Literary New England

Companion site to the Literary New England Radio Show

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Lit Site: The Weissmanns’ Westport

Want to see the beach cottage that Betty Weissmann and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, live in? Take a stroll on Fairfield, Norwalk and Danbury avenues along the Westport, CT, shore, and pick any of the gabled-roof or picked-fenced cottages that line these adorable streets. All inspired the house in The Three Weissmanns of Westport, said author Cathleen Schine, who grew up in this beachside community.

Indeed, most of the setting of The Three Weissmanns is right there at Westport’s Compo Beach, which is bordered by both Long Island Sound and the Saugatuck River. Fans who want to visit Compo and walk where the Weissmanns do will also find at the 29-acre park a boardwalk, pavilion, concession stand, two sand volleyball courts, large wooden playscape, and bathroom facilities with lockers. The beach is adjacent to the Ned Dimes Marina and is handicapped accessible.

Additional recreational facilities include a baseball field, basketball court and skate park. No visit, however, would be complete without a stop at the two Revolutionary War-era cannons that mark the landing and departure point of British forces in 1777 and appear in The Three Weissmanns of Westport.

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"I don’t think it’s a writer’s job to make people feel comfortable" - Rachel Urquhart, whose novel The Visionist was chosen as one of O’s must-reads, among other notable honors. Hear Rachel on the August 4 Literary New England Radio Show, along with guests Kimberly Elkins on What Is Visible, Katherine Howe on Conversion and Nadia Hashimi on The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. Save the date!! Listeners will have the chance to win each of these novels.

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#FirstLines from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

If you follow @LitNewEngland on Twitter, you know that over the past couple of months we’ve Tweeted the #FirstLines and #LastLines of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” HP Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House,” Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” and several other works from New England authors. Today, we start Tweeting the #FirstLines of poems from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” Please follow and let us know if you enjoy them!

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Thimble (or Thumb!) Islands

In “Books Can Be Deceiving,” the first of Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lover’s Mystery series, Briar Creek and the Thumb Islands are really Stony Creek and the Thimble Islands in Branford, CT. While, thankfully, murder is not a regular thing in Stony Creek—a quality, affluent shoreline town with a village feel— it’s not difficult to imagine Lindsey Norris, the heroine of “Books,” going to work in Stony Creek’s Willoughby Wallace Memorial Libraryor taking a cruise to the Thimble Islands. The Thimbles are an archipelago of more than 100 tiny islands, some no larger than rocks and others, like the largest, Horse Island, spanning 17 acres. Twenty-five of the islands are inhabited with roughly 90 homes, some of which are full-fledge mansions and others no more than summer shacks. The name “Thimble” comes not from the size of the islands, but the thimbleberry (a type of black raspberry) that used to grow on them in abundance. Legend has it that Captain Kidd used the islands to evade the British Royal Navy in 1699 and buried treasure there.  Today, the islands are privately owned and carry names like Grey Rock, Potato Island, Pot Island, Money Island and Hen Island.

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#TheEmpathyExams author Skypes w/SMDEP program undergrads

Leslie Jamison, author of the award-winning essay collection The Empathy Exams, Skyped on Wednesday with students attending the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at the Yale School of Medicine. Students read The Empathy Exams as part of the Writing/Communications component of the program, which is led by Literary New England Radio Show host Cindy Wolfe Boynton, who is also a writer and college professor. Currently working on earning a doctorate from Yale, Leslie was featured on the Literary New England Radio Show in June. Listen to her in the show archives by following this link:

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DYK Deborah Harkness is a New England girl?

Three of Deborah Harkness’ first four appearances for The Book of Life will be in New England! At 7 pm Wednesday, July 16, she’ll be reading and signing at Mt. Holyoke College’s Hooker Auditorium, sponsored by The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass. Tickets are $5 and, in order for your book to be signed, it must have been purchased from Odyssey. A portion of the proceeds of the event will benefit the Mt. Holyoke Club of the Pioneer Valley. At 7:30 pm Thursday, July 17, she’ll be reading and signing at the Canaan Meetinghouse in Canaan, NH, with Norwich Bookstore selling books. And at 7 pm Friday, July 18, she’ll be reading and signing at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass. Preferred seating to this event is sold out, but those who’d like to have their book signed, and don’t mind just hearing audio of the talk going on downstairs, can hang out upstairs in the store and be part of the celebration that way. The line for book signing only will begin at 6 pm outside the store. If you can’t make any of these events but want to get to know Deborah a little better, listen to the Literary New England Radio Show either live tonight at 8 pm or any time after in the Literary New England Radio Show Archives »