A Catalog of Birds is the story of a family and a community confronted with a loss of innocence and wounds that may never heal. The legacy of war and its destruction of nature is seared onto the memories of a small American town. Billy Flynn always wanted to fly. An attractive young man, a patriot, he is also an artist with pencil and paint and has an abiding affinity for nature. It’s 1970 and he cannot resist the call to serve in Vietnam. A year later he is the only survivor when his helicopter is shot down.
A wounded Billy returns home to his family in upstate New York, especially to Nell, his adoring younger sister. In his absence, the woman he loves has mysteriously disappeared. His wounds have crippled his ability to even hold a pencil and his hearing loss has cut him off from the natural world. Nell, a brilliant student headed for a career in science, will do all that’s possible to save him. Laura Harrington has written a tale of forgiveness, of ourselves, and those we love. Illuminated by heartbreak and promise, the novel is alive with spirit and wonder and hope for the future.
In Tom O’Vietnam, Baron Wormser “has identified and precisely embraced a stunningly particular historical moment we casually refer to as ‘Viet Nam,’ as if the name was not a country but a dark shroud of moral collapse that hangs over us still. More remarkably, he has constructed this narrative from the point of view of a combat soldier, fighting in the American War in Viet Nam. Somehow there is a deep legitimacy to this soldier’s story because Wormser has been excruciatingly precise in his consideration and use of details–what Hemingway called ‘getting the words right.’ Built into TOM O’ VIETNAM’s narrative is a clever, bright and engaging analysis of King Lear that parallels the primary narrative in richly imaginative ways. Inventive, immodestly challenging more than a few literary fictive conventions, and sometimes even beautifully written, TOM O ‘VIETNAM is, at the same time, in a class by itself and resonant of great works about Viet Nam that have come before.” (Bruce Weigl)
Laura Harrington, has written dozens of plays, musicals, and operas, which have been produced in venues ranging from Off-Broadway to the Houston Grand Opera. Harrington has twice won both the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in playwriting and the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England. Laura teaches playwriting at MIT where she was awarded the 2009 Levitan Prize. Alice Bliss, her first novel, won the 2012 Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction.
Baron Wormser is the author of nine books of poetry and a poetry chapbook. He is the co-author of two books about teaching poetry and the author of a memoir along with a book of short stories and a novel. He teaches in the Fairfield University MFA program. He also is the Founding Director of Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching in Franconia, New Hampshire. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He served as poet laureate of Maine from 2000 to 2005 and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Maine at Augusta in 2005.
This event is free and open to the public. Please call (603) 778-9731 or visit waterstreetbooks.com for more information.