The Bennington Bookshop   September 2016

Vermont's oldest independent bookstore

September: it was the most beautiful of words, he’d always felt, evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regret.
Alexander Theroux  

Welcome to the September edition of The Bennington Bookshop Newsletter! This edition features an interview with Ruth Franklin, author of the soon-to-be-published biography of Shirley Jackson. There are a couple of sneak previews, as well as a review of Leave Me by Gayle Forman. We have a student review from Deanna Oakes. Congratulations, Deanna. Deanna has also published a book, which we have in The Bookshop. We will feature Deanna's book in our October newsletter. We have two big events in October, so be sure to check out the Coming up... section. As always, just before sending out the newsletter, I update the mailing list from our guest book. Jessie, from Durango, had written:
"Thank you for being here!"
Thanks, Jessie. And thank you all for your continued support of The Bennington Bookshop - your local independent bookstore.
In her own words: Ruth Franklin
Author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life 

2016 is the centennial of the birth of local author Shirley Jackson, and to mark the occasion, W.W. Norton is publishing a new biography of Jackson by literary critic Ruth Franklin. Here, we share Ruth's answers to some questions we asked her.

Why Shirley Jackson?
In 2010, the Library of America brought out a new anthology of Jackson’s writing, which I wrote about for The New Republic. That collection made me realize not only how great her range was but how much of her work centered around her domestic life: the claustrophobia of marriage and motherhood and the struggle to carve out space for herself as a writer, subjects that resonated deeply with me. As I started poking around, I discovered there was a fair amount of archival material that hadn’t been available to Jackson’s first biographer. Naturally, that was irresistible.
What was the most interesting thing you discovered while researching the book?
 A few years ago, I came across several folders of letters in Jackson’s archive from an unknown woman. It turned out that she had been Jackson’s pen pal – a confidante and sounding board – during a particularly crucial year and a half in Jackson’s life: while she was working on We Have Always Lived in the Castle, her final completed novel. This woman’s daughter and I eventually found Jackson’s side of the correspondence tucked away in a barn – some sixty pages of never-before-seen letters. It was a biographer’s dream come true.
Which is your favorite of her stories? What is it you like particularly about that story?
 It’s hard to say, but if I did choose one, it might be “A Visit,” which was also published under the title “The Lovely House.” It’s so mysterious and uncanny that to paraphrase it ruins the effect, but put simply, it’s about a girl who visits a friend’s country mansion and falls in love with another visitor there, who isn’t quite what he seems to be. It’s one of her most subtle and hauntingly beautiful works.
A Rather Haunted Life” – how did you come up with that title?
 Jackson’s first publisher, Roger Straus of Farrar, Straus, once called her “a rather haunted woman.” To my mind this is a very apt description. She was, indeed, “rather haunted” by all kinds of things, from her own imaginings of ghosts and witchcraft to personal demons of agoraphobia and mental turmoil. But her character also had many other dimensions that have often been overlooked. She was “rather haunted,” but not completely so.
What was the most difficult thing about writing this biography?
 Keeping track of everything. Jackson’s archive alone contains more than fifty boxes of papers. I also had notes on the archive of her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman; documents and letters found elsewhere; secondary sources; and many interviews. It was very challenging to synthesize all this material and keep everything organized.
What’s your next project?
Ask me in October!

Note: Ruth's book will be released on September 27th. You can pre-order a copy here: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

The Bookshop will be holding an event with Ruth Franklin at the Carriage Barn at Park-McCullough House in North Bennington, on October 30th, starting at 6.30pm. Ruth will read from her book, answer questions and sign copies. There will be live music, refreshments and a cash bar. This event is free.
Bookshop Blues
"I'm looking for a book..."

"I'm looking for a book... I'm not sure what it's called, but it had a pink cover."


"A pink cover? Do you know the name of the author?" I ask.

"Yes. It's David Matthews. No wait - that was another book. Deborah M something? A 'D' and an 'M' anyway."

"OK. A pink cover. Deborah M perhaps. D and M. What was it about?"



"Yes, it was all about knots."

I type knotting into the inventory search... And there it is: A book with a pink cover. But no, this book is about knitting. I have mistyped my search. Worth a try, anyway. I spin the computer screen so the customer can see it. 

"That's it!" she cries excitedly. Oh, the wonders of modern technology and clumsy typists. The book? The Knitting Diaries by Debbie Macomber. I guess knitting is a kind of knotting after all. Book sold, I look up to the next customer.

"I'm looking for a book... I'm not sure who it's by, but it had a yellow cover."
Shelf Talker
Leave Me
Gayle Forman
Reviewed by Linda

Maribeth has a full life – a husband, four-year-old twins, and a challenging job as a magazine editor. She suddenly is faced with a health scare and comes face-to-face with mortality and the life choices she has made. This novel explores one woman’s journey as she runs away from her life in reaction to her feelings about the claustrophobia of marriage and her ambivalence about motherhood. At times humorous and at other times deeply raw and revealing, Gayle Forman provides a big-hearted exploration of one woman’s journey back to herself and the characters she meets along the way.

