Archive for the ‘Books’ Category


Frank Tanana

June 19, 2007

Cheers for Mark Harris, Conclusion 

(Note: The following is by guest blogger/New York Mammoth Immortal Henry Wiggen, with punctuation freely inserted and spelling greatly improved by Josh Wilker)

“Pure Heat”

By Henry Wiggen

As my grandchildren would surely complain to you for days if they had the chance, I am constantly screeching about the importance of recycling nowadays. So leave me begin by recycling some old words that I saw as fairly crooked when I first read them many years ago: “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Southpaw.”

That’s from Mark Twain of course, except with a different title switched in there, my first book instead of Tom Sawyer, and here is what I have said about that starting of Huckleberry Finn previously on page 25 of the book I already mentioned and which is still available at Bison Books in case some money is burning a whole in your pocket: “I told Aaron that was a dirty trick to start a book that you no more opened then the writer was telling you to read another as well. He laughed, though probably I flung the book at him. I was a terrible kid for flinging things at people. I once knocked Holly unconcious with a sour apple. [Note: The Aaron mentioned was not the Immortal Hammering Hank Aaron but Aaron Webster that used to live next to Pop and me. Also Holly was not at that time of the sour apple but is now my long suffering wife as many know though we split up for some time and have only recently reconciled with a human bridge made out of grandchildren.]”

Leaving aside the fact that this above quotation is yet even more recycling, as you may have noticed, I am only mentioning these things so as to give you some idea of who I am if you have possibly forgot not only my four books in title The Southpaw, Bang the Drum Slowly, Ticket for a Seamstich, and It Looked Like For Ever but perhaps also my two league MVP awards and many All Star appearances and several heroic World Series exploits plus my 247 career lifetime wins and also a few key saves in my final season before getting drilled in the eyeball with a scorcher back though the box that made me move into a loving embrace of my golden years. Many of these things are matters of some renown I suppose but I see no harm in mentioning them. Especially with the fact that my youngest daughter Hilary’s latest man she drug home could only say with Cheese Doodles on his lips recently “Hey are you not the guy got drilled in the eyeball in Most Awful Sports Injuries Volume Three?” (I am not the only fellow withstanding this treatment. I once saw Joe Theismann who won a Super Bowl as no one seems to recall at a card show and he said the same clucks are also always coming up to him laughing about the joy of a shattered body that needs to be carried off the field in a stretcher. Why this is so enjoyable for the clucks I do not know. Who can figure out clucks?)

In fact speaking of clucks I was not at first the least bit interested in participating in this blog, which I do not even really understand the meaning of, blog I mean, though the word sounds like something unhealthy that might show up on a X-Ray that means it’s time to get the bullpen warmed because chances are you are a few pitches away from Hitting the Showers, if you understand my meaning. As I understand it a blog is mostly clucks trying to pretend they are sportswriters like old gigantic hogwash expert now many decades in a grand-piano packing case in the ground, Krazy Kress. Clucks pretending to be Krazy Kress? (Or as I also understand exists Krazy Kresses pretending to be clucks!) When contacted by this fellow Josh Wilker who explained his blog my first response was “I am too busy doing many other things instead such as recycling to save the globe and watching Magnum P.I. while eating my Cheese Doodles which are mine and not for the general consumption of Hilary’s latest man she drug home who wolfs them by the fistful as if he has been starving in a desert.”

But then he told me about Mark Harris. I did not know my old spelling and punctuation checker had passed away and it made me sad just as it has always made me sad hearing about old teammates and friends. I had not talked to him in a long time, since he added a few commas here and there into my last book It Looked Like For Ever (also available at Bison Books if you are in the mood to throw another reasonable chunk of money around for a book described by the Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin as “a warm, funny, touching book without a trace of sentimentality”). He was a nice fellow, an older guy who loved Carl Hubbell who some compare me to in the anals of the game and he also said he played baseball too though this is something practically everyone with a pulse tells me so who knows how deep the truth goes. Anyway I always liked him and I always thought he believed in my novels that he polished as much as anybody ever done, maybe even more than me sometimes.

But what can I say about him really, I asked this fellow who owns this blog you are reading now even though as far as I can tell there’s no money in it. I have not spoken to him in almost 30 years and never once cracked open any of the books he wrote himself and sent me besides checking to see if I was mentioned, which I wasn’t except sometimes on the back cover.

