Month: June 2013

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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!

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Alice Mattison’s North Peak

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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.

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imageAUDIO EXTRA! Enjoy hearing former Maine resident Erika Marks read an excerpt from her latest novel, The Guest House, which is set in a fictional seaside Cape Cod community. You can also listen to our entire interview with Erika (as well as the other GREAT guests we had on the June 10 show) in the Literary New England Radio Show Archives. Because we love Erika so much, we’ll also be conducting a live Tweet chat with her from 8-9 pm July 10 AND giving away copies of The Guest House. Hope to see you there!

 


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A sneak peek of tonight’s Literary New England Radio Show … author Kate Southwood reading the prologue of her novel Falling to Earth. Tune in at 8 p.m. to hear our delightful interview with Kate and our other guests, as well as for some great book giveaways! In addition to Kate and Falling to Earth, authors we’ll talk with and books we’ll give away include: – Nathaniel Philbrick on Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution – Jennifer Finney Boylan on Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders – Erika Marks on The Guest House 

Pulitzer fiction winners with New England ties

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Nine of the 12 authors awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction since 2000 have ties to New England. (No award was given in 2012.) They include:

2010 – Tinkers by Paul Harding, a Massachusetts resident who earned his bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and has taught writing at Harvard. Tinkers is also based in Massachusetts.

2009 – Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, a Maine native who also spent time growing up New Hampshire. The 13 short stories in Olive Kitteridge are set in Maine.

2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz,  a writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and fiction editor at Boston Review.

2007The Road by Cormac McCarthy, who was born in Providence, RI.

2006 – March by Geraldine Brooks, who lives on Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. March tells the story of the absent father from Louisa May Alcott’s beloved Massachusetts-based classic Little Women as he fights in the Civil War.

2005 – Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, who received her bachelor’s degree from Pembroke College, the former women’s college at Brown University in Providence, RI, that closed in 1971.

2003 – Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, who like Robinson earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown.

2002- Empire Falls by Richard Russo, a Maine resident who set Empire Falls in a small, fictional blue-collar Maine town.

2000 – Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, who grew up in Kingston, RI, received several degrees from Boston University and has taught creative writing at both Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Her protagonist in “The Third and Final Continent,” the final story in Interpreter of Maladies, is based on her father, a librarian at the University of Rhode Island.

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Once I started researching, I quickly realized that the truth about what happened to the inhabitants of Boston during the two and a half years between the Boston Tea Party in December 1773 and the evacuation of the British troops in March 1776 was much more complex, disturbing, inspiring, and just plain interesting than I could have ever imagined.

Author Nathaniel Philbrick on Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution. Hear our interview with him – and win a copy of Bunker Hill – on the June 10 Literary New England Radio Show

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The power of love, friendship, family and the Sept. 21, 1938 hurricane a once-in-a-hundred-years-storm that caught the East Coast totally unaware serve as the backdrop of Beatriz Williams’ new novel, “A Hundred Summers.”

The Connecticut resident is one of the authors featured on the June 3 Literary New England Radio Show. We’ll also be live Tweeting with her from 8-9 pm Thursday, June 13 … So please mark your calendars and plan to join us, using the #LNEChat hashtag!

This 75-year-old video offers a look at the storm. In a short essay, Beatriz says this: By the morning of Sept. 21, only the diehards remained, and only the old salts noticed that the sky dawned as red as blood for the third morning in a row. The winds started picking up around lunchtime, but the forecast had suggested a blustery afternoon and no one was worried. Then the sky turned to ochre and the power lines began to shriek, and by ten minutes to four o’clock, a storm surge of around 20 feet hit Rhode Island in a wall of sudden water. Winds gusts of 186 miles per hour were recorded at the Blue Hill Observatory in Massachusetts. A Boston mother [who spent the morning picking peaches with her children] made it home just in time. Her daughter, then six, always remembered the way the scent of peaches hung about the house for weeks afterward, until the electricity was restored and the fruit could be safely cooked and made into preserves for the winter.