Things that go bump in the night, reflections on the immigrant experience, a look at the meaning of home and a non-fictional survey of America’s Colonial pirates are the topics of four new books by authors who will be in Chatham in coming days.
Donna M. Bevans, a graduate of Harwich High School who now lives in Fort Collins, Col., will sign her novel “The Captain’s House” (AuthorHouse, 2019) on Aug. 13.
Bevans retired from a career in clinical psychology after 25 years; she segued into her second career as a writer of suspense fiction shortly before she retired.
This novel’s eponymous house dates from 1842 and stands empty on Pilgrim Road in Harwich Port. Because a curse on the house drives away owners, local real estate agents don’t want to handle the property. Enter Rachel and Ryan from Boston. Asking price for the updated house with six beds and four baths on a half-acre lot with an ocean view? Only $450,000. Readers who know anything about local real estate prices will now mentally advise Rachel and Ryan to run.
Of course, Rachel and Ryan don’t run. Rachel hopes to open a B&B in the house. “Welcome to our little slice of heaven,” a waitress says as she gives them a bottle of wine to celebrate their purchase of a new home. On their first night in the house they hear a door slamming, footsteps, pipes banging, and something scratching. And then comes the visit from the elderly Edgar Eldridge, whose sisters died in the den. The tale that follows is a delicious one of curses and hauntings and long-ago sea captains. In addition to the suspenseful story, many readers will enjoy the local businesses in Harwich and Chatham, including Yellow Umbrella Books, that make cameo appearances.
Bevans is currently writing another novel and considering a sequel to “The Captain’s House.” She will sign “The Captain’s House” at Yellow Umbrella Books in Chatham, on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 11 a.m. She will also give a talk on the book followed by a book signing at the Harwich Historical Society's Brooks Academy Museum in Harwich Center on Friday, Aug. 16 at 5 p.m.
Chatham summer resident Maxim D. Shrayer poses many profound questions about what it means to be an immigrant carrying “the baggage of memory” in his new book “A Russian Immigrant: Three Novellas” (Cherry Orchard Books, 2019).
What does it mean in today’s world when an immigrant from Guatemala, fishing alongside an immigrant from Russia, fails to recognize that his companion is a fellow immigrant? What does it mean when the Russian immigrant can pretend, for a moment, anyway, that he grew up in America?
The scene “invites the reader to reflect on the spectrum and variety of immigrant exteriors and physiques, on the basis of which others pass judgments about immigrants,” Shrayer said in an email interview last week.
Shrayer, who was born in Moscow in 1967, emigrated with his parents to Providence, R.I. in 1987. A professor at Boston College, Shrayer is the author of over 15 books in English and Russian. During the summer he frequently runs the South Chatham Writers Workshop, which is currently “on sabbatical.”
Now, lest you think “A Russian Immigrant” might represent some heavy reading, it does not. It is a funny and poignant book, especially in the final novella, “Borscht Belt,” set partly in a resort hotel in the Catskills “drowning in the myths of its past.” Again, the immigrant experience is at the forefront as amusing misunderstandings abound among the Russian-born denizens of the inn.
While the first novella, “Bohemian Spring,” takes place largely in Prague, the book as a whole “is not only a Jewish-Russian-American immigrant story, it’s also a New England story,” Shrayer says. “Not only are large sections set in Rhode Island, New Haven and the Boston area, but sections of the book were composed here on the Cape in South Chatham, our second home and my own writing capital of the world.”
Shrayer will sign “A Russian Immigrant” at Yellow Umbrella Books on Thursday, Aug. 15 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. For more information about both signings call the bookstore at 508-945-0144.
Two other noteworthy author events will be held at the Eldredge Public Library in Chatham in the coming days. On Thursday, Aug. 15 at 4 p.m. author Lisa Duffy will speak about her new novel “This Is Home” (Atria Books, 2019), the story of a teenage girl and a military wife who unite in their search for the true meaning of home. A book signing sponsored by Where the Sidewalk Ends Books in Chatham will be held after the program.
And on Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. author Eric Jay Dolin will speak about his new book “Black Flags, Blue Waters” (Liveright, 2018), the history of American piracy in the early 1700s. “Stars” of the period include Blackbeard, Captain Kidd and Edward Low. Dolin is the author of 13 books, including “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America.” For more information visit www.eldredgelibrary.org.