Archive for March, 2008


Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Art is everywhere around. Artists are everywhere around, too. Maybe it’s something in the air or the light or the water or the spare, but finest-kind, [sic] lifestyle or the eyes of willing beholders, or something else, but art is part of everyday life in Tenants Harbor. Okay, and Greater St. George, too.

Figure #9. Lobster buoys, yes. But also a hooked rug pattern?

At the moment, here in Minnesota, I can think of two books that illustrate the point. The first is Monhegan, the Artists’ Island, edited by Will and Jane Curtis. Greater St. George includes Monhegan because the ferry leaves from Port Clyde. Monhegan is an artists’ island because a lot of artists have and do live there. It is a wonderful place where people sit on the rocks and paint the water then move to the schoolhouse lawn and applaud the sunset. Monhegan, The Artists’ Island is a big, handsome book that tells the story of the Island with local art, usually paintings, used to make whatever points need making.

Figure #10. Marshall Point Rocks and Wildflowers, yes. But also a Shetland gray wool sweater with a spiky gold/green border and sea blue neck ribbing?

The other book with everyday art is publisher David Godine’s edition of The Country of the Pointed Firs, with black and white drawings by Douglas Alvord. I know a Mainer who is sure he knows the people in the drawings. Sometimes — rarely — he is more sure than right, but I like the idea too much to quibble.

Monhegan, the Artists’ Island. Edited by Will and Jane Curtis. Camden, ME: Down East Publications

Jewett, Sarah Orne. The Country of the Pointed Firs Drawings by Douglas Alvord. Jaffrey, NH: David R. Godine, Publisher


Friday, March 21st, 2008

Maine is not for everyone. Some people visit once, can’t find anything to do, get in a twit when cell phones don’t work, and willingly leave early. Others come, settle in, book the cottage for next year before they leave, and buy lots of withdrawal reads from Roseledge Books on their way away. So how do you know if you are likely to like Maine or to not like Maine?


#7. Fifty-five steps from the rock wall up the hill on Sea Street to Roseledge Books.

The best test I know is to read Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine. If you finish it and think nothing happened and, even worse, if you can’t figure out why it’s a classic, Maine is probably not for you.

Another good test is to read Sarah Orne Jewett’sThe Country of the Pointed Firs and to think that Dunnet Landing might be a good place to visit. Some think Dunnet Landing is really Tenants Harbor; others think it is Martinsville. One guy was sure it was Port Clyde. I don’t think the pace of village life in coastal Maine has changed much.

If you’ve come to Maine and had the first of a lifetime of best vacations ever, then Roseledge Books has some great withdrawal reads.


#8. An airy walk-by garden. I like airy.

My favorite “summer people” books are Ruth Moore’s Spoonhandle, a novel about rich people from away buying up local property, and Jim Sturba’s charming Frankie’s Place, A Love Story during which Midwesterner Sturba becomes a Mt. Desert “rusticator” and marries Frances Fitzgerald. Maybe I chose these books because I’m a Midwesterner who fell in love with Maine on a vacation near the rocks of Acadia and Frenchman’s Bay. Now 35 years later, I’m a summer people. But no matter what, both are great reads.

In the old days of twenty years ago or so, a subscription to the weekly newspaper, Maine Times, was a good way to keep memories alive. Today, the closest equivalent is a subscription to the monthly magazine, Down East. But for the book most likely to provoke the most varied and personal memories, I love Paintings of Maine. Find the places of your heart, remember the good times, and plan for next year

McCloskey, Robert. One Morning in Maine

Sturba, Jim. Frankie’s Place

Moore, Ruth. Spoonhandle

Jewett, Sarah Orne. The Country of the Pointed Firs

Paintings of Maine


Friday, March 14th, 2008

Foggy days are the best bookstore days. Sailors can’t safely sail, so after they moor their boats and walk to the cemetery with a stop for coffee, it’s onto Roseledge Books because there is little else. Cottage renters see the fog, settle in, then go to the general store for a local newspaper and — surprise! — walk right by inviting Roseledge Books. What reader can resist?


