Table Talk about Books

Photo copyright by Meredith Rutter (not taken in Maine, but pretty, no?)

My husband and I had a wonderful dinner with friends the other night at Ports of Italy restaurant in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The weather had turned summerlike for a few days, and we were thrilled to be given an outdoor table overlooking Commercial Street on this, one of the last nights the town would be catering to the general public before closing most places for the season. (This isn’t as big a draw for foliage as inland towns.)

The conversation turned to books, of course. I was giving back a book that one of these friends had recommended to me when I said I was working on creating a sense of place in the novel I’m writing. Her recommendation was Amagansett, a 2004 murder mystery by Mike Mills, set in 1947 Long Island. She was so right, and I got a great feel for how an author can make sense-of-place a major element of a book. My own novel will not be tied into place to that degree, but at least now I understand how to draw a reader in, in that regard, when it helps the story. If you’re into stories that revolve around the seacoast, fishing, history, and economic classes, this is a book not to miss.

Another book recommendation came from Gary, my husband, who recently finished The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (2007). BusinessWeek said, “A refreshing, and oddly hopeful, look at the fate of the environment.”  Time said, “Grandly entertaining.” I think I’m going to have to put it on my to-read list, which will please and amaze Gary.

Another book discussed was my family memoir, The Cleveland Rutters, which one of these friends had recently finished reading and truly enjoyed—thought anyone would whether they knew someone in the family or not. She called it “paradigmatic” of the times (growing up in the 1950s-60s). I’ve been hearing this from others—without the lovely big word she put on it. From her mouth to 100,000 readers’ ears. I never intended for the book to go mainstream, but it’s such a pleasure to hear good words on it.

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