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The Bennington Bookshop      August 2015

 Vermont's oldest independent bookstore

August at The Bennington Bookshop

Welcome to our August Newsletter! This time, we feature an interview with Ed Rubin, fine art photographer and author of Vermont: An outsider's inside view. Ed will be talking about his book at the Bennington Free Library on August 24th. We also have a couple of guest reviews, one of Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, the other of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. In addition, we have a report on our July events which featured Kim Wassik, Jenna Woginrich, and Fidel Moreno, who gave us a sneak preview of this year's Rock, Rattle and Drum Pow Wow. Check out the "Coming up..." section for news of some exciting events in September. And some big news from us: We have found a place to live, and Phil, Blue, Ruby and Casey will be moving to Bennington in early September. Thanks to Mary Jo and her friend for sending us the photo of a house with a "For Rent" sign outside and a contact number! As always, thank you so much for your continued support of The Bennington Bookshop. It is greatly appreciated.
In his own words: Fine art photographer and author Ed Rubin
Ed Rubin is a production designer in film and television and a fine art photographer. He has six Emmy award nominations and won an Emmy for Art direction for Disney’s Cinderella. His work has been in over forty-five international competitions including the International Biennial of Photography in Malaga, Spain. His portrait of Vermonter Wilmer Brandt won first place in the Council on Aging’s Aging as Art at the Bowers Museum of Santa Ana, California. Here, Ed gives us a behind the scenes look at his book Vermont: An outsider's inside view.

On creating a book on Vermont: I originally came to Vermont in 1998 from Los Angeles to production design the independent feature film Mud Season, starring Rusty DeWees and George Woodard. I knew absolutely nothing about Vermont except that it was where maple syrup came from. During Mud Season, I met Vermonters Elliott and Florence Morse, and we became good friends. We stayed in touch over the years, and in 2010 I returned to Vermont because I was in a photography exhibition at The Darkroom Gallery in Essex Junction. I came out for the opening reception and also to see Elliott and Florence. It was at the opening reception in the gallery that I got the idea to do the book. I realized that Elliott and Florence were showing me a Vermont that tourists don’t get to see - the Vermont that they know, that their friends know - the Vermont of the real people who actually live and work there, and I saw how interconnected everyone in Vermont is, how they help each other out and yet remain fiercely independent, and how much they love and are defined by the land that they live on, and it was so different for me, coming from Los Angeles, that I had to show this.
I did this book because Vermont is special and I fell in love with its unique character. Vermont has an accessibility that you don’t find elsewhere. And, I might add, for a small little state with the population size of the city of San Francisco, it is actually huge in character, history, and complexity.

I am so grateful that I did this, so thrilled that I said “yes” to an idea instead of saying “no, I can’t,” because in saying yes I have learned what it is to feel fully alive and to thrive as an artist, as my authentic self. I have met so many angels who have helped me on the way - in ways that I could never have anticipated - and I know now, that my book is not only my gift to the people of Vermont - it is their gift to me.

On the inspiration for the book: I was inspired by the people and Vermont itself - the variety of people, the consciousness of working together and being of service to each other, and loving and respecting the place where they live. Life in Vermont is not easy. Everyone has three jobs and the weather, especially in winter, can be brutal. The love people have for this special place overrides everything - Vermonters are fiercely proud and passionate about where they live - yet they are private, preferring to simply live their lives outside of any sort of limelight. They are incredibly authentic about who they are - they aren’t perpetually waiting for their next audition like people in Los Angeles - and I found this amazingly refreshing. I wanted to show, through my photography and writing, that there are still places in America where people know each other deeply, help each other freely, and are bound to each other in heart, mind, and community. 

