You may be an obsessive reader like me, toting books to your deer stand, reading the newspaper in your turkey blind. Or you may be a casual reader who borrows a couple of novels from the local library for summer vacation reading.
No matter where you fall on the reader scale, you’re probably going to read a book this month (I hope!). Since retiring from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time, I’ve started writing book reviews – and receiving a lot of books by Maine authors or about Maine.
Here are a few books I strongly recommend for your August reading. You can read my reviews of these books and others at www.georgesmithmaine.com.
Paul Fournier’s Tales from Misery Ridge, (Islandport Press, 2011) covers a lifetime of outdoor adventures from rampaging bears to giant brook trout and bush flying to treks down the Allagash. I doubt that you will set this book aside after you begin reading. Fournier’s life experiences are many and varied, from sporting camp owner and guide to bush pilot to his 20-year stint as public information officer for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, from 1980 to 2000.
“From the serious – tracking a murderer – to the sublime – raising a baby owl – retired Maine
Game Warden John Ford shares 35 years of his best stories that will entertain all indoor and outdoor adventurers.”
Those are the words I used on the back cover promo to describe retired Maine game warden John Ford’s wonderful book, Suddenly the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good, published recently by Islandport Press. The very first story in the book is one of the funniest you will ever read, titled “Just Dropping In, Ladies.” I read it to my wife Linda, and we were both gasping for breath we were laughing so hard. I’m not going to spoil it by telling you the story, or any of these stories. Every one is priceless.
Paul Doiron’s third novel, Bad Little Falls, continues to focus on the adventures of a Maine game warden. If you didn’t read the first two novels in this series, you should begin with book one, The Poacher’s Son, then proceed to book two, Trespasser, and finish your summer vacation with Bad Little Falls.
Doiron, the editor of Down East magazine, is a terrific writer. In Bad Little Falls, he tackles a couple of issues that may rankle in some quarters. The story is set in Washington County and his portrayal of the people there is harsh: lots of drug and alcohol problems, poverty, unhealthy lifestyles, trashy trailers, wild and crazy ATV and snowmobile riding, and poaching. OK, sounds like the Maine Wardens’ TV show on Animal Planet. Doiron’s portrayal might be accurate, but it hurts!
Finally, Monica Wood’s memoir of growing up in Mexico, Maine is a must-read. When We Were the Kennedys, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is an extraordinary, powerful, and moving memoir of her close Irish Catholic immigrant family and life in a one-mill town.
Monica’s Dad dropped dead on his way to work at the Oxford Paper Company, or as they called it, “The Oxford,” the mill that dominated Rumford and Mexico as the principle employer in the 1960s. Monica was nine years old. And this is where her memoir begins.
This heart-wrenching, emotional, sometimes funny, oftentimes astonishing, and always compelling story is far better than the best novel – and not just because it’s a true story. It is a powerful story, a story that may be familiar to those who grew up in one-mill Maine towns, but not as well known to the rest of us.
You will find yourself pausing, rereading entire paragraphs, and thinking about what you’ve read – perhaps stirring memories of your own Mexico.