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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views


September 04, 2013

Self-Published Book of the Week: Encounter With Japan: An Adventure in Love

Photo(1)So in case you didn't already know, it is now relatively cheap and simple to publish your own book. Here at Seven Days, we receive the fruits of that tech shift: self-published books from fellow Vermonters. Lots and lots and lots. Indeed, each year we receive more.

Do we review them in our pages? Rarely; it takes a very special book to sway us. But we'd like to recognize more writers' efforts, and we think local readers might be curious about what their neighbors are self-publishing. This blog feature may also showcase books from small or academic publishers that we can't cover in the paper.

Before submitting your own book, please see the lengthy disclaimer below!

The Book: Encounter With Japan: An Adventure in Love by Adelaide E. Katz, PhD, and Susan Katz Saitoh. Paperback, 164 pages with full-color illustrations. $20.

What's It About?

How many people have sat at a dying loved one's bedside and wished they could tell the world that person's story? Susan Katz Saitoh does that with this book. Actually, she leaves most of the actual telling to her late mother, Adelaide Katz, a fine writer who left behind journals, poems and more.

Continue reading "Self-Published Book of the Week: Encounter With Japan: An Adventure in Love" »

August 08, 2013

Speaking Volumes Changing Hands

Norbert Ender
Norbert Ender, file photo, circa 2007

Well folks, the rumors are true. Actually, that's not much of a surprise given that the subject of said rumors was the first to whisper them. But still. Speaking Volumes, the eclectic secondhand book and record store (and occasional live music/party hot spot) on Pine Street in Burlington, is changing hands.

Speaking by phone, outgoing shop owner Norbert Ender says it was simply time for a change.

"I've established myself rather solidly here, but I'm ready to move on," says the Austrian native who opened the store in 2007. Ender, 50, adds that in the immediate future he plans to travel, but will keep his apartment in Burlington as a home base.

As for the shop itself, new owner Alan Cosabic suggests the store's business model will remain pretty much the same for the time being.

"We're not planning to change things up too much," he says in a recent phone call.  

Continue reading "Speaking Volumes Changing Hands" »

August 05, 2013

Robert Resnik Signs Legendary Locals of Burlington

6a00d83451b91969e201901e2d81e9970b-320wiRecently Seven Days intern Meredith White wrote about Legendary Locals of Burlington, a book penned by local writer and musician Robert Resnik. He's also a Fletcher Free Library reference librarian and host of Vermont Public Radio's show "All the Traditions," two positions that utilize Resnik's gift for collecting arcane history.

So did writing Legendary Locals — the Burlington installment in Arcadia Publishing's series on American towns — which features short segments on dozens of individuals, both historic and current, who have made an impression in the Queen City's history. It's a subjective take, to be sure, but a fascinating walk through the city's history, particularly of the past few decades. Longtime residents will recognize plenty of faces, and be reminded of many more who have passed on.

Tonight at 7 p.m., Resnik will sign copies of his book at the Fletcher Free's Main Reading Room. He'll also appear up the street next Monday, August 12, 7 p.m., at Phoenix Books Burlington; and Saturday, September 7, 3-5 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in South Burlington. 

July 26, 2013

Photographer Peter Miller Roasts a Pig to Celebrate His New Book — And You're Invited

Fred Tuttle by Peter Miller

Peter Miller has much to celebrate this weekend. The 78-year-old photographer, known for his searing black-and-white portraits of Vermonters, recently published a gorgeous book called A Lifetime of Vermont People. But the process was a long haul.

"It was more than a slow boat," Miller writes on his blog. "The printer had to reprint the edition because of a singular mistake (their mistake and they made good on it). I missed signings, lost sales, came close to losing the shallow grip I have on this world."

A year and a half since Miller began writing the book, it was finally released on July 15. "It all ends," he writes, "with a pig roast at my home in Colbyville on July 27th."

That's tomorrow, at 2 p.m., two houses south of the Ben & Jerry's factory on Route 100. The whole pig, Miller says, will be ready for eating at 4 p.m.

If you've preordered a copy of the book, or if you buy one at the roast — Miller is offering them at a 10-percent discount — that's your ticket to the event. 

And just for fun, Miller and his assistant, Kyle Green, will be wearing pig masks.

For more information, visit

July 09, 2013

What's in a Name? You Say Winooski, I Say Onion


Name-tag-winooskiThe first installment in this series suggested that the settlement south of the mouth of the Winooski River came to be called "Burlington" because of a clerical error.

This week, we're tracing the origins of that river's name. And this etymological investigation appears to lead to a marketing ploy by 18th-century real estate speculators.