“Well,” said this Josh Wilker fellow, who to his credit did not ever yell through the phone to check if I was the guy that got drilled in the eyeball in Most Awful Sports Injuries Volume Three but instead asked me about Red Traphagen and Sid Goldman and Sad Sam Yale and others until the answers started collecting into a big pile of gloom.

“Well,” he said after getting me going about recycling for a while to get away from the gloomy pile of dead teammates. “You can write whatever you want. Anything you write will be a way to honor the memory of Mark Harris because Mark Harris did so much to help you get your story out.”

“He didn’t do that much,” I snapped, forgetting to not speak ill of the dead for a moment, if saying that they didn’t do that much is speaking ill. “I mean, he was a wonderful fellow and loved baseball but I done most of the heavy lifting in those books.” I got aholt of myself before saying more but thought: How much does it take to put in a few commas and meanwhile my hand was always a claw after writing one of those books all winter?

“Oh, I know, I know,” this blog half-cluck/half-want to be Krazy Kress Josh Wilker hurries to say. “I merely meant that he was always there when you wrote your books, like a trusty bullpen catcher throughout your career getting you warm for every 1 of your wins.”

I thought about that for a while. One thing that was always big to me was my catcher, from Red Traphagen to Bruce Pearson who I roomed with to Piney Woods who I roomed with after Bruce died all the way to Tom Roguski, Coker’s son, who I also roomed with for a few seconds my last season before my starring role in Most Awful Sports Injuries Volume III.

“Maybe you can write something about one of my baseball cards,” Josh Wilker said in a voice already halfway out the door and defeated.

“I rather tell about the necessity of recycling,” I said.

“Yes, certainly, that would be amazing!” he yelled, back in the door. “The only thing is Mr. Wiggen is it’s got to somehow connect even on a very small level to one of my baseball cards.”

So he sent me through the computer a photo of the card you see here which Holly had to remove from the email to the computer itself so I could look at if I want to for I do not know how to do such minor things anymore that everyone knows how to do such as even turn on the damn TV to watch Magnum P.I. I looked at it a little, the card, and also looked at what Josh Wilker sent me about the player there. Here is what he sent me:

Dear Mr. Wiggen,

Thank you SO MUCH for doing this! You don’t know how much I appreciate it as a huge fan of you and also of your trusty bullpen catcher Mark Harris.

Attached is a card of Frank Tanana that I thought you might have some thoughts about. He was selected straight out of high school by California with their number one pick in the June 1971 draft, the same month and year your career abruptly ended. As you may well know (I am actually hoping you may have continued to have some dealings with the California franchise after your retirement), Frank Tanana was an extremely hard-throwing left-hander who reached the big leagues as quickly and as young as you did and had quite a lot of early success (though not as much as you). He lasted a long time in the league, even a little bit longer than you, and had almost as many career wins (240 to your 247), though he did not enjoy any 20-win seasons or World Series victories, as you did. I’m not at all trying to make the case that he was your equal, but out of all my cards (which are largely from my childhood years of 1975 through 1980) he seemed like the one that had the most connections to you. He even started his career with California and ended it with New York, just as you started yours with New York and ended it with California. He was also born on July 3, exactly one day before your patriotic birthday.

But actually the one main reason I sent along this card as the one that might give you something to talk about is that Frank Tanana and you are among a very select few in history who have ever been able, at least for a little while, to reach back and throw PURE HEAT. In the season just before the photo on the card I sent you (Tanana was just 21 years old through the first half of the season, just one year older than you in The Southpaw, Tanana went 16 and 9 with a 2.69 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 259 innings. In one game alone he fanned 17 men.

There are more men who have walked on the moon than there are southpaws who know what it feels like to throw that kind of heat. Frank Tanana’s one of these few, and of course you are another. Also, Frank Tanana knows as well as anyone what it’s like to lose that fastball, having arm trouble by his mid-20s that turned him into a junkballer for the rest of his career. This seems like something you might be able to talk about too.

Anyway, thanks again for doing this, Mr. Wiggen. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.