#5. Lobster boat stays home in the fog.

Foggy day readers browse.

“You’ve got a lot of books about strong women here,” the man said of the nonfiction choices.

“Well, they are more interesting, dear,” the woman said, without missing a beat among the fiction.

And readers — on foggy days, this often includes dads — browse for favorite books to decide if they should look further.

“You have The Great Hedge of India! It’s a GREAT book. I’ve never seen it in a bookstore before,” the dad-looking member of a group of five enthused. And then they all began to browse.

Moxham, Roy. Great Hedge of India: The Search for the Living Barrier That Divided a People

One of my favorite search books, both the digging through records and the tromping through the fields looking through the 2500 mile bramble hedge.

Five people at once really fill up the bookstore, especially when some of them are antsy kids. Roseledge Books figures readers are all of an age (Read: almost no books especially for children.), so if you have kids, look for anything short and pithy.

Kidnapped has been okay, if they wander around Tenants Harbor in a kind of related hide and seek. Suggesting they find the sites pictured on a $2.00 array of local post cards works, too.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Kidnapped.

Another suggestion that worked (Thank you, Wilma.) was to pair Persuasion with The Log of the Skipper’s Wife and ask: is there a generic sea captain’s wife? Jane Austen’s dialogue is so much fun that reading aloud is a possibility. And the voice of Ms. Balano is just fine, too. Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Henry IV, Part I were not popular as “group reads.”

Austen, Jane. Persuasion (Penguin Classics).
Balano, James. The Log of the Skipper’s Wife.

Then there is the inexpensive cookbook of chowders, soups, and stews which uses a stop for ingredients at the general store on the way back to the dinghy and a lengthy prep time — surely with few food fights –to wile away the fog. An earlier post mentioned the 5-minute artisan bread book as possible, too.

Standish, Marjorie. Chowders, Soups, and Stews.


#6: Fog moves away from some rocks.

Sometimes Roseledge Books saves foggy day lives.

“I need a book, right now, or I am going to kill the captain,” shouted the woman pounding on the door early one morning on the second foggy day. The captain, her husband, had missed a fog-free window of opportunity during which to leave the harbor. Or so she said.

“Okay,” I said, opening the door. “Fiction or non-fiction?”
“Fiction,” she replied, as she started looking through the A’s.
“Fat or thin?”
“Medium at least and a page-turner,” she said, as she got to the G’s and picked out a Richard Jury mystery by Martha Grimes. “This looks good,” she said paging through, “I haven’t read this one. And we’d better be out of the harbor by the time I’m done.”

Grimes, Martha. Dust. (The latest Richard Jury paperback.)

Good voyage, and if the fog hangs on for another day, Roseledge Books is here for you.


Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Commenter and friend Mary T. likes to read of the sea when near the sea, but that means very different things to different bookstore visitors: seafarers, cottage renters, overnighters, or summer people, like me. The folllowing are some newly published possibles.

LeClair, Jenifer. Rigged For Murder (Windjammer Mysteries). Durban House Press, 2007.
Paperback already!

Set in Maine on a windjammer and featuring a Minneapolis Police detective on leave, this mystery with romance got a “dandy” in the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press (2/17/2008). With likely ties to Tenants Harbor, as windjammers sail from nearby Rockland harbor and sometimes stop in Tenants Harbor, this is a Roseledge Books MUST, but for whom? Suggestion from Kathy, my best spotter of the remote.

Pope, Frank. Dragon Sea: A True Tale of Treasure, Archeology, and Greed off the Coast of Vietnam. NY:Harcourt, Inc./Harvest, 2007.

Adventure on the high seas, a plus. Vietnam might interest the getting-older sailors, even if –or maybe because — the wrecked ship has a boat load of fifteenth century ceramics. In the NYTimes Book Review’s “Paperback Row” of new and noteworthy. Probably for seafarers, maybe veterans, and for sure, me.

Gibbins, David. Crusader Gold. Bantam Books, 2007.

