Phil Crossman’s books take you to Vinalhaven

            Vinalhaven is a special island off the coast of Maine, and if you’ve never been there, Phil Crossman’s books will take you there.

            I was excited to learn that Phil had written a book of his columns about life on Vinalhaven, As the Crow Flies, published by Maine Authors Publishing. But while I was ordering up a copy of that book, I discovered that Phil had another book published in 2005, titled Away Happens.

            I always enjoy Phil’s columns in the Island Institute’s publications, which he has written for 30 years. So I obtained both of his books and raced through them. In his new book, Phil writes, “I enjoy writing about Vinalhaven, this island, this tiny piece of the world I live in, about it’s environment, the others with whom I share it, and our relationship to the bigger picture and our prospects.”

            And he notes, “I’m likely to see the potential for humor in nearly everything.” That is really in understatement, because lots of the columns are very funny. But some are serious, including the last column in his new book in which he shares his frustration with politics today, something that I share with Phil.

            In both books you’ll read statements of praise from well-known people. I especially like this one at the front of his new book, written by Tom Groening of the Island Institute: Phil Crossman is both wise and a wiseass. His wit can puncture pretense, but he also cares deeply for his fellow islanders and can render their humanity as well as anyone. He readily sees the absurdity and finds humor in others, but he reserves his sharpest barbs for himself. In short, he’s a first-class commentator, and you’ll find all of this and more in his writing, which is why he has a loyal following that spans the Maine coast and beyond.

            I guess I’m a member of the loyal following of Phil’s, and you will be too once you open and start reading one of these books. And you may even start planning a trip to Vinalhaven to experience it for yourself.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.