. Set to an evocative jazz score, the harrowing stories feature complex women, balancing motherhood, relationships, and a working life.” The play will be directed by Nancy Shelby and JoAnne Winter.
Enter to win a copy of Death or Ice Cream by author Gareth P. Jones
Looking for the perfect book to curl up with this winter? Or a gripping read full of enough suspense and thrills to keep you tide over until next Halloween? Then be sure to enter into our Goodreads giveaway to win a free copy of Death or Ice Cream by Gareth P. Jones! The offer will be available on Goodreads starting at midnight on November 14th and ends on December 10th. We will be giving away a free copy of this title to five of our U.S. readers.
In thirteen interconnected short stories, Death or Ice Cream explores the odd, yet enticing town of Larkin Mills. In each story the reader will be introduced to sinister and elusive new characters. Slowly the story reveals that these characters are related in more ways than expected and peels back the shroud of mystery surrounding Larkin Mills. Throughout the book, readers will catch hints of influence from visual mastermind Tim Burton and from literary great Lewis Carroll.
Death or Ice Cream has been well-received by critics. Booklist writes, “A smart and morbidly funny novel ideal
for readers who cut their teeth on Roald Dahl.” Furthermore, Teachwire says, “Readers who are looking for a break from dystopian series will find this a stylish and compelling alternative; a standalone story that’s as thought-provoking as it is chillingly entertaining.” You can read the full review here.
Author Gareth P. Jones is a British children’s author of over twenty-five books. He has written on a wide variety of subjects including ninja meerkats, steampunk pirates, dragon detectives and dinosaur parties. And, most importantly in this case, Jones’ is a an avid supporter of salted caramel ice cream.
Death or Ice Cream’s chilling tales are the perfect companions for an equally chilly winter day. Click here to enter our giveaway. As always, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Join Wesley McNair as he reads from his new collection, The Unfastening at Merrill Library, Yarmouth, ME, at 7 pm! Read what The Boston Globe had to say about The Unfasteninghere.
Wesley McNair is the author of twenty books, including nine volumes of poetry, three books of nonfiction, and several edited anthologies. His most recent books are The Unfastening, The Lost Child: Ozark Poems, and Lovers of the Lost: New & Selected Poems (Godine, 2017, 2014, and 2010, respectively).
Godine author Donald Breckenridge will be reading from his new book, And Then (Godine, 2017) at the Spoonbill Studio in Brooklyn, NY on October 3rd from 7-8pm.
And Then is a ghost story, telling tales about the people that come and go from our lives and the indelible marks they leave. Opening with a vignette describing Jean Rouch’s short film Gare du Nord, Breckenridge sets a deeply unsentimental tone, both necessary to and greatly in opposition with his descriptions of his father’s slow and deliberate death. Interwoven are the stories of a young woman’s hopeful arrival in New York, a young man’s voyeuristic summer spent housesitting for his professor, and a soldier who never made it out of Vietnam. What they all have in common is a deep preoccupation with the way lives resonate and connect, an emotionally honest love story about how we relate to others and ourselves.
Donald Breckenridge lives in Brooklyn with his spouse, Johannah Rodgers. He is the Fiction Editor of The Brooklyn Rail, Co-Founder and Co-Editor of InTranslation, and the Managing Editor of Red Dust Books. He has written four novels, edited two fiction anthologies, and introduced the NYRB Classics edition of Henri Duchemin and His Shadows by Emmanuel Bove.
For more information about the reading series, including directions to the venue, look here.
A review of Godine title, The Screaming Chef, appeared in The New York Times on Friday. The Screaming Chef, written by Peter Ackerman and illustrated by Max Dalton, follows a young boy with a love for food, who will not stop screaming unless he is pacified by fine cuisine. Finally, tired of the noise, his parents abdicate their cooking responsibilities to him, and eventually, the boy’s talent is so great that they are prompted to open a restaurant with him as the head chef. When things start to go awry, the boy’s frustration grows: will his temper win, or the food?
