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new england literary news

Ralph Waldo Emerson takes flight

An illustration by Edwin Fotheringham from “A Home for Mr. Emerson.”

An illustration by Edwin Fotheringham from “A Home for Mr. Emerson.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson takes flight

Ralph Waldo Emerson flies through the air on his super-sized journal in the new picture book “A Home for Mr. Emerson” (Scholastic). Author Barbara Kerley and illustrator Edwin Fotheringham, who have teamed up on other biographies for children, present Emerson as a sociable home body, book lover, and independent thinker who calls his journals a “Savings Bank” for his ideas. As much as Emerson enjoys sitting in his Concord study surrounded by his books, he loves going about town and catching up with folks. When a fire tears through his home, he’s so demoralized that he takes off on a trip. Townspeople set to work getting his house in order and turn out in force for his homecoming.

The story of maple syrup

From beekeepers to fishermen to boat builders to a country veterinarian, Douglas Whynott has written a series of books about people whose work is tied to the land — or sea. His new book is “The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family’s Quest for the Sweetest Harvest” (DaCapo). Whynott followed Bruce Bascom, whose family has been producing maple syrup since 1853, through the tumultuous 2012 season and a heat wave in March that made the record books. Bascom Maple Farms in New Hampshire is part of a multimillion-dollar industry threatened by global warming. Whynott, who teaches writing at Emerson College, offers scores of statistics while keeping his narrative focused squarely on the people who labor in the sugarhouses that dot the New England landscape.

Voice Male anthology

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For more than 30 years, Voice Male, a newsletter that evolved into a magazine, has published personal essays and articles about domestic violence, sexism, sexual abuse, masculinity, and fathering. Now longtime editor and publisher Rob A. Okun has put together the anthology “Voice Male: The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement” (Interlink). Many of the writers have been associated with Amherst-based Men’s Resource Center for Change, one of the oldest men’s centers in the nation, but the collection has some star power, too, namely Jane Fonda and Eve Ensler, who wrote “The Vagina Monologues.”

In an introductory chapter, Okun chronicles how the men’s movement developed out of the women’s movement four decades ago. He writes, “Profeminist men hold the simple ‘radical’ belief that gender and sexual equality are fundamental democratic goals and that women and men should each have the same rights and opportunities.”

The most provocative section focuses on the 2012 mass murder of children in Newtown, Conn. Writers ask questions about how the media framed the story: Why do so few people draw attention to the fact that 90 percent of the mass school shootings in the nation in the last 30 years were perpetrated by white men? Why isn’t there a national conversation about the link between men and violence and how boys can be raised differently?

Coming out

 “Stone Cold” by C.J. Box (Putnam)

 “The Blazing World”by Siri Hustvedt (Simon & Schuster )

 “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding The One”by Susan Patton (Gallery)

Pick of the week

Liberty Hardy of RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, N.H., recommends “The Weirdness” by Jeremy P. Bushnell (Melville House): “If the Devil wanted to make a deal with you but he really wasn’t such a bad guy and he needed help saving the planet, would you agree? If you’re aspiring novelist Billy Ridgeway, of course you would. Bushnell does a hilariously great job constructing a contemporary tale of moral and spiritual dilemmas, and expertly describes the ego and nuances of a struggling writer — a whole other kind of demon!”

Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.
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