The Bennington Bookshop   October 2015

 Vermont's oldest independent bookstore


Welcome to our October Newsletter! This one is out a few days earlier than usual so that we can provide information about events early in the month. There's a lot happening! On October 3rd, we have a reading and book signing with Vermont author Stephen Kiernan at the Vermont Veterans' Home. Then, on October 8th, Archer Mayor will be reading from his latest Joe Gunther novel, The Company She Kept. Marie White Small will be having a book reading on October 13th to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Stony Kill. And bestselling author Megan Mayhew Bergman is holding a writing workshop on October 17th. If that's not enough to keep you - and us! - busy, we have an event with Howard Frank Mosher at the beginning of November. We also will be holding a regular Children's Story Hour with Chris Gingo, starting on October 17th at 10.00am. Details of all these events are given below. This edition of the newsletter also features interviews with Archer Mayor and Marie White Small. We have a sneak preview of the latest novel from Mick Herron. And now that everyone is back at school, we're happy to include our latest student review by Lilly Harris in Grade 4. As always, thank you so much for your continued support of The Bennington Bookshop.
The Hummingbird - Stephen Kiernan
Reading and Discussion: 3.00pm, Saturday, October 3rd, at the Vermont Veterans' Home

Vermont author Stephen Kiernan reads from his latest novel The Hummingbird. The novel relates the story of Deborah Birch, a seasoned hospice nurse, and her relationship with her husband Michael, who has returned from deployment in Iraq haunted by nightmares, anxiety and rage. Deborah’s primary patient at the hospice is Barclay, and, as Barclay begrudgingly comes to trust Deborah, the stories he shares from World War II guide her to find a way to help her husband Michael battle his demons. The novel is a story of marital commitment, service to country, the battles we fight for those we love, learning to let go, and finding absolution through wisdom and acceptance.

"I'm not sure I've ever read a novel that so poignantly depicts the brevity of life, the significance of each moment, the impact we have on one another." Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace

Co-sponsored by the Bennington Area Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice and The Bennington Bookshop.

In his own words: Archer Mayor
On finding the time to write amidst a busy schedule: It's not as difficult as it appears, especially now that I'm semi-retired as a cop, and completely retired as a firefighter/EMT (although still on the board of the department, and still employed by the ME.) I've always enjoyed working 7 days/week, and generally exceed the standard 8 hour work day, just by instinct. That being said, what might be considered a "normal" 40-hour week suddenly expands significantly in my case. It is true that for many years, I actually did work all those jobs simultaneously (meaning 3 "full-time" commitments to the writing, law enforcement, and the ME's office, on top of volunteering for the fire department,) but then I wrote whenever I had the time between emergency calls. Fortunately, I've been writing for so many years that doing so is an instinctive act, practiced as easily for me at 4am as at 4pm. 

On the realism and authenticity of his novels: I don't overreach for my material, simply put. I found out early on that if I paid attention to what was happening all around me (and I have been to over 2,000 emergency-related calls so far, and counting) the inspiration would surround me like flood water. The trick for me was to get out and mix with others in crisis situations. I do a lot of research, for every book, but it is undeniably my involvement with my other jobs that lends the greatest credibility to my "writer's voice."

On what he does in his "downtime": Woodworking is for me what it is for Joe. We share that same enthusiasm, along with reading history books. I also enjoy photography and riding motorcycles, either with Margot on the trike, or solo on my cruiser. Much as I have devoted over 40 years to writing—35 of them professionally—I do not consider it relaxing. I distrust writers who wax on about the "joys" or "fun" of writing. It had better be, in my opinion, carefully wrought, hard work, deserving of the reader's time and commitment. On the flip side, of course, it gives me pleasure to write—it is my means of expressing myself, and I take the pride in it that any artist should take in his or her work.

On book endings: I don't write from an outline, preferring to just follow the story, wherever it might lead me. But these are police procedurals by definition, and thus begin at the office and sometimes end there, as well, in preparation for the next case. In The Company She Kept, I ended with an action scene, but it was nevertheless a conclusion, leaving the team ready and able to move. By habit, I tend to end my stories when I feel I've told the reader everything that was on my mind.

On whether there might be a role for a Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI):
Nope. There are roughly 68 separate law enforcement agencies in the state. They all have their pride, their traditions, and the support of their backers to encourage them to hold tight to the status quo. It is unlikely that they would tolerate some governor taking away responsibility for all major cases and handing it over to a creation of his own making. However, the Vermont State Police, which is obviously the alpha dog of the pack, has just recently created its own in-house major case unit, which amusingly does resemble the VBI, in part.
On what constitutes his favorite book: The one I'm currently dreaming up, because I haven't screwed it up yet by writing it. That's a jokey response, of course, but it is true that once you've concluded an artistic endeavor—whatever it may be—it's only then that you can appreciate how you might've done this or that differently. In execution and completion, all art loses the "plasticity" it had in the conceptual stage, where everything and anything was possible.
On what he is reading at the moment: Paris, 1919 by Margaret MacMillan, about the so-called Versailles Peace Treaty, but more pointedly detailing how the immediate aftermath of WWI laid down the roots of much of the discords and tensions of the 20th Century and today.

