Author Traces the Colebrook Shootings in Nonfiction Account

Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, September 11, 2015
On Aug. 19, 1997, a northern New Hampshire man named Carl Drega living near Colebrook, N.H., went on a shooting rampage, killing four people who included a local judge, the editor of the daily Colebrook News and Sentinel and two New Hampshire state troopers. These were people against whom Drega had nursed long-time grudges, or they happened to get in his way that day. The reaction in the North Country town of some 2,000 people was, of course, horror and shock.

Now, writer Richard Adams Carey has reconstructed the events in his nonf iction account In the Evil Day (ForeEdge Books , an imprint of the Lebanon-based University Press of New England), tracing the origin of both Drega’s violence and the stories of the people he murdered. Carey writes with empathy and insight about how the town endured the shootings, and how it rebounded.

Writing the Rails

Of all the unconventional voices to grace the pages of The New Yorker one of the most singular was that of E.M. Frimbo, the pen name of editor Rogers E.M. Whitaker.

Frimbo was an inveterate rider of the rails, the self-described “world’s greatest train buff.” He wrote about riding trains for The New Yorker and was most prolific from the 1940s to the 1970s. He died in 1981, but even death couldn’t stop his travels. This from New Yorker writer Mark Singer:

Included in Frimbo’s mileage total of 2,748,674.73 miles (Whitaker was a stickler for precision) was the journey his ashes made in July, 1981, two months after his death, en route to being scattered over a section of track in the Cumbres Pass, Colorado, at the highest point in the United States still traversed by narrow-gauge passenger railroad.

Tonight, in conjunction with this weekend’s Glory Days Festival, the Main Street Museum in White River Junction will hold a series of readings from Frimbo’s work, which was collected in All Aboard with E.M. Frimbo . The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7 and the readings start at 8 and run like a train on a trunk line, deep into the night.

More New Books

Vermont writer and journalist Stephen Kiernan, whose previous novel The Curiosity asked what might happen if a man found frozen in Arctic ice could be reanimated, looks at veterans returning from war in his recently released novel The Hummingbird (William Morrow). Through the story of a hospice nurse in California who must contend with her husband’s PTSD (the result of three tours in Iraq), Kiernan weighs the obligations of service to country, and the costs of war.


For those who are interested in nature writing, the estimable magazine Northern Woodlands will be holding its annual writers and readers conference from Oct. 16 through Oct. 18 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center on Lake Morey in Fairlee.

There will be an array of workshops and panel discussions led by a roster of writers that includes Bernd Heinrich, a professor emeritus at the University of Vermont and author of Ravens in Winter and The Snoring Bird ; David Macauley, the MacArthur Fellowship recipient, illustrator of The Way We Work and Cathedral and a Norwich resident; Peter Forbes, conservationist and author of The Great Remembering , Further Thoughts on Land , Soul and Society ; bear rehabilitator and author Ben Kilham, from Lyme; Robin Brickman, children’s book illustrator of A Log’s Life and Swallows in the Treehouse ; and David Sobel, an educator at Antioch College New England who writes about educating children about environmental issues.

Among other things, the organizers promise woods walks, illustration classes, writing workshops and an abundance of s’mores. For information and registration go to northernwoodlands.org/writersconference.

Book Groups

The Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock will hold a number of book-related events over the next few months. First up a re book discussions and readings set for next week.

A discussion of Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman , led by former University of Vermont professor of English Margaret Edwards, happens at 4 p.m. on Monday, i n the library’s mezzanine. Is Go Set A Watchman a book that shouldn’t have been published? Is it more realistic than To Kill A Mockingbird ? These questions will surely arise.

At 7 p.m. on Monday, p oet Danny Dover reads from his first full-length book of poetry, Tasting Precious Metal , and Dorothy Robson will accompany him on the piano with music inspired by Dover’s poetry. Dover’s poems have appeared in Blueline and numerous issues of Bloodroot Literary Magazine . He has published one chapbook, Kindness Soup, Thankful Tea (Dhotarap Press, 2006). D over was a 2013 Pushcart nominee.

Meanwhile, over in Meriden and Plainfield, t he discussion group “One Town-One Book” picks up the John Steinbeck classic The Grapes of Wrath . With its depiction of migrants on the move, seeking a better, more stable life, The Grapes of Wrath is always pertinent, but in light of the recent crisis of refugees from Syria flooding into Europe, the themes of displacement and resilience are even more salient.

Discussion takes place at the Plainfield School beginning on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The group then meets for the next two Thursdays. On Oct. 1, at the Plainfield Grange, Dartmouth college English professor Suzanne Brown will also lead a group reading the book, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Nicola Smith can be reached at nsmith@vnews.com.