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NEW ENGLAND LITERARY NEWS

All She Wrote Books set to reopen in East Somerville; new book of portraits brings dignity to those afflicted by Alzheimer’s; Letters About Literature program opens on October 2

Edwina Frank (left) and Charles Hess from Joe Wallace’s book “The Day After Yesterday: Resilience in the Face of Dementia.”JOE WALLACE

All She Wrote Books to reopen in East Somerville

In 2019, Christina Pascucci-Ciampa started All She Wrote Books, focusing on work by female, queer, and non-binary authors. It was a pop-up store at first, then took up brick-and-mortar residence in Somerville’s Assembly Square in July of 2020. But the women-owned, queer-owned independent bookstore is being ousted from that home. Over the past three years, rent has increased 130%, Pascucci-Ciampa reports, and that, in addition to unexpected flooding and HVAC costs, is forcing the store into a new space. Which they’ve been fortunate to find. The shop will be moving to a spot in East Somerville, and is working to raise funds to make the move feasible, with money going towards updating the bookshelves in the new space, building a check-out counter, implementing accessibility features, and paying the staff a fair wage during the transition stage. They’ll have less operating space and will be re-imagining how best to operate. They’re trying to raise $60,000 before their lease starts on October 15. “We love this community and are committed to serving it with the passion and warmth you’ve come to expect from us,” writes Ciampa. “That’s not changing just because our address is.” The new address is 75 Washington Street, in Somerville. For more information, and to donate, visit givebutter.com/allshewrotebks.

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New book of portraits brings dignity to those afflicted by Alzheimer’s

A taboo surrounds dementia and Alzheimer’s, a cloud of fear and misunderstanding that distances people from those with the disease, relegates them as gone, lost, other. “The Day After Yesterday: Resilience in the Face of Dementia” (MIT), a new book of photographs by journalist and photographer Joe Wallace, aims to destigmatize the people living with dementia by telling “a more complex and complete story.” The book includes dozens of portraits and short written bios and descriptions of Wallace’s encounters with the subjects. The range of ages is striking: people in their 30s, having inherited a mutation that brings Alzheimer’s to them early, all the way to age 100. “It doesn’t matter how far gone they are into the disease,” says Daisy Duarte, who’s guaranteed to have it by age 65. “They still have ears, and they still have a beating heart.” That beating heart, that vitality, and life-force, is present in all of Wallace’s portraits. Alan O’Hare, of Dorchester, speaks of learning to have patience with yourself, and asking questions that ground you in the now: “What is it in this moment that you treasure? What is it about you that you treasure in this moment? Can you remember what you love about you? What do you love about right here, right now?” These photographs and words underline not just the fear and despair, because those are real, but the dignity and the humanity of people with the disease. In each image, one can see the burning twinkle behind the eyes that shows, I’m here, I’m here.

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Letters About Literature program opens on Oct. 2

As part of Massachusetts Center for the Book’s Letters About Literature program, students in Massachusetts in grades 4-12 are invited to read a book, any book they choose, and write a letter to its author, reflecting on the book and detailing the impact it had on them. The program, which has been running for over two decades, encourages students to consider how books can alter the way they move through the world, deepen or shift their perspective, reflect back something about themselves; and then to engage with the author about it. Students can select works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or drama, and the author can be working right now, or dead. Mass Center for the Book reminds entrants that the goal is not to flatter the author — it’s not meant to be gushy fan mail — or to regurgitate to the author plot points or summary. More, it’s meant to articulate the student’s individual reaction to the book, and why they felt a connection. They suggest letters be between 200 and 750 words. Submissions open on Oct. 2 and close on Jan. 18. For more information and to submit, visit massbook.org/letters-about-literature.

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Coming out

“The Maniac” by Benjamín Labatut (Penguin)

“Nefandoby Mónica Ojeda, translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker (Coffee House)

“Our Strangers” by Lydia Davis (Bookshop Editions)

Pick of the week

Geri Zeller of Island Books in Middletown, R.I., recommends “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell (Vintage): “Don’t be intimidated by the title. You do not need to be a student of Shakespeare’s work to enjoy this book. Based on historical facts, this is the story of William Shakespeare’s wife and children. While he was creating his famous works, a plague hit the small village where his young son Hamnet and twin sister were living with their mother. This is their deeply moving story, not to be missed.”

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