Note: Archer will be reading from his latest book The Company She Kept at the Bennington Free Library on October 8th, starting at 7.00pm. There will be a question and answer session, and Archer will sign copies of his book. Refreshments will be provided. The event is co-sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop.
In her own words: Bennington author Marie White Small
Bennington author Marie White Small's debut novel Stony Kill will be released on October 13th. In celebration, The Bennington Bookshop is pleased to hold a book release party. Marie has previously published short fiction in the anthology Southshire Pepper-Pot. Here, she talks about her novel, and how she came to write it.

On the inspiration for the novel: The story was inspired from a sorrowful family incident. A family member’s son was killed at age fourteen when he and his best friend had unprecedented access to a firearm and ammunition. In writing this story and researching gun violence and children, for many young boys between the ages of twelve and sixteen, there are certain markers that psychologically propel them into manhood. These symbols represent power and mastery over their world. Often the two most prominent keys to adulthood for boys are cars and guns. Starting a car’s ignition, feeling the steering wheel rumble against a boy’s palms, or pulling the trigger and feeling that powerful kickback—there is a level of irresistibility that overtakes reason, and too often results in tragedy. I wanted to explore that in this book. And because often, though not always, these incidents are framed around parental irresponsibility, I created a family that embodies that dynamic.

On the process of writing Stony Kill: I began the first draft of Stony Kill in 1996. I spent three years writing a first draft, and being a novice, didn’t know what I was doing, or how to repair the problems I created. I set it aside, only occasionally working on it until 2014. In the meanwhile, I concentrated on short fiction and had written a story in which I borrowed elements from that original manuscript. I felt that piece of short fiction was the best work I had written to date. It was months later when I realized that short story held the answer to what the original draft was sorely lacking. When I first wrote Stony Kill, that original 1996 draft, it was from Joss’ point of view as a child. I struggled with how to tell the story also from an adult perspective. I tried several devices—giving the crows human voices and soliloquies, expanding the novel into Joss’ early adult years, writing a forward and afterward. None were satisfying. So it sat in the drawer for years.

The short story I created was Joss as an adult dealing with her father and I played with time—flipping back and forth from present to past. My impetus was to tell the reader that past informs the present, and present changes the view of the past. When I wrote this short story, I had all but abandoned the novel. It didn’t occur to me until months later that this was the answer to the construction of that original draft. It would allow me to tell Joss’ story as an adult without disrupting the arc of the overall narrative. I spent the next year rewriting and completing Stony Kill.

On setting the novel in New York State: The novel is set in New York State because I wanted the story to be set in Canaan, referencing the biblical meanings of Canaan, and it also needed to be a place where the Stony Kill flows. [Biblically,] Canaan was and continues to be a place of both promise and turmoil, of wildness and transformation. I used this place name in Stony Kill to inform readers in a subtle way that Red Mills Farm on Sweet Milk Road is part of the land of milk and honey, part of the family of early Canaanites. It is a place of destruction and transformation—a land promised to successive generations. My hope is that readers will believe that Joss and Wyatt will be the trustees of transformation, that they will bring order and mutual benefit to each other and to this land.

On how it feels to publish her first novel: Astonishing, overwhelming, wonderful! I am honored, humbled, and blessed to have my work out into the ether of the world. Given that I am near retirement age, it’s my great third act!

On her current project: I’m working on a novel titled, There were Wolves in Poland. It’s the story of a disgraced newspaper reporter, Asa Gray Toothman who retreats to an island off the coast of Maine and encounters three women who meet regularly at the local café for breakfast. One of them, Anastazja Sokol is an elderly and formidable woman who had been a novitiate in Poland during World War II. The two other women include a housekeeper and a former prostitute. Asa is fascinated by these women and tells their stories in his start-up weekly.  In these stories, once again, he is faced with a moral dilemma—similar to the one that derailed him in his previous position.

On advice for aspiring writers in the community: First of all, read excellent books and superior writing. We all write on the backs of every writer we have read. Secondly, join a writing group! There are many on-line groups, though face-to-face process is, I think, best. I began a group here in Bennington ten years ago. During that span of years, and with approximately thirty writers through my doorway, there were three individuals who garnered traditional book contracts—not bad for a small community. Because I could not find a group here, I created one with an ad in the Bennington Banner, and posters slathered all over town. It worked!