On selecting subjects to photograph: I had absolutely no plan when I set out to photograph people. I simply showed up in Vermont, and started asking my friends if I could photograph them. They would then recommend their friends to me and I would call them up, and most said yes. Then, those people would recommend other people to photograph. It grew completely organically. I also started asking complete strangers that I would meet in restaurants and other places if I could photograph them. I had never done anything like that before, and it took some courage to do. I had to develop a whole way of being with people while I photographed them that put them at ease. I would tell bad jokes, and sometimes we would even sing! I would be taking pictures as I asked them questions and I would look for that one moment when they would exhibit something really authentic about themselves, and I would get that shot. Usually a photo session would take about 45 minutes. I had no lighting equipment and did not do different camera setups - that, I feel, would have been artificial and distracting and possibly intimidating to my subjects, who were not used to being photographed by some guy from Hollywood. And, I wanted everything to be totally authentic, not artificial. I wanted my photos to express exactly who my subjects were, to tell their story through a glance, an expression, and I also wanted them to be in their particular environment - the place where they spend most of their time - either at work or at home. The places they are in also tell their stories.  

On the work involved in creating the book:
It took 4 years to create the book. I went to Vermont five times, staying 3 weeks each time. I took 20,000 photographs and was downloading about 800 photos per day. I went through every photograph, deciding which ones were the best. That’s why it took 4 years. The last two years, I actually stopped working in the film business in Hollywood because I needed that time to finish the book, otherwise it would never have been completed. I narrowed the selection down to about 350 photographs, and each photograph in that group was done in both black and white and color, because I wasn’t sure which version I would use in the book. Some photos, because of the bad lighting conditions I was shooting in, had to be in black and white. With the help of my book designer, Ron Shore of Fine Arts Press, I was able to narrow the selection down to about 200.

On the title of the book: The title Vermont: An outsider's inside view was actually suggested by my life partner, the poet Sam Ambler, who also edited my writing and helped with photo selection. Sam is brilliant, and An outsider’s inside view was his idea. I came up with Vermont.

On the absence of winter scenes in his book: I grew up in Southern California and I spent my summers going to the beach. My family used to go up to the mountains once every couple of years to “visit the snow.” I’m not kidding. I never saw an actual snow fall until I was in graduate school at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh! And I was twenty-five years old. The six years I spent both at school and in New York City were enough winter for me. Really. Also, the truth is that I was running all over the place every day and night in Vermont taking pictures, and I couldn’t have done what I did and also deal with snow. The roads are daunting enough in the dark, where anything can jump out at you at any moment, without having to deal with ice. I have no idea how to drive in the snow, and it terrifies me. So, no snow pictures - that is someone else’s book!

On his next project: Well, I just finished production designing the independent feature film Sister Cities in Los Angeles. Sister Cities is about four estranged sisters who are reunited for a weekend by the supposed suicide of their mother. It is directed by Sean Hanish and based on the play by Colette Friedman.

Note: Ed will be talking about his book at the Bennington Free Library on August 24th, starting at 7.00pm. There will be a question and answer session, and Ed will sign copies of his book. Refreshments will be provided.
Guest reviews
We feature a couple of guest reviews this month. Beth Morrison reviews All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Brittni Delmaine offers a review of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

By coincidence, Anthony Doerr was eating ice cream with his son in Paris when he learned that his latest novel had won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

What was the coincidence? “All the Light We Cannot See” takes place in occupied France during World War II; Doerr was in Paris in April to promote the book’s release in France.

Indeed, the entire novel could be said to center around an intricate set of coincidences. Its main characters are a blind French girl who flees occupied Paris for the ancient coastal town of Saint-Malo with her father, and an orphaned German boy who is a genius with numbers and with radio - the ultimate technology of the time. The boy is enchanted by scientific broadcasts in French that he hears on his homemade short-wave receiver in Germany; the girl’s grand-uncle in Saint-Malo is also a radio inventor and expert.

Doerr draws the two protagonists together at the time of the bombardment of Saint-Malo in August of 1944. His short, evocative chapters tell us how they and their families, colleagues, comrades, and enemies are experiencing the events swirling around them. We are transported across the continent and backward and forward in time, getting harrowing glimpses of the war and finely wrought insights into the people on both sides of the conflict.