"The river's name has caused more dispute than any other place name in Vermont," historian Esther Munroe Swift wrote in her 1977 book, Vermont Place Names. Disagreements begin with how to render into English the Algonquin (or Abenaki) word for the 95-mile-long river that rises in Cabot and empties into Lake Champlain.

To Swift, it's "Winooskitook" — which, she tells us, should be pronounced "Weenooskee." Frederick Wiseman, an Abenaki scholar, transliterates the name as "Winosik" in an essay included in The Mills at Winooski Falls, edited by Laura Krawitt. And local historian Vincent Feeney goes with "Winoskitegw" in his 2002 book, The Great Falls on the Onion River: A History of Winooski, Vermont.

These and other historians do agree — more or less — on the English definition of the Abenaki word. Its root means "onion" or "leek," they all say, noting that the tangy bulb once flourished in wild profusion along the river's banks.

Continue reading "What's in a Name? You Say Winooski, I Say Onion" »

July 08, 2013

The Read on 'Legendary Locals of Burlington'

Legendary-locals-1Fitting Burlington into a book is no easy task. The eccentric gamut of its residents included in Robert J. Resnik’s recently released Legendary Locals of Burlington leaves you with a sense of just why that may be.

Forty years as a Burlington resident and 13 as a reference librarian at the Fletcher Free Library qualify Resnik for this job, for the story of Burlington is catalogued in its people. (Full disclosure: He is an occasional contributor to Seven Days.)

Arcadia Publishing approached Resnik to write the Burlington installment in its Legendary Locals series.

"You get these emails that say, 'Congratulations, you have been selected for the jerks of New England. Write the book and you'll receive your $25 check in the mail,'" Resnik quipped in a phone call.

But that email lingered in his inbox until he decided to take on the challenge of writing short-and-sweet stories about nearly 100 Queen City residents, past and present, who have some claim to fame. More than 200 photographs help tell their tales.

"It's amazing how I got a real sense of responsibility," Resnik said. "What can you do in 120 pages of pictures and captions? There's no way you can touch all the bases."

As a self-professed foodie and music nut, Resnik resisted the urge to weight the book too heavily toward his personal interests. Instead, he divvied up Burlington's "legends" into seven chapters and included an introduction detailing Burlington's origins as a township, granted on June 7, 1763. A century later, the lucrative trading post founded by Ethan and Ira Allen evolved into the city of Burlington. And the rest is history, literally. Legendary Locals brings us up to entries as recent as Dave and Jenny Rooke, who began home-brewing all-natural Rookie's Root Beer in 2005.

"With every entry I had to ask, 'Has this person really done something to make Burlington what it is today?'" said Resnik, explaining the challenge of winnowing down the multitude of eligible candidates.

Continue reading "The Read on 'Legendary Locals of Burlington'" »

June 27, 2013

Dog Mountain Staff Look to the Future, Plan Labor of Love Party

Getting petted donateSince Gwendolyn Huneck took her life early this month, people keep asking how they can help at Dog Mountain, says creative director Amanda McDermott. She and recently appointed general manager Jill Brown are two of the three full-time employees left to carry on at the Stephen Huneck Gallery in St. Johnsbury — that is, along with the long-distance consultation of Gwen's brother, Jon Ide, in Wisconsin. Stephen committed suicide in January 2010.

The double tragedy is not only devastating to friends and family; it puts the entire enterprise at Dog Mountain — the gallery filled with Stephen's canine-centric artwork and books, and the beloved Dog Chapel he constructed nearby — in jeopardy.

But, according to a statement on the gallery's website and e-newsletters, the staff and Ide are "absolutely determined to make it through this period and set things on a course to make Dog Mountain Stable and sustainable in a way that would make Stephen and Gwen very, very proud."

McDermott confirms that the very small staff is exploring ways to keep the place going, including "looking into" becoming a nonprofit, which would allow them to seek donations and grants. But it isn't there yet, and so instead they've come up with another way to solicit help: a Labor of Love work party.

The weekend-long event begins Friday afternoon, July 12, and concludes Sunday afternoon, July 14. McDermott says there are a number of needed maintenance-type chores for people who want to "roll up their sleeves" and help Dog Mountain, such as painting, fence repair, landscaping and cleaning. Visitors can also rent a campsite for the weekend, but need to reserve one in advance. There's a volunteer sign-up page here.

"We're trying to bring Dog Mountain back to its original glory," McDermott says.

