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New England Literary News

A debut story collection, a gardening book encourages kids, and more

A new book helps kids develop a relationship to growing things.CitySprouts

Story collection haunted by love and longing

In one of the linked short stories in Courtney Sender’s debut collection “In Other Lifetimes All I’ve Lost Comes Back To Me” (West Virginia University), a couple travels through Germany, looking out across a field from a train: “There would have been sunshine. The pastures then would have sprawled widely as these now, the fences would have been as wooden, the flowers as brightly yellow.” Real life, alive, and in color, the possible-impossibility of it. Sender shifts between stories of love — between lovers, friends, family, ghosts — and the great looming shadow of the Holocaust, making a deep and howling portrait of longing and loneliness. In the title story, all of a woman’s lovers return to her; in another a woman searches in oceans and deserts for her lost love. The thing that is longed for is offered, and Sender raises the good, big question of whether that thing, longed for for so long, can be welcomed in. There is a gaping sense of hunger, particularly in a story of a love between two women, one with a crescent moon tattoo on her chest. The stories have a fable or folktale texture, in their cadences, in the not-quite-real-ness, in the questions of morality and care they raise without trying to answer. “He is dead; you are lost; you can’t tell which of you is more inhuman now. You go to churches, to drug dens, to psychic healers, to lucid dreamers. You meet a tailor with no thumbs . . . You begin to suspect: maybe you are always dreaming.”


CitySprouts gardening book encourages kids to get their hands in the dirt

The Cambridge-based organization CitySprouts works with public elementary schools to deepen kids’ relationship with nature with a hands-on foundation in science. This week marks the publication of a new book based on CitySprouts’s garden-based curriculum. “We Garden Together! Projects for Kids: Learn, Grow, and Connect with Nature” offers a cool range of activities for children ages 3-6, activities that bring a tactile sense of plant life and how to make things grow. Go on worm hunts, make a birdfeeder, plant a salad, grow a bucketful of potatoes, open up fruits and vegetables to examine their seeds. The book gets kids’ hands in the soil, opens their eyes to the living world around them — the trees and flowers in their neighborhoods, the potted gardens on back porches, the vegetables and fruits on their plates, the butterflies and birds — and connects them in a deeper way to lifecycles, growth, and change. And it raises important questions about what living things need to grow and thrive, how living things change over time, and how plants and animals— and us people— are dependent on each other. There’s no too-soon when it comes to forging a relationship with the earth. “A garden,” they write, “is any place where someone is tending and growing things.”


New Auburn bookstore offers books, coffee, and community for kids

Out in Auburn, Massachusetts, near Worcester, a new bookstore has recently opened its doors. Husband-and-wife team Tyler and Courtney Galicia had fantasies of one day opening a bookshop, and made it a reality much sooner than either of them had initially planned, opening A Great Notion to the public last month. Lifelong booklover Tyler works as an English teacher, and Courtney had worked as an adjustment counselor at local high and middle schools and will now work full time at the store. The couple felt the need for a bookstore in the town, and the community was responsive. Besides books, coffee, gifts, and comfy places to sit, the store offers after school book clubs for kids as an alternative to screen-based experiences. Their goal “is to get more of our youth to exchange a scroll for a page turn, to think critically and passionately.” A Great Notion takes its name from Tyler’s favorite book, the Ken Kesey novel “Sometimes a Great Notion,” about a logging family in the Pacific Northwest. A Great Notion is located at 65 Southbridge St, Unit 101, in Auburn.


Coming out

“How To Think Like a Woman: Four Women Philosophers Who Taught Me How To Love the Life of the Mind” by Regan Penaluna (Grove)

“Sentience: The Invention of Consciousness” by Nicholas Humphrey (MIT)

“Still Life with Bones: Genocide, Forensics, and What Remains” by Alexa Hagerty (Crown)

Pick of the week

Alyssa Raymond at Copper Dog Books in Beverly, Massachusetts, recommends “Brutes” by Dizz Tate (Catapult): “An enthralling, kaleidoscopic, and bold vision of girlhood unlike anything I’ve read before. With exhilarating lyricism, a unique ‘we’ perspective, and an atmospheric blend of longing, humor, vulnerability, and beauty, ‘Brutes’ kept me spellbound from start to finish.”