The Pulitzer Prize committee called it an “imaginative and intricate” work. It is also a satisfying story about redemption in the face of our greatest human failing. Beth Morrison

Go Set a Watchman is a novel of real thematic significance, serving not just as a treatise about race, prejudice, and privilege, but, importantly, as a discussion of independence and its place in personal and societal growth. "Every man's island, Jean Louise, every man's watchman, is his own conscience," Jean Louise's Uncle Jack tells her in one of the culminating scenes. His statement is a signpost for Jean Louise's personal journey through fighting societal issues and breaking from the conscience of her father. Both are necessary for her emergence into adulthood and make Go Set a Watchman an excellent companion to To Kill a Mockingbird. Brittni Delmaine

July reports
The Bennington Bookshop would like to thank everyone who came to the various events we organized for July. We really appreciate your support. Here is a summary of what happened.

Kim Wassick, July 18th
Kim read all three books from her Basil and Prune the Pug series, delighting both children and their parents with the amusing adventures of Basil and her pug, Prune, and all in glorious rhyme! Kim is currently working on a fourth book, Basil and Prune the Pug's Christmas.

Jenna Woginrich, July 20th
Jenna enraptured the audience as she read from her book One Woman Farm, and shared tales about life on her farm, Cold Antler Farm. Her book takes the form of a diary and documents a year in the life of the farm. Jenna told how her publisher spent two days photographing the farm, then sent the photographs to an artist in England who created the illustrations for the book. "I couldn't be more happy with the outcome," Jenna said. "The drawings are exactly what I had pictured for the book." There was an extended period of questions before Jenna settled down to sign copies of her books.


Rock, Rattle and Drum Sneak Preview, July 24th and 25th
Fidel Moreno, co-director of Healing Winds, gave us a sneak preview of this year's Rock, Rattle and Drum Pow Wow. Here he is leading a Big Drum Meditation at The Bennington Bookshop. Fidel also read a selection of Native American children's stories with Seventh Generation Teachings. Seventh Generation Teachings come from Native American Wisdom traditions that speak to the power and value of awareness in all that we say, do and feel. The Teachings tell us to consider carefully our actions as they impact our children and our children's children and those yet unborn for seven generations down the line. Healing Winds is a not-for-profit Native American educational and cultural organization which serves as a resource network for Native American families, educators, schools and university internship programs. Most of its cultural programs, special events and educational activities are produced in the tri-state region of Vermont, New York and Massachusetts.

Note: The Bennington Bookshop has expanded its selection of books on Native American history and culture, as well as its range of Native American children’s stories.
Etcetera
  • Sun and Fun! The Bennington Bookshop will be selling books at Sun and Fun at Second Congregational Church on Saturday, August 22 from 10.00am~3.00pm. Sun and Fun is a community celebration of the environment, solar, and sustainability.
  • Summer Hours: We have extended our business hours for the summer. We are now open until 6.00pm Monday to Thursday, and Saturday, and until 8.00pm on Friday.
  • Book Sale: We have a selection of books on sale - 40% off. Recent releases in hardcover - fiction, biography, art, cookbooks, Young Adult, and more. Come in and check out the sale!
Coming up...
August 24th, 7.00pm -
A Conversation with Ed Rubin
Bennington Free Library
Ed Rubin talks about his new book Vermont: An outsider's inside view
Co-sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop.


"Emmy award-winning art director and international award-winning fine art photographer Edward L. Rubin has created a stunning visual portrait of the people and landscapes of contemporary Vermont. Rubin has photographed everyone from the Governor to goat farmers, artists, mechanics, supreme court justices, waitresses, and activists in beautiful color and black and white photographs revealing life in the Green Mountain State from the unique perspective of an outsider who has been invited to join in and record privileged, private moments. His images reveal that there are still places in America where people know each other deeply, help each other freely, and are bound to each other in heart, mind, and community." Fine Arts Press

September 19th, 2.00pm -
A Short Story Writing Workshop with Megan Mayhew Bergman
Bennington 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.

September 24th, 7.00pm -
The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How: Field to Table Cooking Skills - Andrea Chesman
Bennington Free Library
Local Vermont author Andrea Chesman talks about her book and demonstrates the fine art of making the perfect sauerkraut.

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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http://www.benningtonbookshop.com
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