Local Books Worth a Look: Check out these five new books with Valley connections


The Valley is full of talented writers. Here’s a sampling of recent work by local authors, and one book that’s all about Amherst.

More Money Than God

“Some poets wrestle with ghosts. Michelson invites them to sit at the kitchen table, crack jokes, give advice, live and die all over again.”

— Martin Espada, American Book Award winning poet

A children’s author and art dealer, Michelson’s third book of poetry, “More Money Than God,” is now hitting book shelves. Michelson says the book was influenced by his upbringing in a neighborhood consumed with racial strife, violence, and poverty. The book brings humor to these topics with an underlying emphasis on the worth of all makind. Michelson is the owner of R. Michelson Gallery in Northampton. Among his written works are “Battles & Lullabies,” “Tap Dancing for Relatives” and many children’s books.

Split the Crow

“ ‘Split the Crow’ is rife with surprises, rich with inventive images from the natural world, and delicious with music.”

— Ellen Dore Watson, poet and editor of the Massachusetts Review.

“Othering” is at the heart of this collection of poems by Sousa, an Ashfield writer. Starting in the mid-1600s, the poems weave together narrative and lyric style to tell the tale of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity and forced march through New England during King Phillips’ War. The collection moves on to tackle the expulsion of Native American tribes from the south and forced education.

Amherst, a novel

“One finishes the book exhilarated.” — The Sunday Times

This book isn’t by a local author, but it is about one. Based in Amherst, the novel “Amherst” is a love story about a screenwriter who comes to town to research the forbidden affair between Emily Dickinson’s brother Austin and Mabel Loomis Todd. Both were married, but not to each other. According to the novel, the lovebirds would meet in Emily’s dining room in secret while the famous poet guarded the door. During her research, the screenwriter falls into her own love story with similar parallels to the Dickinson-Todd affair.

Daodejing: An interpretation

Amherst poet Swist has joined with two literary colleagues to write “Daodejing: An interpretation.” The book features three takes on the seminal Chinese philosophical text by Lao Tzu. The Daodejing is the foundation for the Taoist religion, which is focused on living in harmony with the “Tao.” What the Tao is, is open to interpretation, too, but for many people it is simply “the way.” The reboot by Swist and company updates Tzu’s words for today’s audience without losing their original meaning.

Get in Trouble: Stories

“Ridiculously brilliant … and entertaining as heck … These stories make you laugh while staring into the void. By the end, they’ll be with you sleeping and waking.” — The Boston Globe

Link, a Leverett writer, shares nine new short stories in this collection. Each story is set in its own unique landscape with a special cast of characters. For example, in “I Can See Right Through You,” a past-his-prime movie star makes a disturbing trip to Florida where his former lover is shooting a ghost-hunting reality TV show. In other stories, Link introduces readers to astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, and iguanas.

Advocate Staff

Author: Advocate Staff

Editor of the Valley Advocate

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