Note: Marie will be having a book reading at The Bennington Bookshop on October 13th, starting at 7.00pm.
Writing Workshop with Megan Mayhew Bergman
Don't forget that local best-selling author Megan Mayhew Bergman will be conducting a writing workshop: Writing your first short story - How to find inspiration and material, write, and edit your first short story. The event will be held at the Bennington Free Library, from 2.00~3.30pm on Saturday, October 17th. For a list of short story collections that have inspired Megan, check out our website:
The event is co-sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop.
Children's Story Hour with Chris Gingo
We are happy to announce that we will be holding a regular Children's Story Hour the third Saturday of each month, starting October 17th at 10.00am in The Bookshop. Chris Gingo will read from a selection of her favorite storybooks. Come along and join in the fun!
Sneak Preview
Real Tigers
Mick Herron
To be released in January 2016

This is the third book in Mick Herron's irreverent Slow Horses series of spy novels. Herron has won multiple awards for his previous books in the series, Slow Horses and Dead Lions. Slough House (Slow Horses) is a British spy department where incompetent operatives are retired out of harm's way. They spend their days filling forms and filing. It's a life of dreadful and unending drudgery. But then one day one of the slow horses is kidnapped, setting off a chain of events that threatens the highest officials and MI5 itself. This is a very entertaining book - I have caught myself laughing out loud several times, something I rarely do while reading. It's cheeky and funny, rude at times, poking fun at the British establishment, the spy services, and spy novels themselves. I look forward to finding the other novels in the series.
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 Lilly Harris. Congratulations, Lilly!

One Dead Spy - Nathan Hale
Reviewed by Lilly Harris, Grade 4

One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale is part of a series of graphic novels about American history. The series is called Hazardous Tales, and the first of the series is about the author’s namesake, Nathan Hale, the first American spy during the American Revolution. In the beginning of the book, Hale was about to be hanged, and then he got swallowed by a giant history book, and when he came out, he could see the future. He tells his hangman and the guard stories from the future. The story in the first book is about the real Nathan Hale, and how he graduated from Yale and joined the Revolutionary army. He was very unlucky because he got caught on his spy mission. I liked the hangman in this book because I thought he was funny. The whole book made learning about American history funny and fun. Lilly D. Harris

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
September Report
We had a fun time at our event with Andrea Chesman on Thursday, September 24th. Andrea regaled us with stories of cooking and family life during an engaging demonstration of the art of making the perfect sauerkraut. Sensibly, Andrea enlisted the help of a volunteer to do the hard physical work of mashing up the cabbage with salt, which starts the process. Thanks for volunteering John! There was lots of laughter and a great sourdough bread with tasty home-made jam. Andrea also had a sample of her Yukon Gold sourdough starter, dating from 1896, which she got from a friend who got it from a member of his study group when he was in law school, who got it from the guy across the hall, who got it from his father, a fish and wildlife ranger in Alaska, who got it from his secretary, who got it from her grandfather, who was a gold miner...  Thanks to everyone who came. Thanks, too, to Andrea.
  • New releases:
    • September 29th, 2015: The Company She Kept Archer Mayor
    • October 6th, 2015: God's Kingdom Howard Frank Mosher
    • October 13th, 2015: Stony Kill Marie White Small
  • 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
Coming up...
October 3rd, 3.00pm -
The Hummingbird
Stephen Kiernan
Vermont Veterans' Home

Co-sponsored by the Bennington Area Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice and The Bennington Bookshop.

October 8th, 7.00pm -
The Company She Kept
Archer Mayor
Bennington Free Library

Archer Mayor reads from his latest novel in the Joe Gunther series, The Company She Kept. There will be opportunities to ask questions and for book-signing. Refreshments provided. 
Co-sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop.

October 13th, 7.00pm -
Stony Kill
Marie White Small
The Bennington Bookshop
In celebration of her book's release, Marie will be having a book reading at The Bennington Bookshop.
There will be opportunities to ask questions and for book-signing. Refreshments provided. 

October 17th, 10.00am -
Children's Story Hour with Chris Gingo.
The Bennington Bookshop

October 17th, 2.00pm -
A Sho
rt Story Writing Workshop with Megan Mayhew Bergman
ngton Free Library
To celebrate the release in paperback of her bestselling collection of stories Almost Famous Women, local author Megan Mayhew Bergman is holding a reading and a short story writing workshop: Writing your first short story - How to find inspiration and material, write, and edit your first short story. There will also be opportunities to ask questions and for book-signing.
Co-sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop.

November 2nd, 7.00pm -

God's Kingdom
Howard Frank Mosher
In his talk "Where Fiction Comes From," Howard Frank Mosher introduces his new book God's Kingdom. There will also be opportunites for questions and for book signing.
Co-sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop.

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.
Store Hours
Monday~Thursday, Saturday: 9.00am~6.00pm
Friday: 9.00am~8.00pm
Sunday: Noon~4.00pm
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