–Josh Wilker

Well, in answer to his questions I did not have much to do with California or with baseball a-tall after retiring. It wasn’t easy walking away but when I finally did it was like a door shut and I tossed away the key. I still watched a game from time to time but I cannot recall ever seeing this fellow Frank Tanana throwing either heat or slop. I do recognize something of course from the photo itself here and it is the look on Frank Tanana’s face. That is the look of someone like I used to be and maybe still am though now it means I am a old fool. That look is pure and unshakeable confidence. He is of course just standing there not even on a mound when the photo is being took but even there he is got his hands up and ready for his motion and his fingers on the ball and that is waking the feeling of pitching, of being ready to pitch. And when that feeling awakes in the body of a fellow who can reach back for the smoke and the smoke is always there then there is not a better feeling in the world for you cannot be beat. That is what I see in this card, a young man like I once was a thousand decades ago before such things as hips started crumbling who believed from head to toe he could not be beat.

I will end by recycling one more thing and pleading that you all recycle too for the world is no longer young with a blazing fastball to get out of every jam. No we are all one big old junkballer who better learn to think things through every step of the way and be extra careful at all times or we are all going to get shelled and hit the showers for good. This following is from my book The Southpaw (which the New York Times called “a distinguished and unusual book”) because it is a part I think of when I think of this young Frank Tanana and also of myself and also of my old trusty bullpen catcher of many years Mark Harris, may he rest in peace. It is from page 147 and spring training before my first full year in the majors and if I do say so myself it is not half bad, though it makes me feel a little sad now to read it:

I guess I was really in the best shape of my life. I could of shouted and sung, for I felt so good. Did you ever feel that way? Did you ever look down at yourself, and you was all brown wherever your skin was out in the sun, and you was all loose in every bone and every joint of your body, and there was not a muscle that ached, and you felt like if there was a mountain that needed moving you could up and move it, or you could of swam an ocean, or held your breath an hour if you liked, or you could run 2 miles and finish in a sprint? And your hands! They fairly itched to hold a baseball, and there was not a thing you could not do once you had that ball. You could fire it like a cannon and split a hair at 300 feet, and you could make it dance and hop, and the batter could no more hit your stuff then make the sun stand still.


Sparky Lyle in . . . The Nagging Question

June 15, 2007

  Cheers for Mark Harris, Part 2

My favorite baseball book is The Southpaw, but it wasn’t always that way. For a while there, before I knew of Henry Wiggen, the tale of a different lefty topped the list. And I still owe a big debt to him.

Sparky Lyle got me writing.

His diary-style recounting of the tumultuous 1978 season, The Bronx Zoo (written with the help of Peter Golenbock), came out in 1979 when I was 11. I bought it that summer, when my brother and I were in New York City for our annual visit to see our dad. The cover featured a picture of a baseball festooned with a walrus mustache. The mustache bulged up above the otherwise flat surface of the cover, like the raised letters on the front of a Harlequin Romance. I practically went into cardiac arrest from laughing while reading the book on the busride home.

My brother and I had always seemed to find a way to laugh our asses off on that 8-hour ride. In earlier years we’d done it by filling in all the blank spaces in Mad Libs with swear words, or coming up with obscenity-laced versions of common acronyms such as FBI and CIA (this latter riff beginning with the two of us inventing “blue” versions for the UFP acronym on my brother’s official United Federation of Planets Star Trek T-shirt). I don’t remember anything particularly funny from the homeward busrides in the years after the Bronx Zoo hilarity, however, which suggests that Lyle’s descriptions of clubhouse pranks and dugout fueds provided our last Greyhound hurrah. By the summer of 1979 my brother had become a teenager, while I was still a kid, the two-year gap between us never wider, and so by then in most settings he reacted to my pestering demands for his attention by, first, totally ignoring me, then if that didn’t work fixing me with a brief glowering stare, and finally if I still kept at it unleashing a spring-loaded backhand punch to my upper arm. But I guess the regular rules were-up to and including that summer but not beyond it-suspended for our busride home from seeing our father. In that moment of suspension between parents it was the two of us against the world, laughing.

And in that last laughing busride we had Lyle’s book open between us, painting a graphic picture of grown men acting like children: bickering, playing baseball, cursing, playing baseball, getting in fistfights, playing baseball, and, in the most memorable running gag, perpetrated repeatedly by the book’s narrator upon a string of teammates, sitting bare-assed and ruinously on birthday cakes. All this must have been reassuring to me. If they haven’t grown up, maybe I don’t have to grow up, I thought. Baseball can go on, laughing my ass off can go on, feeling like I’m part of a team can go on. All these things had buoyed my childhood, and though I didn’t consciously note their imminent departure from my life, the fact is they were all on the brink of diminishing, and on some level I must have sensed this. So I seized on Lyle’s book, which is another way of saying I loved it.

