Certain publishers really know their place — and Vineyard Stories is one of them. The books that Jan Pogue’s one-woman operation publishes in Edgartown are as strongly tied to Martha’s Vineyard as the Black Dog Tavern’s signature logo.
When Pogue fell in love with the island during a visit from Atlanta, she fell hard — and decided to move to the Vineyard. Founded in 2005, Vineyard Stories will publish its 25th book this summer. There are children’s books, cookbooks, mysteries, histories, and photography books. Three recently published volumes are of particular note: “The Chappy Ferry Book” tells the saga of an island oddity; “To the Harbor Light,” a guide to 20 lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod, features the luminous images of Vineyard photographer Alison Shaw; and “Home Bird: Four Seasons on Martha’s Vineyard” gathers pieces on everyday life.
“Chappy” author Tom Dunlop researched 200 years of history to deliver a host of colorful stories about the ferry that travels the 527 feet between Edgartown and Chappaquiddick. It has caught on fire, been struck by a seaplane, and once dumped an SUV and its intoxicated driver into the harbor. The ferry attracted a crush of traffic in the summer of 1969 after a car driven by the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy plunged into the ocean and passenger Mary Jo Kopechne drowned. In the early 1970s, “Jaws” director Steven Spielberg staged a two-minute scene on the ferry in which the police chief is persuaded to keep the beaches open after the first shark attack.
The photographs make “To the Harbor Light” a fine substitute for actually visiting the lighthouses, but tips on access are included for the intrepid. For example, the only way to reach Cape Pogue Light on Chappaquiddick is via a seven-mile roundtrip hike or a private four-wheel drive vehicle with a permit. The only way to get inside is to go on a Trustees of Reservations tour.
In her essay collection, “Home Bird,” Laura Wainwright celebrates pleasures of the island such as picking raspberries and foraging for mushrooms. The Lambert’s Cove resident offers eight recipes, including wild grape jelly, fish stew, and eggnog. She calls herself a home body; to her English cousin she’s a home bird. “When the summer season turns to autumn,” Wainwright writes, “instead of moving on, we hunker down.”
Cultivating a novel
The gardens that figure prominently in Andrew Grossman’s fantasy novel “Lost Sky” (Queered Fiction) grew out of his work as a landscape designer. He has visited the gardens at Versailles and once worked at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York. On his blog, “A Year in the Garden,’’ he relates his efforts to create a lush green world at his home in Seekonk. Grossman’s debut novel plunges a shy young man who works at a botanic garden into the world of a supernatural being whose home is both refuge and prison.
■ “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan”by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Knopf)
■ “The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, and Life”by Marie Tillman (Grand Central)
■ “The Nazi, the Painter and the Forgotten Story of the SS Road”by G.H. Bennett (Reaktion)
Pick of the week
Mary Toni of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., recommends “The House of Velvet and Glass” by Katherine Howe (Hyperion): “This novel follows Bostonian Sibyl Allston and her attempts to contact through séances and spiritualists her mother and sister, who both perished in the sinking of the Titanic. Sibyl’s emotional journey is touching and magical.”