Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Garden of Spring Arrivals: Suosso's Lane Comes to Kingston

I'm cleaning up my act and taking it on the road. (Is that how that expression goes? I can't remember exactly.)
             I'll be speaking on "Suosso's Lane" in Kingston, MA on Thursday, April 28, 7 p.m. at the Kingston Senior Center, 30 Evergreen St., in the Kingston Spring Author Talks sponsored by the Kingston Library. 
             Kingston is not far from Plymouth, MA, where the book is set. Suosso's Lane is a street in North Plymouth where Vanzetti lived for about five years. He was still living in Plymouth, though on another street a few blocks away (Cherry Street) when he was arrested and charged with the crime that tuned into the international affair, the Sacco-Vanzetti case. My first book program took place at the Plymouth Public Library and attracted a big audience, drawing on local interest in the subject. 
        I'm hoping that some of that interest spread out, or leaks out, or otherwise disseminates beyond the municipal borders of the fair and history-proud township of Plymouth.  
         Speaking of history, I do have some of my own with the town of Kingston. Before the Boston Globe downsized its South regional section from two papers a week to one edition a week, I covered Kingston. I wrote little news briefs on a weekly basis, calling up folks such as the town clerk to find out the latest list of who was running for office and who had dropped out of the race by not turning in their nomination papers in time. Or the police chief, on various matters, including drugs. Or various local government offices on (in latter days) whoever was complaining about the noise form the town's wind turbine. One thing we have learned about wind turbines is they are marvelously effective in improving the hearing of certain residents who live what appears to be reasonably far away from them. 
           On the other hand, to be perfectly fair, when a neighbor plants a tree directly in your line of sight on the ocean it proves hard for months to see anything else. And when another neighbor (in another town) triples their house size over your back fence, it becomes difficult for a while to remember that the sky is still there. 
            Enough with these petty complaints. Kingston has always been a good neighbor for a journalist. When the state decided to reanimate the long-lapsed Old Colony Railroad it determined the best place to terminate the line was in Kingston, even though (as Plymouth officials pointed out) the term "Old Colony" has always referred to their "old" Pilgrim-planted town. 
            And when a big shopping mall company decided to build its state of the art regional consumer paradise, it chose a location in Kingston, thereby sending Plymouth's Main Street old-school retail economy into a death spiral. This of course ultimately did that town a favor since Main Street has recovered with its current leisure-time and tourist economy based almost entirely on restaurants, bars and antiques (enriched by some entertainment meccas that did not exist until recent years).
            Special friends live in Kingston as well, some of whom have particularly endeared themselves to me by becoming early readers and supporters of "Suosso's Lane." Sara Altherr is a friend and colleague from my years working for the Old Colony Memorial, the local newspaper that remains a valuable community resource. Full disclosure: the OCM has very been very good to me and "Suosso's Lane."
             My friend, the painter Carole Bolsey, also lives in Kingston. I can't ever look at her paintings without feeling more alive than I did the moment before. 
             In addition to which my Kingston friends and contacts all seem to live in beautiful homes on beautiful sites. Does it have something to do with the Jones River, a historic Colonial ship-building site whose local prominence has proved a catalyst for a vibrant conservation movement...?
              Will I ever stop saying nice things about Kingston? 
              Well, not before I mention the library, which promotes the community's cultural life with public programs such as the Kingston Library Author Series. Here's what the library director Sia Stewart kindly wrote about my upcoming visit: 
The 1920 Sacco-Vanzetti trial remains one of the most controversial legal cases of modern times. Two Italian immigrants, targeted for their political views, were convicted of a murder-robbery in a trial marred by weak evidence and judicial prejudice. They were executed seven years later despite international protests. In his novel, named after the street in Plymouth where Bartolomeo Vanzetti lived for five years, author Robert Knox provides a contemporary setting for a rearview look at the early 20th century trial of Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
           Robert Knox lived in Plymouth for 20 years before moving to Quincy, where he has lived for the last 10 years. He graduated from Yale University and taught English at Boston University and other colleges. He is a correspondent for The Boston Globe, and his poems, creative nonfiction and short stories have appeared in numerous literary publications.
           Light refreshments will be offered and although the program is free, reservations are requested.
           For more information or to register, visit the library’s online calendar at www.kingstonpubliclibrary.org or call the library at 781-585-0517, Ext. 112.