[act-ma] Carolyn Chute at Gulf of Maine Books on November 30

Roger Leisner rleisnerrfm at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 27 15:04:18 PST 2008

Carolyn Chute will do a rare reading/signing to celebrate her new novel "The School on Heart's Content Road" at Gulf of Maine Books at 134 Maine Street in Brunswick on Sunday, November 30 at 1:00 PM
Free and open to the public
For more info: 729-5083

Radio Free Maine audio tapes noted in Carolyn Chute's new novel

Carolyn Chute is an American writer and populist political activist strongly identified with the culture of poor, rural radical Maine.  Chute's first, and best known, novel "The Beans of Egypt, Maine" was published in 1985 to critical acclaim.  Chute's next two books "Letourneau's Used Auto Parts" (1988) and "Merry Men" (1994), are also set in the town of Egypt, Maine.

Her 1999 novel "Snow Man" dealt with the underground militia movement, something that Chute has devoted more of her time to in recent years.  Chute is currently the leader of the Second Maine Militia (as is Roger Leisner), and she speaks publicly about class issues in America.  Chute also publishes "The Fringe", a monthly collection of in-depth political journalism, short stories and intellectual commentary on current events.

Her first novel in ten years returns to Egypt, and is a rousing, politically charged portrait of a group of lives on the margins of our society.  "The School on Heart's Content Road" (Grove/Atlantic, Inc . - November 2008) spirals out from the story of Mickey Gammon, a fifteen-year-old dropout who has been evicted from his home and introduced to the secretive world of the Settlement. 

Run by The Prophet, the Settlement is a rural cooperative in alternative energy, farm produce and locally made goods.  Falsely demonized by the media as a compound of sin, the Settlement’s true nature remains foreign to outsiders.  It is there that Mickey meets another deserted child, six-year-old Jane, whose mother is in jail on trumped-up drug charges. Secret Agent Jane cunningly prowls the Settlement in her heart-shaped sunglasses, imagining that her plans to bring down the community will reunite her with her mother.  As they struggle to adjust to their new, complex surrogate family, Mickey and Jane witness the mounting unrest within the Settlement's ranks, which soon builds to a shocking and devastating crescendo.

The following excerpt is from pages 121-122 of "The School on Heart's Content Road"

"From a future time, Whitney St. Onge remembers the Parlor Night Salons.

Bree and I were both fifteen.  Everyone thought I was smart.  Physics, architecture, anthropology, politics, at least in some humid not-too-academic way, were to me desserts.
But Bree was ancient.  Her face deformed, her brain golden.  Daytimes she still worked in the woods with her brothers and her father.  So we called her Paul Bunyan Woman.  After work, she'd sneak one of their trucks and whiz up here to the Settlement, driver's license-free, sawdust in her cuffs.  And sometimes oil paints and ink on her hands, for she was an artist with no boundaries.  Our salons began to wheel in high gear around that head of scarlet hair.
One night I especially recall, it was deep summer.  She arrived late, her arms loaded with newsletters and hurried notes, her research.
It was damp in the West Parlor.  Maybe not the most horrible hot, but that stuffy-clammy that makes the cedar ceiling pour out a prehistoric smell, as my mother called it.
We older girls, the most devoted salonites, were hunched on the rugs digging through a box of Radio Free Maine audio tapes that belonged to our devout leftist, Nathan Knapp who, in his black waleless corduroy jacket and combed-wet dark hair, sat on one of the big couches, his dark-brown eyes level on everything.  He was near Gordon's age, late thirties or so.
Our library had a stash of more such tapes, and Bree was sending away for further selections with her logger money.  There were enough of these tapes lectures to last a lifetime.  And some you'd have to play three times or keep backing up so you could unravel all the Chomsky clauses, especially for Samantha and some of the others who would listen with such a toothache-looking squint."


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