Misty Valley Books' 16th annual New Voices, a free showcase of new authors, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. in the First Universalist Church in Chester's Stone Village.
Yearly, the Chester bookstore invites new talents from around the country whose work is promising to share their first books with Vermont audiences.
Past New Voices have included Gregory Maguire (Wicked), Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha), Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), Claire Messud (The Emperor's Children) and nearly 100 others.
After the session, the public is invited to a reception put on by the Church and a book signing.
The public can also cross country ski or snowshoe with the authors Saturday morning at Grafton Ponds at 9:30 (www. graftonponds.com) and wine-and cheese (5:45) and dine (6:30) with them at the Fullerton Inn on the Green next to Misty Valley Books Saturday evening (call the Inn at 875-2444 for reservations and prices).
The first to present her work will be Deborah Copaken Kogan. Kogan is a veteran photojournalist, who has covered wars in the Middle East and the Balkans. Her first novel, Between Here and April (Algonquin), attempts a heart-wrenching answer to the question, "How could a mother kill her children?"
When a deep-rooted memory suddenly surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a 35-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child -shocking revelations about April's mother, Adele. Elizabeth, now herself a mother, tracks down the people who knew Adele Cassidy and who thought that they knew what was going through her mind before she committed that most incomprehensible of crimes. Elizabeth comes finally to a fearsome reckoning with what it means to be a wife and mother. She lives with her family in New York City. Nancy Pennell of Chester will introduce her.
Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Angela's Ashes Frank McCourt had this to say of Elena Gorokhova's fascinating memoir, A Mountain of Crumbs (Simon and Schuster): "What is it about A Mountain of Crumbs that makes it so damn readable? Is it the setting - the Soviet Union in the second half of the last century on the verge of disintegration? Is it the author's way with the English language - her second language?
Elena Gorokhova deftly moves us from the intimacies of family life to school, to university, to various bureaucracies with exposure along the way to ballet and theater. This is a rich experience - a personal journey paralleled by huge national changes and ending in a deeply satisfying portrait of peace in America.
Those who have traveled from another place to America will find themselves in this rich memoir. Yes, rich is the word I've been groping for: Rich."
James Landis writes in his thought-provoking The Last Day (Steerforth): I'm on the beach, but I don't know how I got here. My mind is as dark as the night. . . . I spend the whole night on the beach. But when the sun's faint light begins to bend around the Earth, I see him. . . . There, coming toward me, out of the light, is a man. . . . Behind the man a faint curtain of light rises to the sky out of the ocean. He wears the light like a robe, though I see he's dressed like me. Jeans and a T-shirt, no shoes. And that he's older than I am, a lot older, maybe mid-thirties. He walks right toward me. He walks right into my eyes.
So begins the spellbinding story of Warren Harlan Pease, a young U.S. Army sniper freshly returned from the Iraq War to his native New Hampshire.
What follows is a page-turning adventure that is also a powerful meditation on religion and war, love and loss. This extraordinary work of compassion and healing grace combines the themes of religion, war and poetry in a way that is wholly original, and unforgettable. It will resonate with skeptics and believers, be shared and discussed between friends and among families.
James Landis, a former editor at HarperCollins, lives in New Hampshire. Dr. Jerry Brophy of Chester and Boston will introduce Landis.
Heidi Durrow is the author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (Algonquin), a novel that tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. With her strict African-American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring mixed attention her way.
Growing up in the 1980's, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white.
Meanwhile, a mystery unfolds, revealing the terrible truth about Rachel's last morning on a Chicago rooftop. Interwoven are the voices of Jamie, a neighborhood boy who witnessed the event, and Laronne, a friend of Rachel's mother. Inspired by a true story of a mother's twisted love, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky reveals an unfathomable past and explores issues of identity at a time when many people are asking "must race confine us and define us?
Who wants to catch a thief when he's as endearing as Martin Railsback, the oddball hero of Matthew Dicks's novel, Something Mis ing (Doubleday). Martin is, after all, prone to rob people of items they'll never miss (a bar of soap, a few sticks of butter, the odd diamond) as a way of getting to know them.
Despite his obsessive-compulsive work ethic, Martin is not a mean thief--in fact, he develops a real fondness for some of his "clients", those couples whose homes he has burgled for small items over and over again for almost a decade. His success is based on a precise and unflagging attention to details as well as a keen knowledge of his targets' schedules, work situations and appointments.
This information affords Martin unnoticed access to their homes, access that is planned out and timed to the second--his watch's buzzer tells him when he has less than 30 seconds left in a particular house. When he begins to think of himself as his clients' guardian angel, conscience rears its ugly head.
All the New Voices 2010 books are available at Misty Valley Books, with the set of all five at a 20 percent discount.
For more information, call Misty Valley Books at 875-3400 or visit www.mvbooks.com.