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Page 32: Short Takes on Five Vermont Books

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Seven Days writers can't possibly read, much less review, all the books that arrive in a steady stream by post, email and, in one memorable case, a blush of spring robins. So this monthly feature is our way of introducing you to a handful of books by Vermont authors. To do that, we contextualize each book just a little and quote a single representative sentence from, yes, page 32.

The Vermont Ghost Guide: A Second Conjuring

Joseph A. Citro, illustrations by Robert W. Brunelle Jr., Eerie Lights Publishing, 212 pages. $19.95.
Supposedly her corpse was stolen by medical students and partially dissected.

With many a spooky novel and folklore collection to his name — including a previous Ghost Guide with drawings by Stephen R. Bissette — Joe Citro is the state's preeminent purveyor of all things mysterious. Artist Robert W. Brunelle Jr. illustrates this iteration, and, given the colorful tales, one wishes the drawings weren't limited to black-and-white.

Citro's "gazetteer of Vermont's haunts" is presented alphabetically by town, from Albany to Woodstock. We learn about the unruly "guests" at an Alburgh inn, a basketball that dribbles itself in the Brigham Academy gym, a glowing orb in Fairfield that seems "intelligent," the "projection" of an old man at the Welden Theatre in St. Albans, an Indigenous caretaker spirit at the old Swanton fish hatchery, decidedly unpleasant goings-on at Whitingham's Sawyer Mansion, and more. Anyone who attends or works at the University of Vermont might appreciate the appendix listing 24 ghostly sites around campus. Or not.

— P.P.

Gray Candy

Jason Price Everett, Ra Press, 144 pages. $12.
As a solitary ant / Crawled up / And around / And around it. // Never stopping / In its passage.

Jason Price Everett's poetry begs to be read aloud. It's no surprise to see the Burlington resident, whose neo-beat verse has appeared in numerous collections and journals, showing up in a 2019 Seven Days story about the open mic at Burlington's Light Club Lamp Shop. Writer Bridget Higdon described him as reading "with the strong voice of a seasoned poet."

That seasoning is also apparent in Gray Candy, a collection published by South Burlington's Ra Press. Everett's short, punchy lines use meter and intermittent rhyme with assurance. Grouped in sections that are titled only with typographical symbols, his stream-of-consciousness verse suggests the monologue of a jaded street huckster having an existential crisis. Goddesses and gutter wenches flit through surreal landscapes, occasioning erudite references and wordplay ("Thanks for the / Mammaries"). At one point, Everett reflects: "And if both life / And art have fled / ... / What then?" He offers no answers, only an infectious rhythm.

— M.H.

The House That Holds

Buff Lindau, Onion River Press, 188 pages. $13.99.
And now this one's green eyes, / leaving too.

Buff Lindau's collection of poetry, The House That Holds, is like a photo album, each poem serving to immortalize a moment of what she calls "the twists of family life." In our page 32 quote, it's a son leaving the nest. Other poems chronicle bear encounters, colicky babies, wisteria blooms and Red Sox games. There's even a piece about the Northeast Kingdom's Bread and Puppet Theater.

In a later section of the book called "Poems for Our Climate," Lindau contemplates "the disappearance of the world / we lucky oldsters have enjoyed / while wreaking a legacy of damage / on our singular planet Earth." She draws contrasts between the beauty of her Vermont garden and the horror of global climate catastrophes, acknowledging the tension and guilt caused by these disparities.

Whether the subject is serious or lighthearted, Lindau's writing is always approachable. Now retired after a long career as the spokesperson for Saint Michael's College, she provides a collection full of nostalgia, celebration and love.

— M.G.

The Authors of This Dream: Edge of the Known: Book I

Seth Mullins, Books Fluent, 360 pages. $12.
Then we entered what we came to call "the Catacombs."

Brandon Chane is a talented musician and poet. But he's as quick to anger as he is with a riff or couplet. One night, a fight outside a club leaves him on the edge of death and searching for ways to stop his life from spiraling. Throwing himself into his music and poetry is not enough. So with the aid of a shamanistic mentor, crisis counselor Saul Mason, Chane begins a journey of self-discovery and awakening in The Authors of This Dream, the first installment of Seth Mullins' Edge of the Known series.

Like his main character, Mullins is a musician and poet, though he is not a pugilistic hothead. And his latest book sings with hard-earned authenticity. The Vermont writer leans on his own artistic experiences and spiritual odyssey, as well as on the biographies of rock luminaries from Jim Morrison to Kurt Cobain, to craft a redemptive tale with a metaphysical soul and a rock-and-roll heart.

—D.B.

A Red Dress: Murder in the Green Mountain State

G.L. Taylor, BookBaby, 122 pages. $13.95.
Life has taught me that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

The photo of a vacant swing set on the cover of A Red Dress: Murder in the Green Mountain State is reminiscent of the grainy black-and-white stills in the "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" intro.

What readers find inside is just as gruesome and gripping as a case assigned to Detectives Benson and Stabler. Penned by former detective G.L Taylor, A Red Dress is a work of historical fiction based on an actual crime committed in 1981 that led Vermont lawmakers to pass new and tougher juvenile crime laws. The self-published novel follows ambitious Detective Ben Fields — a fictional stand-in for the author — as he investigates a brutal attack on two 12-year-old girls in a rural park. One victim is left dead, the other severely injured.

Taylor's writing is more straightforward than elegant, perhaps from decades of drafting police reports. True-crime junkies looking for their next binge may be in luck with this short and easy read.

– K.R.