Books

Kirk Douglas Publishes Poetry Book

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kirk Douglas may be one of the biggest actors of his era, with starring roles in 1960’s Spartacus, 1949’s Champion and 1951’s Ace in the Hole. But on a recent crisp morning, he was having a grand time simply reciting his poetry by heart for an audience of one. With a twinkle of his blue eyes, he proclaimed: Romance begins at 80 And I ought to know. I live with …

A Legacy In Letters and on the Land

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It’s Nov. 21, 2014, about 10 a.m., and I’m heading up the Bill Hill trail in Thetford Center. The morning has been cold and squally, and right now fat snowflakes ride ripples of the shifting wind, settling onto ice that covers this opening bit of trail. I’m here to honor Noel (Ned) Perrin, …

On Prose: For a Writer, What Isn’t in a Name?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the first “On Prose” column from Lyme novelist, essayist and story writer W.D. Wetherell. Intended as a companion to Sydney Lea’s “On Poetry” columns, “On Prose” will appear semi-regularly on the Valley News Books page.  Let’s start things off with a surprise quiz. What do the following all share in common? Tommy Traddles. Hannibal Chollop. Sissy Jupe. Peepy …

New ‘Star Wars’ History Includes Fans, Franchise, Future

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How Star Wars Conquered The Universe by Chris Taylor is an immensely readable look at the worldwide impact of the Star Wars saga over the decades. He calls it “a biography of Star Wars.” The book covers more …

Bill Cosby: Master of the Riff

Sunday, October 5, 2014

You could make a case that Bill Cosby is America’s most popular jazzman. For most of his life, Cosby has been riffing, improvising, playing off audiences and other performers, all the while making it sound like he knew where he was going all along. When he hit the …

Amtrak Announces First Writers in Residence

Friday, October 3, 2014

In the 1930s, hobos illicitly rode the rails; nowadays, authors are being invited onto trains thanks to Twitter and a new writers residency program launched by Amtrak. On Sept. 24, Amtrak announced the first class of resident writers, 24 authors who will ride its long-distance routes over the …

Laugh After Death: California Mortician Shares Funny Funeral Industry Stories in New Book

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Signal Hill, Calif. — When it comes to death, mortician Ken McKenzie says people are far too serious. After creating a “Men of Mortuaries” calendar featuring buff, shirtless morticians wielding shovels in 2007 and releasing Mortuary Confidential in 2010, the California mortuary owner has a new book out. …

Ex-Rep. Frank Takes on Harvard

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cambridge, Mass. — After retiring from Congress at the end of 2012, Barney Frank sat down to write a political memoir. As one of the first openly gay members of Congress, and a lifelong fighter for LGBT rights, …

Academic v. High Court: Making a Case

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Erwin Chemerinsky has made an exemplary career out of teaching, writing and lecturing about the U.S. Supreme Court. And though he has strongly liberal views, he is widely admired for his ability to explain the work of the court in a way that is thoughtful, clear and fair. …

Watching Them Swim: Book Captures Puppies Underwater

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The blue eyes of Brando, an 8-week-old pit bull puppy, are open as he calmly watches air bubbles stream out of his nose. By contrast, the enormous brown eyes of 6-month-old Monty look wild and excited as the Cavalier King Charles spaniel chases a tennis ball through the …

Project Turns Film Scripts Into Books

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lyme author and publisher Ed Gray sees a future in dime novels. Well, not literally dime novels, but more like written movies, short e-books and paperbacks drawn from never-produced screenplays that will play in your head like a …

Writing a World to Explore

Friday, September 26, 2014

When readers pick up S.S. Taylor’s latest book, The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton’s Lair, she has a few goals in mind for them: To be engaged, to have fun and to sympathize with the characters. …

Lahr’s Biography Doesn’t Give Tennessee Williams His Literary Due

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr; W.W. Norton (765 pages, $37.95) One day a comprehensive literary biography of Tennessee Williams will be written that won’t resemble a psychiatric case study. Until then let’s savor …