“Underwater adventure” and “unearthed medieval map” (or their equivalent) were the lure words in the NYTimes Book Review “Paperback Best Sellers: Mass-Market Fiction,” and the book, so far, is a good gamble. I’m only on Chapter 3, but the book starts with a great map that includes the Mediterranean and all the North Atlantic Ocean a story needs to include noted stops in England, Greenland, and, yes, the Viking remains in Labrador. Chapter 1 has a quick historical overview of Istanbul, in Chapter 2, the Vinland Map, a long time, if sometimes peripheral interest, is evoked, and Constantine is linked to the Vikings. If I’m really lucky the Irish monks might show up, too. I love this, and those who liked Clive Cussler’s Treasure might, too.

And not to forget:
O’Hanlon, Redmond. Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic. Vintage, 2006.

Author O’Hanlon’s travels are always amazing. This time he takes to the sea. North Atlantic alert.


Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Roseledge cottage has no insulation. This allows instant air conditioning with temperature shifts and big time humidity, especially when the fog rolls in. Mostly this is good or at least okay. But without insulation, hardcover books would wilt, just as did the cardboard innards of the old Selectric typewriter. So I have only paperbacks. I’ll have to wait, but the following hardcover suggestions are possible.

Hertzberg, Jeff and Zoe Francois. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007. Hardcover only, so far.

Foggy day activity book? Maybe, especially as Tenants Harbor General Store, formerly Hall’s Market, carries small bags of flour, but no longer carries Borealis or Atlantic Baking bread — at least not during summer ’07. A friend’s friend made and shared the bread in this book, and my friend declared it delicious. I hope the book comes out in paperback. I also hope the boats have ovens. If not, I’ll stick to having books of soups, stews, and chowders.

Manning, Phillip Lars. Dinomummy: The Life, Death, and Discovery of Dakota, A Dinosaur From Hell Creek. Boston: Kingfisher, 2007. Hardcover only, so far.

Any day activity book? Dinosaurs are always a plus, but add rocks and the book zings. The rocks of Marshall Point, a five mile car or bike ride from Roseledge, may not be hiding a dinosaur, but they are good rocks to check out and see what you find. Think tidal pools, contemporary shell heaps (read: clambake residue), old boat nails, shark teeth, or really round stones. Mostly Dinomummy is a possible Roseledge Books addition because it demonstrates once again that North Dakota, my childhood home, glows and because my very great-nephew, Alex, who is 1, pointed to the dinosaurs in the book and exclaimed, “Gah!” (according to his mother). Now THAT’S a rave review. I hope a paperback version is in its future.


#4. Marshall Point Light House Rocks. A view with perspective. A place to think about things that matter. Do you have to see islands for it to be a Maine view?

An e-mailer suggested:

Braestrup, Kate. Here If You Need Me: A True Story. Little, Brown, 2007.Paperback due July, 2008.

Kate Braestrup has a great voice and worthy perspective. (I’ve only heard her interviewed on Minnesota Public Radio.) And she’s a Mainer. Friend Dana recommended the book as being both inspirational and easy to listen to on the treadmill. She downloaded the ebook from the library. You might think buying it for Roseledge Books is a no-brainer.

But Here If You Need Me is not yet available in paperback, and that’s a problem. Uninsulated Roseledge with FOG [emphasis added] and temperature shifts treats flexible paperback books most kindly, even if the paper curls and turns yellow. The other problem has to do with books about tragedy, and this book assumes tragedy.

When Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm was first available in paperback (2007?), I bought six copies — a lot for Roseledge Books. The book was well received, the author lived nearby, the book was about sea and weather and tragedy that “my” sailors would recognize, and Linda Greenlaw, by then an author in her own right, was in the book. But soon thereafter, I suggested The Perfect Storm to a sailor. He looked at me, aghast, and said, “I’m not reading that while I’m sailing.” Of course not. I had glossed over a pertinent tragedy alert. These several years later, I still have most of the copies.

Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea. Harper Perennial Reissue, 2007.

Choosing books is tricky business. Kate Braestrup’s book is about life after tragedy, an important difference from Sebastian Junger’s book. A must for Roseledge Books come July. Good suggestion.