“We were standing where there was a fine view of the harbor and its long stretches of shore all covered by the great army of the pointed firs, darkly cloaked and standing as if they waited to embark. As we looked far seaward among the outer islands, the trees seemed to march seaward still, going steadily over the heights and down to the water’s edge.“
Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs
Maine is still a country of pointed firs, over 150 years after Sarah Orne Jewett scribed those words in her white clapboard house overlooking South Berwick’s town square. The state’s infinite beauty and stalwart people have inspired storytellers and writers for hundreds of years.
The first great characters emerged from the stories of the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederation; greatest among these stories are those of Gluskap. Since then, Maine has continued to produce writers who transport us to other times and places as well as induce us to contemplate the universal motivations, emotions, and conflicts that shape our lives.
Indeed, it is possible to plan a literary tour of Maine. Here is a screen shot of the interactive Literary Map of Maine available online. Click here to go live!
Maine’s literary heritage stretches from the islands off Kittery all the way to our northern border with Canada. There are lots of options for exploring Maine through its authors—the 20th century, horror, the classics, or historical and scientific perspectives—there’s something for everyone.
Such a dilemma – where to begin one’s Maine literary adventure!?! It can be overwhelming to choose among so many great authors. So…BoomerTECH Adventures went looking for some expert advice, and we found Bill Bushnell.
Bill, a resident of Harpswell, is a retired Marine Corps colonel, and has been a professional book reviewer for twenty years, publishing more than 2300 book reviews in 35 magazines and newspapers. He reviews fiction and non-fiction, everything from history, biographies, science, nature, and current issues to westerns, mysteries, historical and contemporary fiction, and children’s books. His reviews have appeared in Library Journal, Maine Times, Civil War magazine, Military History magazine, the Maine Sunday Telegram, the Brunswick Times Record, and the Sun newspapers. He currently writes regular monthly and bi-weekly review columns for three Maine newspapers (Kennebec Journal, Central Maine Morning Sentinel, New MaineTimes) and two national magazines (Publishers Weekly and Military Officer).
He has put together for our readers a list of some of his favorite contemporary Maine authors. Including fiction and non-fiction, serious and laughter-filled, and a multitude of mystery writers, this is a list you want to keep in your pocket or on your digital device so when you need a new book you have suggestions close at hand.
Below is a sampling from his list; download the entire list as a pdf (readable on any digital device) by clicking BILL BUSHNELL’s Short List of Authors.
“BILL BUSHNELL’S SHORT LIST OF SOME MAINE AUTHORS WORTH NOTING”
This is a deliberate short list of Maine authors worth reading, prepared by book reviewer Bill Bushnell who has read and reviewed some, all, or just one of the books by these folks.
Mystery – Amateur Sleuth (by author – sleuth)
Gritty amateur sleuths (expect some violence and blood spatter)
Paul Doiron – game warden
Julia Spencer Fleming – Episcopal priest
Gerry Boyle – newspaper reporter
“Cozy” Mysteries (with little violence, no gore)
Vicki Doudera – real estate agent
Karen McInerney – Innkeeper
B.B. Hayword (husband/wife team, Beth and Robert Freeman) – blueberry farmer
Kate Flora – Portland homicide detective Joe Burgess
Tess Gerritsen – Rizzoli and Isles series
James Hayman – homicide detective team
Funny Authors (Humor is underrated and under appreciated, deserving of recognition)
Cathie Pelletier – one of America’s premier “comic novelist”
Van Reid – Moose Path League series of the 1890’s bumbling gentlemen who solve thorny problems with good manner and naive enthusiasm
Science Writers (folks who write lucidly about science subjects in narrative the rest of us can understand and enjoy)
Contemporary Fiction Authors
Miriam Colwell – Contentment Cove, one of the best novels about Maine’s class conflict
Jim Nichols – Hull Creek
K. Stephens – The Ghost Trap
Contemporary Non-Fiction Authors
Susan Conley – The Foremost Good Fortune
Colin Woodard – American Nations
History, Non-Fiction Authors
George Daughan – American naval history
Lincoln Paine – maritime history
Happy Reading Everyone!