fb-pixel Skip to main content

Vineyard Book Festival expands

An image from “Living Off the Sea,” a boy enjoys the sea and sun.

Bigger than ever

Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of “60 Minutes,” met the woman he married when they were both fresh out of college, working at WBZ-TV in Boston. Melinda Fager was a graphic designer and, Jeff was — if you can believe it now — a gofer who delivered graphics to the studio. The couple honeymooned on Chappaquiddick and got hooked, returning every year.

Fast-forward 30 years to Melinda Fager’s new book “Living Off the Sea: On the Island of Chappaquiddick” (Vineyard Stories). You won’t find the secret of Jeff Fager’s success, but you will learn about what he loves to do in his off hours: fish and cook up his catch. Melinda’s photographs capture the island’s beauty and are a mouthwatering complement to the two dozen recipes scattered throughout the book. Essays by Melinda, the couple’s children, and Brad Woodger, a columnist for the Vineyard Gazette, celebrate the joys of taking the three-car ferry from Edgartown to Chappaquiddick, slowing down, and navigating Chappy without a GPS. As for the recipes, the main ingredients are bluefish and blueberries. There are recipes for bluefish hash, smoked bluefish, blue dogs, bluefish-stuffed grape leaves, whole grilled bluefish, bluefish and chips, and blueberry bread, pancakes, pie, and a blueberry vodka tonic.

Melinda Fager is among the more than 30 authors who will be appearing at the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival, which this year is expanding to two days, Aug. 3-4, and two venues. The focus during the second day will be on panel discussions on subjects such as Boston gang culture in the days of Whitey Bulger and married life as depicted in novels.


Melinda Fager’s daughter, Charlotte, hangs off the jeep as the dog, Max, follows. Melinda Fager

Festival founder Suellen Lazarus works closely with the staff at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven on the biennial festival. In an e-mail, she wrote, “We look for quirky, interesting, topical subjects. We know authors like to come to the island in August and we start inviting. We are often surprised to find that they may be coming to the island anyway, or are looking for a good reason to come.”


This year’s lineup features Tom Reiss, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for his biography, “The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo” (Crown). His in-laws have a place on the Vineyard. Novelist Adam Mansbach, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., also has family on the island. Karl Marx biographer Jonathan Sperber will be coming in from Columbia, Mo., but most authors will be arriving from New York and elsewhere in Massachusetts. Full-time Vineyard residents Tony Horwitz, Ward Just, Rose Styron, and Laura Wainwright will round out the schedule. Just, no doubt, will manage to put in a good word for Bunch of Grapes, the subject of his love letter in “My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read and Shop” (Black Dog & Leventhal).

Coming Out

■  “A Treacherous Paradise” by Henning Mankell, translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson (Knopf)

■  “To America with Love” by A.A. Gill (Simon & Schuster)

■  “I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)” by Chuck Klosterman (Scribner)

Pick of the Week

Josh Cook of Porter Square Books in Cambridge recommends “In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods” by Matt Bell (Soho): “This excellent debut novel is a modern folk tale of opposing elements: lake and dirt, bear and squid, song and ghost. The unnamed narrator strives for the woman he loves and the family life he wants against forces vastly more powerful than he could ever hope to be.”


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