And when the following year’s little league season came around, my final little league season, I decided to emulate Sparky Lyle. My father had recently given me a diary and had implored me to write something in it every day. The cover of the diary was denim. It had gnomes on it. In fact, it was called a Gnome Gnotebook. It took all my strength not to beat my own ass for owning it. But the evening after my team’s first little league practice of the year I ignored the gnomes and began to write, hoping that my increasingly mundane life would instantly burst into side-splitting hijinx. A few years later, during my college years and in a tantrum of frustration at still not being able get down on the page anything close to resembling what was inside me, I tossed all my writing notebooks (including the Gnotebook) into a dumpster. But I still remember the sentence that started my lifelong attempt to write down my life. I was trying to be sardonic and weathered, a crusty self-deprecating veteran. I guess I was probably trying to sound like Sparky Lyle. And I was trying to tell the truth.

“I couldn’t lay my glove on anything today, much less my bat,” I wrote.

My ten most favorite baseball books:
The Southpaw, by Mark Harris
Hang Tough, Paul Mather
, by Alfred Slote
Bill James’ Historical Abstract
Bang the Drum Slowly
, by Mark Harris
The Donald Honig Reader
Five Seasons
, by Roger Angell
The Bronx Zoo
, by Sparky Lyle with Peter Golenbock
The Great American Baseball Card Flipping Trading and Bubble Gum Book
, by Fred C. Harris and Brendan C. Boyd
The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., by Robert Coover

On to The Nagging Question:

What is your favorite baseball book?


Champ Summers

June 14, 2007

Cheers for Mark Harris, Part 1

I’ve been reading as much Mark Harris as I can get my hands on lately. A couple days ago I found myself rapidly nearing the end of my well-worn copy of The Southpaw, so I raced off to the library and grabbed everything else they had by Mark Harris on the subject of baseball. I thought about also lugging home all his non-baseball books too but decided that would have to wait for another time, since I’m due to go to Holland on a belated honeymoon in a couple weeks and won’t have time to plow through everything the man ever wrote before then.

Throughout my life I’ve read The Southpaw several times, Bang the Drum Slowly several times (though not quite as often as The Southpaw), and also Harris’s non-baseball novel Speed, which I liked a lot. Additionally, I sort of read It Looked Like For Ever, the fourth and final Harris novel featuring immortal New York Mammoth hurler Henry Wiggen as narrator, but I’m pretty sure I ended up skimming the last part of it. It was a gift for a friend, but before I gave it to him I had to check it out for myself, and was mostly disappointed by it, probably in part because I was sure a book about Henry Wiggen struggling through his final season could not possibly fail to be immensely enjoyable. Unfortunately, there was hardly any baseball in it at all (or “a-tall,” as Wiggen would say), maybe none, and maybe because of that it amounted to a long and demoralizingly sour death rattle of Wiggen’s formerly ebullient, blistering, hilarious voice.

But I may be remembering it unfairly and am planning to give it another try after I first read some of Diamond, a collection of Harris’s baseball writings (which includes among nonfiction pieces an excerpt from Bang the Drum Slowly—all the library copies of the novel were checked out, which was my biggest library-based disappointment since discovering, years ago, in a severe late-20s puberty relapse, that all the pictures in a nearby college library’s back copies of 1970s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues had been ripped out by some other nostalgic pervert—and the entire screenplay based on that novel, written by Harris) and also after I read Ticket for a Seamstitch, the one Henry Wiggen novel I’ve yet to crack, perhaps because I’m under the impression that most of its fairly slim contents are taken up by a story in which the young eccentric catcher Piney Woods (clubhouse singer of the sad song that gave the previous novel its title), and not Wiggen himself, takes center stage. But I’m ready to devour it all, good and bad, and in a way maybe it’s fitting that my full read of Bang the Drum Slowly will have to come last, instead of second, as I first planned it (wanting initially to read the entire Wiggen chronicles chronologically). Now I’m assured that I’ll end my latest (but with luck not last) foray into the world of Henry Wiggen on a note of brilliance.

