One of the things I like best about belonging to a book group is reading books that ordinarily I wouldn’t pluck off the shelf. My book group at the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association just gathered to discuss “Captains Courageous” by Rudyard Kipling. I wish I had read this years ago, when I was involved in the “Fish tales” exhibit at the Long Island Historical Society, as it gives great information about the late 19th century methods of fishing off the Grand Banks, in the form of a rollicking good tale. Who can ever forget Kipling’s description of Harvey, the main character, seeing all the fishing schooners lined up on the banks? This classic coming of age story, written in 1897, also includes what is called “a classic of railway literature” – a journey by rail from San Diego to Boston.
The Long Island Community Library has this wonderful tale, both in audio and print form. Be sure to check it out – it will impress you with its authentic voice and descriptions.
There seems to be a spate of Maine literature regarding game wardens these days. Most recently is John Ford’s “Suddenly, the cider didn’t taste so good” (2012) which relates tales of 20 years of a game warden’s career. Of the fiction genre, Paul Doiron’s “The Poacher’s son” (2010) and later “Trespasser” (2011) feature a game warden as protagonist. Kate Braestrup’s “Here if you need me” (2007) shines with wit and humor but with underlying depth of seriousness about the chaplain’s life in working with game wardens and the families of victims who need their services. But despite all these recent additions to the game warden offerings, this is not a new idea to write about. There are many other books about Maine game wardens. Some of my favorites were written by Maine women writers, such as Helen Hamlin and Louise Dickinson Rich, in the 1940s – both women were married to game wardens, who took them into the wilds of Maine to live. We are fortunate in Maine to have about 75 years of Maine literature that takes us “into the woods.”
WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN: A Literary Barn Raising for Maine Author Cynthia Thayer will be held at Longfellow Books on Friday, June 1 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. There will be a gaggle of well-known authors on hand to sign their books and Longfellow Books will donate 100% of all proceeds above cost to Cynthia and Darthia Farm. Here are just some of the authors who will be with us for this special First Friday event: Liza Bakewell, Crash Barry, Brock Clarke, Melissa Coleman, Ron Currie Jr, Phillip Hoose, Shonna Milliken Humphrey, Maria Padian, Elizabeth Peavey, Caitlin Shetterly, Betsy Sholl, Monica Wood, and Colin Woodard.
This is a fundraiser for Maine author Cynthia Thayer, whose home, Darthia Farm in Gouldsboro, suffered a horrendous fire this past week destroying the entire barn, killing nearly 100 animals and burning Cynthia as she tried to rescue her sheep. Readers know Cynthia as the author of Strong for Potatoes, A Certain Slant of Light, and A Brief Lunacy but she is also a dedicated farmer and Darthia Farm is the life and livelihood of the Thayer family. Darthia Farm is a MOFGA member farm with a community supported agriculture (CSA) program and a busy farm store.
Next time you visit the library I suggest you check out the used books table. You can sometimes find some gems there. For example, on a recent visit I bought a copy of Admiral Richard Byrd’s Little America for a dollar. Published in 1930, it was a first edition and signed by the author!