Boston, Part One: Newtonville Books

Boston—what a beautiful city! Flowers and trees everywhere! I was lucky to spend four days there with my mom while in town for readings at Newtonville Books and Harvard Bookstore. We had an amazing time and walked walked walked. When we weren’t walking, we were eating seafood. A man in Boston Common asked me on a date for no reason, and the one time we took a cab we thought our cabbie was on methamphetamines.

My mom is charmingly old-fashioned about some things, which shows up when she travels. She wears old socks to go through airport security, and when she puts her sandals back on she throws the socks away. She has a horror of unisex bathrooms, and she really, really hates gum. She thinks fast elevators make you shorter. Quirks aside, she is a great travel companion.

enjoying frozen yogurt in Boston Common

Boston Common is full of four-leaf clovers

 Newtonville Books seems to have a very supportive community of readers. Jaime and Mary, the owners, are gracious and kind, and I was interested in their store’s many innovative programs. They host a monthly, low-cost writing workshop, have book clubs and “celebrity” book clubs (with a guest writer), and maintain a community blog. They also offer a generous 20% discount on all books to store members and stock a nice selection of films based on books (members can borrow the DVDs for free).  If you live in Newton, why would you shop for books anywhere else?

I was at Newtonville with the fabulously talented Aimee Bender, who also went to Irvine and, years ago, talked to me on the phone when I was considering MFA programs. I read “Deer Season” and Aimee read chapter ten of her terrific new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Here we are, signing books:

One of Aimee’s fans had a tattoo of the cover image from An Invisible Sign of My Own on his leg. My mom is a big Aimee Bender fan too, and also a protective and concerned person, and this made her a little worried for Aimee, but the guy looked pretty sincere and harmless to me. No one had a Mattaponi Queen tattoo. If you’re thinking of getting one, I would say don’t.

Another interesting occurrence was meeting a writer who went to high school with Eula Biss. Three people from their high school English class have gone on to become writers. I would love for that to happen for one of my classes.

Here are a few more photos from Boston:

The back room at Newtonville is full of messages from writers

My friend Julie and her amazing vegetable tarts, which we enjoyed before the reading

Wall of kids' art at the MFA



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One response to “Boston, Part One: Newtonville Books

  1. pat hoppe

    I love the authors’ wall and what you say about your mom’s quirks! I think I may adopt the socks rule; I hate to place my bare feet on the mat where everybody else has walked; I remember being a child with athlete’s foot (which my mom said we got from daddy cause he had been in the barracks with all those men in WWII). Anyhow, it hurt, burned, and made me generally miserable until we were able to find some “medicine ” for it. As I recall, all my sisters had it. As a side not to explain why we caught it from Daddy: We had a well that was susceptible to drying up (a quarry nearby would blast away and then we would have no water for awhile), so we all took baths in the same one inch of water (ugh)….Dad always said not to complain because he had to bathe in water held in his helmet in WWII !!! Ha….so we never complained…..and all that is to say I agree with your mom…..throw away those old socks! (she and I are old enough not to care what people say about us….esp if the people are in the airport…). But then I think that really artistic people do not care….all of their lives, old or not!! I cannot come to Richmond today (got to take my dog to the vet)…..but I do send lots of Love to you! Pat

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