Friday, May 29, 2009

Andre Dubus speaking in Lexington

According to Wicked Local Lexington, Andre Dubus III will speak about The Garden of Last Days at Cary Memorial Library on Friday, June 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. Call 781-862-6288 Ext. 324 or e-mail to reserve a seat.

Newsweek has an excerpt from the book.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whittier's "In School Days" reading

From the Eagle-Tribune:

HAVERHILL — The most romantic poem by John Greenleaf Whittier will be recited by a complete school class tomorrow at 10 a.m. in a cemetery over a grave.

The poem, "In School Days," tells of a spelling bee in which a girl outspells the boy she loves and tells him about her feelings at the end of the day.

The fifth-grade class of teacher Renee Murphy of Bradford Elementary School has memorized the poem and will recite it in unison in the Walnut Cemetery at the grave of Lydia Ayer, the neighbor girl accepted as the heroine of the poem, with Whittier as the boy.

In previous years the poem was recited at the grave on Valentine's Day, usually in cold weather. Augustus Reusch, who retired as a teacher at the Bradford school and is now curator at the birthplace, was instrumental in promoting the poem and assisting with the trip to the grave.

The public will be welcome at the recitation of the poem.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New England literary road trip

The blog North American Travel Examiner has mapped out an itinerary that connects major literary sites from Twain's Hartford to Frost's farm in Derry, NH. It hits only the highlights and biggest literary names, but looks like a great place to start planning a literary road trip on a long weekend.

View Literary New England road trip in a larger map

Friday, May 22, 2009

North Shore writers on film, sort of

I posted a while ago that ABC is adapting John Updike's Witches of Eastwick as a TV series.

Earlier this spring news was released that Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is being adapted into a teen comedy called Easy A starring Emma Stone as a
high school student who pretends to be the school slut, hoping to benefit from the publicity. Which is sort of, but actually not really at all, like the ordeal endured by Hawthorne’s heroine, Nester Prynne. (Empire Movie News; Nester is their typo, or maybe the artistic license of the screenwriters?)
Sounds terrible, but other literary classics have inspired a few good movies in that genre, if you're the kind of person who thinks any teen movie could be good. Clueless drew on Austen's Emma, Ten Things I Hate about You was a re-working of Taming of the Shrew, and She's All That was based on Pygmalion. So who knows? Easy A is shooting now.

This morning I caught a story about summer movies, and one called Fireflies in the Garden starring Julia Roberts and Willem Dafoe, named after the Robert Frost poem. Some articles describe the movie, about a dysfunctional family dealing with unexpected tragedy, as being based on or an adaptation of the poem. The Internet Movie Database even gives Frost a writing credit. Here's the 1928 poem in its entirety.
Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.
Hard to hang a 2-hour film on that, but it's an evocative jumping-off point. Fireflies in the Garden is scheduled to be released in the U.S. on June 26.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Andover Bookstore tonight and a review in the Gloucester Daily Times

Last night's talk at Cornerstone in Salem went well—thanks to everyone who came out. Lots of good questions and ideas to add to my "updates for the next edition" list.

Tonight I'll be at the Andover Bookstore at 7 pm. I'm brushing up on my dates and timeline for Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Elizabeth Stuart Phelpses, all of whom lived within walking distance of where the bookshop is now.

And, there's also a review in today's Gloucester Daily Times. It points out that I overlooked T. S. Eliot, who spent summers in Gloucester and wrote about it in his Four Quartets. I've been meaning to write a post about Eliot and a few other "missed" authors here. He, like Sylvia Plath, spent time on the North Shore and included some landmarks in their work. (In The Bell Jar, Esther swims out to Lynn's Egg Rock in one scene.)

I have no bulletproof logic for why someone like Lydia Pinkham—a patent medicine marketer—made it into the book and some of our country's most prominent poets didn't; just that I was looking for more of the lesser known, people who deserve to be rediscovered, people for whom buildings and streets are named but whose contributions are forgotten, and quite simply, stories that piqued my interest.

There's a lot that can be added to my literary trail, and the more I dig into the each of these authors and their towns the more little tidbits I uncover. If only books didn't have drop-dead printing dates!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tomorrow: Cornerstone Books in Salem

See you in Salem tomorrow? Details here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rebecca and Ed Emberley

School Library Journal has a cute interview with father-and-daughter illustrators and children's book authors Ed (an Ipswich native) and Rebecca Emberley (now living in Maine) about their latest book, and first collaboration, Chicken Little.