And it’s fitting that I’ll be able to end my project on an elegiac note, too, Bang the Drum Slowly one of the saddest and most moving novels I have ever read, baseball or otherwise (and I have been reading novels pretty much constantly for two and a half decades, a habit that began in large part with my first reading of The Southpaw). I’ve cried whenever I’ve read Bang the Drum Slowly, and I’ll probably cry again, except this time I won’t be crying solely for Bruce Pearson but for the man who created not only Bruce Pearson but also Henry Wiggen and Red Traphagen, knarf retrop and Tegwar, and Sam Yale and Sid Yule, to name just a few of the sacred and profane odds and ends and endless beginnings in the pungent and thriving universe of the New York Mammoths.

In other words, as some of you probably already know, the greatest of all baseball novelists has died.

I finished my latest hungry reading of The Southpaw on the train to work yesterday morning, then read a couple pieces from Diamond, including one in which Harris reflected on his first Henry Wiggen yarn as being an unconscious product of two deep strains in American literature: the Horatio Alger success story and the Huckleberry Finn-style American vernacular.

Harris was aware of his debt to Twain, and later became aware of the similar influence of the Twain literary descendent, Ring Lardner, who first brought the American vernacular yarn onto the baseball diamond in 1916 with You Know Me Al. On the other hand, the Alger influence, which had thoroughly permeated baseball fiction by the time Harris began to pen The Southpaw in the early 1950s, was not so clear to Harris at first. He later came to see that his hero, Henry Wiggen, similar to the heroes of the standard stories of baseball triumph, “does succeed, does grow rich, does preserve his moral virtue.” But at the time he was writing the book, he saw The Southpaw as diametrically opposed to the hackneyed conventions of the Algeresque baseball tale. His critique of the conventional “rags to riches” story of uncomplicated good-over-evil victory becomes abundantly clear near the end of The Southpaw, when Henry Wiggen goes to see a baseball film with his slow-witted roommate Bruce Pearson:

…even Bruce could see [the movie, entitled “The Puddinhead Albright Story”] for the usual slop that it was where nobody sweats and nobody swears and every game is crucial and stands are always packed and the clubhouse always neat as a pin and the women always beautiful and the manager always tough on the outside with a tender heart of gold beneath and everybody either hits the first pitch or fans on 3. Nobody ever hits a foul ball in these movies. I see practically every 1 that comes along and keep watching for that 1 foul ball but have yet to see it.

Wiggen would have seen eye to eye with another fictional early 1950s New York-based malcontent, Holden Caulfield. The hero of The Catcher in the Rye (which as a child I figured was a baseball book because of the fielding position named in the title) like Wiggen hated the unrealistic fantasies of Hollywood. Wiggen and Caulfield, whose sardonic, plain-spoken voices sometimes sound similar even though the former is rising up in the world while the latter is plummeting downward, both loathed all manner of “phonies” in general, and each of their coming of ages can be seen as an increasingly desperate quest to escape the suffocating myth, cultivated by phonies everywhere, that we all get to live happily ever after. Henry Wiggen, like Holden Caulfield, wanted to break through the bullshit to something real.

By the time I first heard of Champ Summers I had started to become the sarcastic wiseass who would soon, with the help of puberty, bloom into the alienated loner so ready to embrace the caustic phony-hating words of Henry Wiggen and Holden Caulfield. In other words, I did not like Champ Summers, because I believed with a name like that he must have been the living embodiment of the baseball version of the happily-ever-after tale. What better name could there be than Champ Summers for the hero of a one-dimensional, rags-to-riches, no-foul-balls-allowed tale of glorious victory on the baseball diamond? No pen-wielding phony could have ever dreamed up any better.

Because of that some part of me relished the less than stellar statistics on the back of his baseball card. I assumed because of his name that he was a highly touted “Next Mickey Mantle” (a la Clint Hurdle) who had been rushed to the big leagues after spending his high school years in some golden uncomplicated town single-handedly winning state championships and fornicating with the cream of the cheerleading crop, so I enjoyed his apparent journeyman status as some kind of cosmic comeuppance.

