new england literary news | nina maclaughlin

Maine lobsters, Vermont hippies, and a prom for readers

Goddard College students pictured near Northwood dorm  in 1971.
Keith Thompson; courtesy of Goddard College Archives
Goddard College students pictured near Northwood dorm in 1971.

Lobsters, hippies, and a prison love-story

Three books with New England roots come out this week, dealing with lobsters, hippies, and a fictional convict and the prison psychologist who used to love her. InThe Last Lobster: Boom or Bust for Maine’s Greatest Fishery?’’ (St. Martin’s), Christopher White dives into the lobstering boom that’s taken place over the past five years, with a harvest in 2013 of nearly 128 million pounds. That’s six times the haul in the late 1980s, and White asks what’s causing it (possible answers: global warming, lack of predators), and wonders how long it can last.

A Melrose native who now lives in Vermont, Yvonne Daley tracks a different sort of boom in her book Going Up the Country: When the Hippies, Dreamers, Freaks, and Radicals Moved to Vermont’’ (University Press of New England). Daley argues that Vermont’s counterculture — its communes, its ice cream, its drugs, its politics — has had a vast impact on the culture of the country writ large. On June 7 at 6:30 pm, she’ll discuss her book at the Vermont Farmers Food Center in Rutland, Vt.

In Debra Jo Immergut’s debut novel, The Captives’’ (Ecco), a woman finds herself in jail for a violent crime, with a prison psychologist who was obsessed with her in high school. Immergut, who lives in Northampton and has spent time working in prisons, published a book of short stories over 25 years ago. She’ll be reading with Edie Meidav on June 6 at Broadside Books in Northampton.

Reader Prom and Book Drive


Porter Square Books is hosting its first annual Reader Prom and Book Drive, inviting people to don their finest prom-wear and bring a book to donate to Harvard Square’s Y2Y homeless shelter. The event will feature all the usual accoutrements of a prom: dancing, snacking, drinking, prom pictures, the crowning of a king and queen, sort of (in this case a randomly selected author and illustrator), and chaperones including Celeste Ng, Krysten Hill, and Raul the Third. Tickets are between $35 and $100, and all proceeds benefit the nonprofit Porter Square Books Foundation, which works to foster a love of reading among children and families through author visits to schools and book giveaways. The literary soiree will take place June 9 at 7:30 pm at the George Dilboy VFW in Somerville.

Chautauqua Prize winner

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Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s haunting and powerful true-crime memoir, The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir’’ (Flatiron), recently won this year’s Chautauqua Prize, which honors fiction or nonfiction “that provides a richly rewarding reading experience,” valuing the author’s “significant contribution to the literary arts.” The prize includes a $7,500 purse and an expenses-paid spot at the summer residency program at the Chautauqua Institution. The nonprofit education center and resort in upstate New York promotes “excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.”

Coming out

If They Come for Us’’by Fatimah Asghar (One World)

The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities’’ by Wayne Kramer (Da Capo)

Invitation to a Bonfire’’by Adrienne Celt (Bloomsbury)

Pick of the week


Ellyne Raeuber at the Book Loft in Great Barrington recommends I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell’’ (Knopf): “We’ve all had a glimpse of our mortality, but O’Farrell’s 17 essays, all brushes with death and each related to a body part, serve more than a reminder of those moments. A successful novelist, O’Farrell here becomes a lyrical writer of her own life, a life lived in danger as well as in the mundane every day. She makes it all important and we come out the wiser for having read about a precious life, or how precious life is.”

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Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter.” She can be reached at