In a stylish world of midcentury modern décor, a boy screams nonstop. His parents are out of ideas. Realizing he never shrieks when he eats, they cook him amazing food, but he grows huge. Soon he’s cooking himself and opens a fancy restaurant. The customers flock, but his frustration rises. The screaming starts again, until he adds singing to his repertoire. Ackerman and Dalton (“The Lonely Phone Booth”) have cooked up something witty and, as an example of the parental art of redirecting, perhaps inadvertently wise.
Peter Ackerman has made two books with Max Dalton. Their first book, The Lonely Phone Booth, was selected for the Smithsonian’s 2010 Notable Books for Children and adapted and produced as a musical at the Manhattan Children’s Theater. Peter co-wrote the movies Ice Age and Ice Age 3. Currently he is a writer on the TV showThe Americans,and his web-seriesThe Go Getters can be seen on www.thegogetters.net.
In honor of Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday earlier this month, and in honor of the lovely summer weather, we wanted to highlight some books that fit the season and carry on Thoreau’s legacy. Thoreau is well known for Walden, a book chronicling his year of living alone in nature, and of Cape Cod, a collection of his reflections on those beaches. In both, he uses his experiences in nature as a way of meditating on life’s big questions
Robert Finch follows in his footsteps, walking along miles of the Cape Cod shoreline. He has chronicled some of his rambles in Outlands: Journeys to the Outer Edges of Cape Cod. In this collection of essays, Finch writes of moments of isolation, even danger, as on one walk he finds himself miles from the nearest person but near some agitated harbor seals. Finch uses these moments to probe his, and our, responses to these moments in nature.
However, the best-known successor of Thoreau is Henry Beston, whose Herbs and the Earthand The Best of BestonGodine has had the honor of publishing. Beston is a meticulous observer who has written on a wide variety of places, including (of course) Cape Cod, but stretching to the St. Lawrence River and beyond.
Beston’s thoughtful nature writing is close to home in Herbs and the Earth, where he uses gardening as a way to focus his thoughts on what he grows and its deep roots in areas like history, religion, and medicine.
You can learn more about Beston, the man from Daniel G. Payne’s scrupulously researched and incredibly readable biography, Orion on the Dunes. Payne tracks Beston’s career and development, from his beginnings as Henry Sheahan, a World War I soldier who went on to write children’s stories, to the pioneering conservationist and iconic nature writer as we know him.
Happy birthday, Henry David Thoreau, and may your legacy live on!
The British film is coming to select US theaters on July 21
Last summer, author Arthur Ransome’s beloved children’s book, Swallows and Amazons, was released as a movie in the United Kingdom, and this summer, it’s coming to select theaters in the United States on July 21st. The film will also be available on Starz beginning in October.
Ransome wrote Swallows and Amazons in 1930, and it was a hit, with its innocence, joy in the pleasures of sailing, and above all, the Walker children’s sense of adventure. The book was so popular that Ransome went on to write eleven more, creating a series that is just as beloved today.
Swallows and Amazons follows the four Walker children: Susan, Roger, John, and Titty (whose name has been changed to Tatty in the film, sparking controversy). They visit England’s Lake District for the summer and sail to a small island in a dinghy named Swallow. The siblings love sailing so much they take the boat’s name for themselves, and they claim the island as theirs. However, they have one problem: they’ve been beaten by Peggy and Nancy Blackett, copilots of their own dinghy called Amazon, so the children battle it out for control of the island.
Samuel Goldwyn Films, along with Orion Pictures, have the North American rights to the Swallows and Amazons film. Peter Goldwyn, Goldwyn’s president, said “I believe it’s important to bring a good family film to the market, and that’s what I found in Swallows and Amazons… The film has a talented cast, and I know this will be a classic like the original book.”
Goldwyn is certainly right about the cast; it features actors such as Andrew Scott, best known for his role as Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, and Kelly MacDonald, who starred as Margaret Thompson in Boardwalk Empire and was the voice of Merida in Brave.