Continue reading "Dog Mountain Staff Look to the Future, Plan Labor of Love Party" »

Photographer Peter Miller Talks About His New Book, A Lifetime of Vermont People


Waterbury-based photographer Peter Miller, who prefers to say his residence is in Colbyville, has published a lot of images we like to call "iconic." And that's because they are. In his previous books Vermont People and Vermont Farm Women, we can see older Vermonters, primarily living close to the land, and recognize that the photos document a passing way of life — and yet it's one that continues to resonate in the still largely agrarian Green Mountain State.

Maybe it's the "new" agricultural consciousness in Vermont that keeps the interest in Miller's images alive. Maybe it's just that he wanted to repackage previously published photographs with others never before seen. Either way, Miller's new A Lifetime of Vermont People — released on his own Silver Print Press — is a handsome, 9-by-12-inch coffee-table volume.

The photo on its cover is a head shot of Carroll Shatney, a Scottish Highlander breeder in Greensboro Bend. It was taken in 1993, when Shatney was 98. His grizzled, time-worn face is offset by a jaunty cap that says "Fun!" and appears to be a souvenir of the Champlain Valley Fair.

Shatney died in 2009. His son, Ray, and wife continue to sell Highland beef to individual customers, restaurants and stores, according to A Lifetime of Vermont People. And that's one of the lovely things about the book: that Miller provides updates about many of the people in his photographs. It illustrates not only how much research he has done, but also how much he cares about the folks he's captured on film.

Continue reading "Photographer Peter Miller Talks About His New Book, A Lifetime of Vermont People" »

June 26, 2013

A Conversation With Richard Russo

Richard Russo © Elena SeibertEditor's note: This week in "State of the Arts," Keenan Walsh previewed a series of author readings starting on Sunday, June 30, at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Read more here.

The series' headliner — who'll speak at VCFA on July 2 — is novelist Richard Russo. Even if you haven't read his work, you may know it as the source of two memorable showcases for the older Paul Newman: Nobody's Fool and the miniseries Empire Falls.

The author's latest work is a memoir. He has plenty to say about characters who surprise their authors, making a story up as you go, and his in-progress sequel to Nobody's Fool. Here's Walsh's complete conversation with Russo, not all of which we had room to print.

SEVEN DAYS: I wanted to start by talking about your most recent work — your memoir, Elsewhere. In your short story "The Whore’s Child," Sister Ursula is writing a memoir-type piece in a fiction-writing class. To be vague for those who haven’t read the story (but should), I'll just say that she discovers there’s a fine line between fact and fiction; that sometimes we create fiction in our own retelling of the “facts.” In writing Elsewhere, which was your first memoir…

RICHARD RUSSO: And last! [Laughs.]

SD: [Laughs.] Was there a similarly surprising process of discovery for you as you wrote Elsewhere? Did you realize things that you wouldn’t have otherwise, had you not written it?

RR: I’m so happy that you picked up on that parallel, because my experience in writing this memoir was not unlike Sister Ursula’s. She discovers, in telling the story — and having other people respond to her telling the story — that of course her memory is flawed, and she’s forced to confront something about her life that I think she may have known some part of in the back of her mind, but very deep in her own need to believe something else. And I discovered in writing Elsewhere, not that there was any great secret, so much as the fact that I just didn’t really understand, until writing this book, some aspects of the story of my own life, and the story of my mother’s life.

Continue reading "A Conversation With Richard Russo" »

June 20, 2013

The Authority on Outhouse Building Speaks in Vermont

Outhouse-344"The Authority" sounds like a moniker for a big, muscle-bound wrestler in the AWF, or maybe an underworld crime boss. But in fact it's the sort-of-tongue-in-cheek name chosen by George Papp Sr. both for himself and for the title of his self-published book ... on building outhouses.

Yes, Papp is an authority on historically accurate "thunder boxes," if he does say so himself. And so his website and book reveal. Papp, who lives in Colchester, Conn., is speaking tonight in Bristol on the subject, and no doubt will have copies of his book ready to autograph and sell.

And there is no more suitable place in Vermont — maybe on earth — than Bristol for an authority on outhouses to visit. Because what comes to mind when you think of Bristol on the Fourth of July? The outhouse race!

On a shed-building website I found courtesy of Mr. Google, Papp reveals that he started building outhouses and sheds because "daddy made me do it." By which he means his daughter — after purchasing a rural home in New Hampshire — told him she needed one:

If you have a daughter you certainly know what daddy means. Dad is one thing, daddy is another, and she used the daddy card when she asked. When she uttered that word, I was obligated. When I built that Kybo in my driveway, it attracted more folks than ants to sugar and brought in several requests, and it has grown to a satisfying pastime. 

Continue reading "The Authority on Outhouse Building Speaks in Vermont" »

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