Sunlight and Sweetness

When my daughter was two, I picked up a copy of Jeffrey Lent’s novel In the Fall in Montpelier’s Bear Pond Books and began reading. My child was on my back, and I stood so long she nudged me with her feet, a way she had of prodding me along when the scenery dulled for her. I bought the book and walked down Main Street, the pages open in my hands.

Reading that novel was like nothing else I encountered. I was scraping and painting the kitchen windows that summer, and I abandoned that work, sitting on the porch steps, reading, reading, while my child ate watermelon, strewing gnawed rinds over the grass. Halfway through the novel, the language became incantatory in my mind, rising and singing. When I finished the book, I studied the paperback cover, pondering the beauty and mysteries of this book, the sheer grace of its enormous hard work. The novel’s ending remains one of my most beloved.

Why I write all this is not just to rave about this novelist (if you haven’t read him, how lucky you are – you can read his books for the first time), but for this:

With vivid and richly textured prose, Brett Ann Stanciu offers unsparing portraits of northern New England life well beyond sight of the ski lodges and postcard views. The work the land demands, the blood ties of family to the land and to each other, the profound solitude that such hard-bitten lives thrusts upon the people, are here in true measure. A moving and evocative tale that will stay with you, Hidden View also provides one of the most compelling and honest rural woman’s viewpoint to come along in years. A novel of singular accomplishment.

–– Jeffrey Lent

Very often a writer’s life is plagued with burrowing doubt and uncertainty, laboring in a society that values tax bracket far above art. And then, sometimes, you feel you might just have hit the mark. Infinite gratitude.

 

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March woodpile, Woodbury, Vermont