In March 1986, while living in Brooklyn, Chris Bohjalian and his wife were cab-napped on a Saturday night and taken on a forty-five-minute joy ride in which the driver ignored all traffic lights and stop signs. Around midnight he deposited the young couple on a near-deserted street, where police officers were about to storm a crack house. Bohjalian and his wife were told to hit the ground for their own protection. While lying on the pavement, Bohjalian's wife suggested that perhaps it was time to move to New England.
Months later they traded in their co-op in Brooklyn for a century-old Victorian house in Lincoln, Vermont (population 975), and Bohjalian began chronicling life in that town in a wide variety of magazine essays and in his newspaper column, "Idyll Banter."
These pieces, written weekly for twelve years and collected here for the first time, serve as a diary of both this writer's life and how America has been transformed in the last decade. Rich with idiosyncratic universals that come with being a parent, a child, and a spouse, Chris Bohjalian's personal observations are a reflection of our own common experience.
"Chris Bohjalian is a terrific columnist—thoughtful and thought-provoking. Just like me! No, really, this guy is good." —Dave Barry, author of Boogers Are My Beat
“The best book I’ve ever read about life in a contemporary village. There’s no doubt that Chris Bohjalian has established himself as one of America’s finest, most thoughtful, and most humane writers.”
—Howard Frank Mosher
At the beginning of 1992, Bohjalian, a noted novelist (Midwives; Trans-Sister Radio; etc.), started writing a weekly column for the Burlington Free Press, the newspaper in the city closest to his home in Lincoln, Vt. In this inviting volume of more than 60 pieces from his 12 years of chronicling everyday events from "the yellow house on the corner of Quaker Street," the transplanted New Yorker celebrates the village's traditions and showers its residents with praise. He rhapsodizes about the democracy of the annual town meeting, during which he sees "three generations of families scattered across the church like wildflower seeds"; he laments the dwindling in the number of dairy farms in the Green Mountain state and pokes fun at his perpetual inability to locate the septic tank behind his house. Some topics are predictable invading leaf peepers, maple sugaring, mud season and Bohjalian occasionally sounds too Pollyannaish as he gushes about smalltown New England life. But he also writes movingly about serious, intimate moments. In the book's most memorable essay, which recounts the destruction of 80% of Lincoln's library books by a flash flood, Bohjalian's words beautifully capture the community's grief: "I saw dazed adults crying softly.... They didn't cry that day for the roads or the bridges that had been lost.... But they did cry for their books."