CHESTER -- Misty Valley Books’ 19th annual New Voices literary event takes place on Saturday at 2 p.m, at the First Universalist Church in Chester’s Stone Village. Five promising debut authors will talk about their work. Seating is limited, and tickets ($10) are available only at the bookstore and only prior to the event.
This year’s group includes neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, whose "Proof of Heaven" tells his story of returning to life from clinical death and the extraordinary things he experienced; Jessica Maria Tuccelli’s novel "Glow," named a 2012 Okra Pick by The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance; Maryanne O’Hara’s "Cascade," a fascinating look at what may have happened to a town swallowed by the Quabbin Reservoir; Kieran Shields’ "The Truth of All Things," a grisly new witch hunt in Maine in the summer of 1892; and "The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R." by Carole DeSanti, set in France on the eve of the Franco-Prussian War.
* Dr. Eben Alexander has been an academic neurosurgeon for the last 25 years, including 15 years at hospitals in Boston and at Harvard Medical School. He thought he had a very good idea of how the brain generates consciousness, mind and spirit. On Nov. 10, 2008, he was driven into coma by a rare and mysterious bacterial meningitis-encephalitis. He spent a week in a coma on a ventilator, his prospects for survival diminishing rapidly. On the seventh day, to the surprise of everyone, he started to awaken. Memories of his life had been deleted, yet he awoke with memories of a fantastic odyssey deep into another realm -- more real than this earthly one. Dr. Alexander and his book were featured on Oprah and in Newsweek.
* Jessica Tuccelli’s "Glow" transports readers from Washington, D.C., on the brink of World War II to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836. In the autumn of 1941, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, and an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP, hastily sends her daughter alone on a bus home to Georgia in the middle of the night -- a desperate measure that proves calamitous when the child encounters two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road.
* In Maryanne O’Hara’s "Cascade," it is 1935. In a small town fighting for its survival, a new wife with artistic promise is forced to choose between duty and desire. She was an up-and-coming Boston artist when she married in haste and settled in the small, once-fashionable theater town of Cascade to provide a home for her dying father. Now Cascade is on the short list to be flooded to provide water for Boston, and her discontent is complicated by her growing attraction to a fellow artist. When tragic events unfold, she is forced to make difficult choices between staying in a loveless marriage and setting herself free to become the artist she wants to be.
* It is 200 years after the Salem witch trials, in 1892, in Kieran Shields’ "The Truth of All Things," and a new marshal is called in to investigate a prostitute’s murder in Portland, Maine. He’s surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. He’s also surprised to learn that this death by "sticking" is a traditional method of killing a witch. Baffled by the ritualized murder scene, the marshal secretly enlists the help of an historian and a brilliant criminalist of mixed Abenaki descent notorious for combining modern investigative techniques with an almost eerie perceptiveness. The detectives pursue the killer’s trail through postmortems and opium dens, into the spiritualist societies and lunatic asylums of gothic New England.
* Eugénie R., born in France’s foie gras country, follows the man she loves to Paris in Carole DeSanti’s "The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R," but soon finds herself marooned, pregnant and penniless. She gives birth to a daughter she is forced to abandon and spends the next 10 years fighting to get her back. An outcast, Eugénie takes to the streets, navigating her way up from ruin and charting the treacherous waters of sexual commerce. Along the way she falls in love with an artist, a woman and a revolutionary. Paris, the gleaming center of art and civilization in Europe, is enjoying its final years of wanton prosperity before the Franco-Prussian War.
In addition to the readings at the Stone Church (a limited number of tickets available for sale), the public is invited to cross-country ski or snowshoe with the authors at Grafton Ponds on Saturday morning (trail fee), meet the authors at a reception at the church after the readings and then have drinks and/or dinner with the authors at the Fullerton Inn, on the Green next door to Misty Valley Books (full-course meal is $28). For dinner reservations, call 802-875-2444.
For more information stop by Misty Valley Books, call 802 875-3400 or visit www.mvbooks.com