Norwich Bookstore Presents Peter Orner on Northeast Kingdom’s Howard Frank Mosher
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is rich in writers. Author Howard Frank Mosher spent 52 years living there, capturing its life in words over a four-decade career.
Writer and Dartmouth College professor Peter Orner will lead a presentation about Mosher’s work at the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont on February 9, 2023 at 7:00 pm. The talk will be held in celebration of two of Mosher's titles, Where the Rivers Flow North—to which Orner has contributed a new introduction—and Marie Blythe, new editions of which were released this past fall by Brandeis University Press.
Critics and casual readers alike celebrate Mosher’s writing for a keen sense of place that portrays the Northeast Kingdom, according to filmmaker Jay Craven, as “a bit mythic, with flawed but human characters.” (Craven has adapted several of Mosher’s novels for the screen.) Mosher had an eye for the natural world but also for the people who live and toil there. In his new introduction, Orner observes:
“These stories are grounded in the dailyness of hard work, outside, in usually harsh weather. These characters aren’t, to take an easy pot shot (as much at myself as anybody else), texting their angst into a cell phone. Mosher’s people wouldn’t understand how anybody could have such time. They’re too busy working.”
Orner’s presentation at the Norwich Bookstore comes on the heels of the publication of his newest work, Still No Word from You: Notes in the Margin, nominated for a PEN Award for the Art of the Essay. The title comes from a World War II-era letter from Orner’s grandfather to his grandmother; he was the faithful correspondent, she was not as inclined. One of the book’s essays was inspired by Orner’s discovery of the word “yes!” scribbled by his mother (in the days of her youth) in the margins of a poem in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. He explains, “I found it and I tried to imagine her as a much younger person, in the early 1960s in Chicago, being excited about the future.” The New York Times, among others, has high praise for this book:
“Orner is a highly lauded author whose writing, in both fiction and nonfiction, is an act of wizardry. In each of these micro-essays, he reduces the meat of his own life down to the bone, then stirs in fatty excerpts from hundreds of stories, novels and poems by writers ranging from Woolf to Rhys, Babel to Kafka. The resulting brew sometimes scalds, sometimes soothes, but always proves that literature can be a kind of sustenance."
For more information about Orner’s presentation at the Norwich Bookstore on February 9, please click here. Tom Barbash, author of The Dakota Winters whose introduction graces the new edition of Marie Blythe, will join remotely, via Zoom.
An appreciative nod to Brandeis University Press for the invitation and for kindly providing the galleys. Photos courtesy of the Norwich Bookstore, Peter Orner and Brandeis University Press)
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And in case you are wondering . . . Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.