Rhode Island bookstore offers holiday gift to support Indigenous author and museum
The woman-owned Ink Fish Books in Warren, R.I., has a holiday offering that celebrates both the Ocean State and Indigenous authors and makers. The Rhody Reader Box includes a signed copy of local author Vanessa Lillie’s “Blood Sisters” (Berkley). Lillie is an enrolled citizen of Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the thriller follows a Cherokee archeologist who returns to Oklahoma to investigate the disappearance of two women. The box also includes a hand-poured sandalwood candle from Juniper Hill Apothecary in Bristol, R.I.; a bookmark designed and beaded by Cherokee artists; a necklace made by Cherokee Copper, a family of Cherokee artists based in Oklahoma; a bar of vegan soup from Freya Soapworks in Lincoln, R.I.; and a map of northeastern Oklahoma and tribal nation borders to augment “Blood Sisters.” Money from the boxes supports the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, R.I., which educates people on Indigenous cultures in Southern New England in an effort to “reconcile the past and empower present and future generations.” Boxes are $74.99. For more information, and to order, visit inkfishbooks.com.
New book presents portrait of Bangor during a decade of change
A new collection of photographs makes a portrait of a New England city at a crossroads. Bangor was a longtime lumber hub, and a decades-long push for “urban renewal” in the ‘60s and ‘70s had a disastrous and dulling effect on the city: acres of houses and buildings were torn down and replaced with parking lots, soulless office buildings, or simply left as vacant scars. The Maine city has been re-finding itself since. In “Downtown, Up River: Bangor in the 1970s” (Islandport), Bangor Daily News reporter Emily Stoddard Burnham has gathered photographs of the city from the newspaper’s archives that reveal the push-and-pull of that transitional decade. It used to have a red-light district, where lumberjacks, sex workers, and artists “caroused and created,” writes Burnham. And hundreds of years before that, “Indigenous people named each bend in the river and rise in the landscape.” It’s a city where past and present live shoulder to shoulder, sometimes companionably, sometimes shoving, with an “odd mixture of high and low.” The photographs show poof-haired glamor at the hair salon, a man rescuing a kitten from a stream, longhairs with guitars in West Market Square, kids catching snowflakes on their tongues. There’s the coiffed and buttoned-up alongside the mini-skirted and commune-living. Shovels, snow boots, bridges and buildings, side streets and supermarkets, kite-flying, park concerts, schooners, canoes, steeples, and lumberjacks swinging axes. The book shows a changing city, and how those changes continue today.
Purple Couch Bookshop opens in North Andover
A new independent bookstore has opened its doors in North Andover. Owner Katie Keisling spent a quarter century doing software work for hotels and events and the work took her around the world. When she started longing for more time with her family, the plans for a bookshop began to take shape. The Purple Couch Bookshop, which opened last month, carries a huge selection of children’s books, speaking to the large community of young kids in the area, as well as adult titles, and they’ve already started an events series, with more to come, including a weekly storytime on Tuesday mornings. Besides books, the store also aims to share and support local talent and foster creativity by showcasing and selling work by both authors and artisans from the Merrimack Valley. The titular couch sits at the front of the store, a van bench refurbished by Keisling’s brother-in-law, and Keisling hopes people will come and feel they can linger, sit, browse, read, and explore. The Purple Couch Bookshop is located at 350 Winthrop Ave. in North Andover. Visit purplecouchbookshop.com for more information.
“Alice Sadie Celine” by Sarah Blakely-Cartwright (Simon & Schuster)
“Zero at the Bone: Fifty Entries Against Despair” by Christian Wiman (FSG)
“Orbital” by Samantha Harvey (Atlantic Monthly)
Pick of the Week
Evie at Papercuts in Jamaica Plain recommends “Relentless Melt” by Jeremy P. Bushnell (Melville House): “A new novel from Boston’s own purveyor of magical clap-trap, Jeremy Bushnell. This book has it all: 1900s Boston, intrigue, disguises, transgender themes, and a kindly professor-type.”