Sneak Previews

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
Ruth Franklin
Released September 27th
Reviewed by Phil

I am not normally a reader of biographies, but this book demanded reading and I quickly found myself absorbed and engaged.

As a resident of North Bennington, I was particularly drawn to this section of the book - I drive past Jackson's former residence on my way to the bookshop each day. There are some fun snippets for the locals - Jackson used to shop at Powers Market, still in existence today.  There's a lovely request from the administration of Bennington College asking students to clear their windowsills of incriminating bottles before Parents Day. And was Jackson's most famous story, The Lottery, really based on actual people in North Bennington?

Franklin's book draws on previously undiscovered correspondence and dozens of new interviews. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life is an exploration of astonishing talent shaped by a damaging childhood and turbulent marriage. Franklin clearly loves her subject. It comes through in her writing, which sings.

Pre-order Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

Presumption of Guilt
Archer Mayor
Released September 27th
Reviewed by Phil

Joe Gunther is back! This is the 27th book in Archer Mayor's series and features all our old friends, Willy Kunkle - even more paranoid than usual! - Sammie Martens, Lester Spinney and Beverly Hillstrom. There is also a reprise from the Tag Man.

A skeleton is discovered during demolition work at the Vermont Yankee power station. The concrete slab in which the body is found was poured 40 years ago. Joe and his team are able to identify the body relatively quickly, but discovering a motive and the perpetrator of the crime proves more difficult. As the investigation continues, the victim's partner is found shot dead in his swimming pool, and Lester's son, also a police officer, is kidnapped. 

This is classic Archer Mayor - a thoroughly good police procedural. I read it in one sitting.

Pre-order Presumption of Guilt

Note: Archer Mayor will read from his latest book at the Bennington Free Library on October 6th, beginning at 7.00pm. There will be an opportunity for questions and book-signing at the end of Archer's talk. 

You can find more reviews here: Reviews and Recommendations
Student review
Each month, we ask local school students to submit reviews of the books they are reading. We select one of these for publication in the newsletter. The reviewer receives a $10 gift certificate for The Bennington Bookshop. This month's review is from Deanna Oakes. Congratulations, Deanna!

The Time Fetch
Amy Herrick
Reviewed by Deanna Oakes, Grade 5

I thought this book was amazing. It is a story about polar opposites becoming inseparable friends, and helping a young girl find her voice. This book has everything from drama, to bravery, to kindness. I would recommend The Time Fetch to anyone who likes to curl up with a good book. If I could describe this book in one word, I would call it "fantastical."  I give it five stars. Deanna Oakes

Buy The Time Fetch

Note: Deanna spent the summer working on a book of her own: Hugo and Jace: Their Demigod Tale. The book is now published and we have copies in stock. Congratulations, Deanna!

You can find all of our student reviews here.

Submissions: The decision of The Bennington Bookshop in selecting which reviews to publish in the newsletter is final. Other entries may be published on The Bennington Bookshop website. The Bennington Bookshop reserves the right to edit entries as necessary. By submitting a review, reviewers agree to these terms. Please submit reviews to

Coming up...

October 6th, 7pm -
An Evening with Archer Mayor
Bennington Free Library

Join us as Archer reads from his latest novel in the Joe Gunther series. There will be time for questions and book-signing at the end of Archer's talk.

October 30th, 6.30pm -
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
Carriage Barn, Park-McCullough House, North Bennington

Ruth Franklin reads from her new biography of Shirley Jackson, to be published by W.W. Norton in September. Sam Clement and friends will provide a musical introduction to the evening. There will be light refreshments and a cash bar. The event is free.

Note: For more information on these authors and events, as well as functions coming up later in the year, check out the Events page on our website.
  • Orders: We usually submit orders to our wholesaler on Monday and Thursday mornings. If you place an order before 11am on these days, we can have the book in The Bookshop by the next afternoon in most cases, or in three days if it is held at our Tennessee warehouse.
  • Book Clubs: We offer a 20% discount to book clubs and are happy to ship for a small cost. Check out what the other clubs in the area are reading here.
  • Dorothy's List: Vermont Public Radio compiles a list of books and reviews suitable for children. You can find the list here. We are happy to order books from the list for you if we don't have them in stock. There is no extra charge for special orders.
  • Best Sellers: We update the bestseller list each week. You can find the latest list here: Best Sellers
  • Looking for a book to read? Check out the Reviews and Recommendations page on our website.
  • Ordering online: To order books online, simply visit our website (, enter the name of the book you wish to order in the "Look for Books" window (in the right-hand column on each page), then enter your address details and credit card information as prompted. There is a small charge for postage or, if you're a local, you can opt to pick up the book in the store. Please note: Books appearing in the on-line search are not necessarily in stock at The Bookshop. We may have to order them in, but can ship most books in 1~5 days. Please call us if you want to confirm immediate availability: 802 442 5059
Store Hours
Monday~Saturday: 9.00am~6.00pm
Sunday: Noon~4.00pm
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