It might be the water but I think it’s the Maine environment that fosters so many great writers. We’ve produced some of our nation’s best writers, and that has accelerated in the last few decades.
I’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of Maine books lately, and can report that Maine writers could keep you fully engaged during the long winter ahead.
I’ve actually got two shelves of books waiting to be read — something that drives Linda crazy, because that doesn’t discourage me from continuing to purchase books. Lately, I’ve tried to divert her attention by purchasing books for her, with only modest success.
If your reading shelf is not full, consider some of the following good reads.
Paul Fournier hooked me with his first sentence: “I was 15 that summer when first love struck.” His first love was a 17-foot-long Old Town canoe.
On the third page of Paul’s new book, “Tales from Misery Ridge,” (Islandport Press, 2011) he started to reel me in when he purchased his second canoe — at age 17 — from Leon Prince of North Monmouth.
Leon was my wife’s grandfather and when I read Paul’s words describing her grandfather to her, Lin said he had captured her twice-widowed grandfather exactly. Paul noted that Leon was “a small, genial, lonesome gentleman in oversize overalls. Contrary to the stereotype of taciturn rural Maine folk, he was downright garrulous.”
Lin says her grandfather was all of that, as well as an exceptional piano player. He even taught her to cook. And in our area of central Maine where Lin and I both grew up, Leon was famous for his canoes. My Dad even owned one. My very-understanding wife drove most of the way to Campbello, where we planned to spend the first weekend of October, so I could continue reading Paul’s book. It was that, or read while I drove!
I doubt that you will set this book aside after you begin reading. Fournier’s life experiences are many and varied, from sporting camp owner and guide to bush pilot to his 20-year stint as public information officer for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, from 1980 to 2000.
From rampaging bears to giant brook trout, bush flying to treks down the Allagash, this book moves along faster than our spring-flooded rivers. It’s a great ride.
If you like fiction and mysteries, you must already be a fan of Gerry Boyle, the editor of Colby’s alumni magazine, former reporter for the Morning Sentinel, and one of my favorite novelists. I have enjoyed every one of Gerry’s books and he’s getting better with each one.
His latest, Port City Black and White (Down East Books, 2011), was consumed in three sittings while the Red Sox went down in flames. The book was a great diversion. It’s really terrific.
In the last couple of years, I’ve taken an interest in the eat local foods movement. So, of course, I bought Linda a copy of “The Eat Local Cookbook” (Down East Books, 2011) by Lisa Turner.
Lisa, of Freeport’s Laughing Stock Farm, has written a book that makes cooking and eating Maine produced foods a whole lot easier. She tells you how to eat local, provides tips for vegetable storage, and even offers some gardening advice
And as Linda noted, Lisa “includes quick, simple recipes with a limited amount of ingredients, very creative food with easily obtainable ingredients.”
Perhaps Linda’s best comment was this: “These recipes are so simple that even George will have success with them.”
She added, “Get cooking George.”
And I have. When I am not reading, writing, traveling, hunting, and fishing, or course.
On the traveling front, I just finished former Gov. Angus King’s book, “Governor’s Travels: How I Left Politics, Learned to Back Up a Bus, and Found America” (Down East, 2011).
After his eight years as Governor, Angus, Mary, and their two children enjoyed a five-month cross-country adventure in an RV.
The book brought back so many great memories of our own trips. We started taking our children all over the country in a VW camper, then later in a 21-foot RV. One trip everyone had chicken pocks at some point in the trip, except me!
Eventually after the children got big and we bought our camp and weren’t using the RV at all, we sold it. I still miss it.
Angus’s adventures will entertain you, take you to some great places, and set you to yearning for the open road.
What more can you ask of a book?
George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.