Goldwyn’s also right about the movie being a classic. In the United Kingdom, critics loved it. The Telegraph said “there’s a period-appropriate honesty to it…that sets it apart from any other family film you’ll see this summer.” Variety calls it a “very charming…entirely respectable adventure.” We think you’ll like it, too.
Show us your illustrated adventures and be entered win a copy of Damon Lehrer's ROCKET BOY!
In Rocket Boy, one young boy’s dreams come to life the moment he puts his pencil to paper. Rocket ships, race cars, and safari animals are just a few of the wonders he sees before he comes safely home to bed, left only with drawings to remember his adventures.
At Godine, we all know and love the illustrations Rocket Boy‘s protagonist brings to life, but now we want to see what you dream about!
Submit a one-page, black and white drawing of your most wonderful dreams. Are you soaring through the stars? Deep diving with beautiful sea creatures? Building a wild new invention?
Send your submission (and any questions) to email@example.com with the subject line “Rocket Boy Contest,” or to our office at 15 Court Square Suite 320, Boston, MA 02215 by June 30th, 2017 to be entered into our contest. One entrant over 15 and one entrant under 15 will win a copy of Damon Lehrer’s Rocket Boy. Please include your name, the title of the drawing, and whether you will be entering the adult contest or the children’s contest with your submission.
The contest will be judged by Damon Lehrer himself along with a member of Godine publishing staff, and the winner(s) will be announced on July 21st. Good luck, and get drawing!
Ways to Observe & Connect with Jane Jacobs and Your Community
From movie releases to Girl Scout Patches to Jane Jacobs Walks, here are some brilliant opportunities to connect with Jane Jacobs and the Boston community.
This week, we are lucky to revisit an award-winning title in the Godine office—Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of the Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Written by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch, this book tells the story of Jane Jacobs and her fight for the American city during “an era when the ‘urban renewal’ movement and its bulldozers were most aggressive.”
Now, five years after the publication of Genius of Common Sense, Altimeter Films is releasing Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a documentary centered around Jane Jacob’s life and her 1960 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Using Jacobs’ activism, Citizen Jane “sets out to examine the city of today through the lens of one of its greatest champions.” This new look at Jane Jacobs’ life is sure to be an engaging look at a still relevant issue.
Opening today, April 21st, the film is available both on-demand and in theatrical showings. Tickets are available for tonight’s screenings in New York, as well as upcoming events in other cities. For show times and more information, please visit the Altimeter Films website.
However, this isn’t the only exciting news for fans of Genius of Common Sense. Recently, The Center for the Living City has partnered with a Jane Jacobs Fellow to bring “new role models and new narratives to help [girls and young women] navigate through inequalities and push for creative expression” through the works of Wangaari Mathai, Malala Yousafzai, and who other than Jane Jacobs herself.
One aspect of this partnership is engaging with the Girls Scouts of America, who ran a successful pilot project centered around Genius of Common Sense in the spring of 2016.
Following their pilot, Girl Scouts of America has implemented the Observe! Patch Program, with the main goal of “developing civically engaged voices of young women that lead to local and global action in the places they care about.”
The first step in this Patch Program, labeled “Discover” invites girl scouts of all ages to interact with Genius of Common Sense through reading the full or partial text, consulting the City Builder Book Club Reading Guide, and discussing what it means to use your own “genius of common sense!”
Later, in the “Take Action” stage, girl scouts are encouraged to lead their own Jane Jacobs Walks.
Started in Toronto in 2007, Jane Jacobs Walks aim to honor Jacobs’ legacy through community engagement, now bringing “the power of observation to a diversity of neighborhoods in cities throughout the world.”
Luckily for those in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville are two such cities.
The Dense Layers of History in “Old Cambridge” will take place on May 6th, starting 10:30am. Participants should meet at the Out of Town News kiosk outside the Harvard Square T Station. This Jane Jacobs Walk is organized by Genius of Common Sense author Glenna Lang, so be sure not to miss this celebration of the 101st anniversary of Jane Jacobs’ birth!