In actuality, after high school Summers tried to play college basketball but wasn’t really cutting it and ended up getting shot at by the Viet Cong for a few years instead. After getting out of the Army, Summers got noticed by a scout while he was playing in a softball league. He was 25 years old when he was signed, 28 when he made the big leagues. By the time of this 1978 card he was a 32-year-old veteran who had played, sparingly, for three teams in four years, getting traded first for Jim Todd and then for Dave Schneck.

Needless to say, heroes in rags-to-riches fantasies don’t go around getting traded for Dave Schneck.

Henry Wiggen’s loss of innocence is underscored throughout The Southpaw by his changing relation to the iconic images of baseball players he idolized as a child. Chief among these images is a photo of New York Mammoth star Sad Sam Yale. As a child, Henry cuts the photo out of a library book that tells Yale’s story in a way that Horatio Alger would have approved: as a morally uncomplicated rise to the top. Henry keeps the photo over his bed for many years, then begins carrying the photo, folded up, in his wallet. He continues to do this even after becoming the teammate of Sam Yale, whose first words to Henry are “goddamn you” and whose dissolute, vice-filled life, if not his still masterful pitching, is clearly nothing like the life presented to Henry in his once-treasured library biography. But eventually the photo in his wallet, once a beacon showing him where he thought he wanted to go, who he wanted to become, loses all meaning to Henry. It’s nothing more than a piece of paper.

Henry’s changing relationship to iconic images such as the picture of Sam Yale shows up during the climax of the novel, when the southpaw is laboring through the ninth inning of his final regular season start of the year, a game that his team needs to win. Mark Harris could have brought anybody to the plate to face Henry Wiggen, so it’s telling that he introduces a previously unmentioned character to battle his protagonist:

Bob Boyne hit for Fred Nance, a man of near 40 that I bought bubble gum as a kid with a card in every chunk and once had a card for Boyne, his picture and his history.

Henry Wiggen notes this information calmly, dispassionately, just as he goes on to note Boyne’s strengths as a hitter. His opponent is no longer a hero on a bubble gum card, just a man, like him, nothing more, nothing less. 

With that in mind, I doubt Henry Wiggen took much pleasure in seeing his own image on a bubble gum card, as he likely would have at some point during the following season. He’s done with reveling in his own rags to riches fantasy, seeing the emptiness of it, the essential phoniness. For others of us the fall from innocence is never so complete. Our childhood wishes cling to us even in the face of years of disillusionment. We still dream of being the child who dreams: One day I’ll become the object of wonder.

Apparently, even some of the men who live out the mundane, Schneck-laced reality beneath the fables of awe are loath to give up on their innocent dreams. Writer Joe Goddard, working on a piece entitled “What’s Up With Champ Summers?”, asked his subject to name his best moment as a major leaguer.

“The first time I saw my face on a bubble-gum card,” Champ Summers replied.


I see Seals . . . but where the hell is Croft?

April 13, 2007

To me, a Cardboard God post without any cardboard is like Oates without Hall, Garfunkel without Simon, Shields without Yarnell, Tony without Orlando and Dawn.

It just doesn’t feel right.

Unfortunately, it’ll probably be a couple days yet before I can resume my quest to autopsy my entire existence using my dull-edged 30-year-old baseball cards as scalpels. The wife and I are moving tomorrow, for the nine billionth time, and everything except a couple toothbrushes and the precious, precious television is taped up inside a box, including all the Cardboard Gods.

(Luckily, anyone looking for a baseball card fix can tune into Bruce Markusen’s fine portrait of Doc Medich on Bronx Banter today.)

Also, for anybody in the Chicago area, below is some info about a fiction reading I’m taking part in next Friday. (I’ll be reading from some non-basebally stuff about hippies and such.)

WHO:  Local writers and Vermont College alumni Carol Anshaw, Thomas Balazs, Jeanie Chung, Kate Harding, Bruce Stone and Josh Wilker

WHAT:  Reading to promote The Way We Knew It: Fiction from the first twenty-five years of the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College and Hunger Mountain, Vermont College’s literary magazine.

WHEN:  Friday, April 20

            5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Barbara’s Bookstore

            1218 S. Halsted

Since its inception in 1981, the Vermont College Master of Fine Arts in Writing program has produced noted alumni including Anshaw and Wally Lamb. Each author will read from his or her work as it appears in the anthology. Anshaw, award-winning author of the novels Aquamarine, Seven Moves and Lucky in the Corner, and an instructor in the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, will emcee. Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase. Admission is free.