By Susan Larson
Director, Milton Public Library
This month in Book Bits, let’s look at three new releases by Vermont authors: a crime novel, a memoir and a graphic novel.
“Bury the Lead” is the 29th book in Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther series. In this installment, Joe’s investigating the death of a young woman at a popular ski mountain, deadly acts of vandalism at a business and an outbreak of Ebola at a local hospital. Soon he and a Vermont Bureau of Investigation team are looking into motives that seem to link the cases. Mayor, who lives in Newfane, worked as an editor, researcher, photographer and journalist before beginning his career as an author. He writes in his blog that the Joe Gunther books began as his effort to become a professional, full-time writer: “Over time, though, they’ve become an expression of my discoveries about human nature, a way to sort through and share a few of the foibles and complexities we humans all think are ours alone (and aren’t), indulge in the English language as a painter does with colors, and have some fun along the way,” he said.
Former Vermont Gov. Madeleine May Kunin talks about the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual tolls of aging in her memoir “Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties.” Kunin served three terms as governor – from 1985 until 1991 – and then as ambassador to her native Switzerland from 1996 to 1999: “As I have gotten older, I have wanted to learn more about my family,” Kunin told Vermont Edition on Vermont Public Radio. Her family scattered to avoid Hitler, and now she’s doing genological research to reconstruct it. “I think it’s important for my children and my grandchild to trace these strands of family relationships,” she said. “It’s a rich experience to know where you come from.”
Kunin lost relatives in the Holocaust. “Part of my motivation to run for office has been in response to the holocaust, to express my gratitude for living in the United States of America where I could run for office, and I could speak out without prejudice, and that’s a great gift,” she told VPR.
Are there any surprise discoveries to aging? “That I’m still curious, that I still want to try things,” she said. “That you can still have fun and enjoy life.”
Kunin’s other books are “The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family” (2012), “Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead” (2008), and “Living a Political Life” (1995) which chronicles her early career. She currently is a distinguished professor at the University of Vermont and St. Michael’s College. She lives in Shelburne.
Fall 2018 sees the culmination of more than 20-years’ work in the release of Jason Lutes’ final volume of his “Berlin” graphic novel trilogy, simultaneous with a 580-page omnibus of all three. Seven Days writer Pamela Polston called it a “masterwork in the comics medium.” Lutes calls it “visual storytelling.”
“Aside from the sheer quantity of drawing and writing that went into the books, Berlin’s visual inventiveness, sharp observation and emotional impact have elicited gushing praise from early reviewers,” Polston said. “And, given its subject matter — the dissolution of Germany’s Weimar Republic and the rise of fascism — the graphic novel reads as eerily prescient in the current political climate.”
The historical-fiction series “delves into the sharply rendered tales of people so wrapped up in their daily lives that they sometimes can be oblivious to the larger shifting of Germany’s political tectonic plates,” wrote Michael Cavna in his Washington Post review.
“Book One: City of Stones” (2000) covers the eight months in Berlin between September 1928 and the lethal May Day demonstration of 1929, looking at the shadow of the coming war through the everyday lives of the city’s citizens.
“Book Two: City of Smoke” (2008) continues the story after the May Day demonstration, as tensions build and the transformation continues “from a liberal metropolis into a fascist stronghold.”
“Book Three: City of Light” (2018) begins with Hitler arriving in Berlin.
Drawn and Quarterly publishing executive editor Tom Devlin told the Washington Post he “sees in Lutes a cartoonist operating at the peak of his talent.”
Lutes lives in Hartland, and is an adjunct educator at The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Jct.