About the Author

I was born in 1944 in San Antonio, Texas, where my father was an officer in the World War II Army Air Corps. My family was from Illinois, however, and I was brought up and went to school on the South Side of Chicago and to college in New York (School of General Studies, Columbia University, 1968). In 1972, following a brief and undistinguished career as a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy, I moved with my wife, Alice, to the southeastern corner of Vermont, a state I probably couldn’t have found on the map at the time. We were strangers here, but we can’t have minded that too much, for we’ve hardly moved in the succeeding forty years.

 

As a young man, like many others, I had enjoyed writing and thought of becoming a writer, but, again like many others, I faced the problem that, never having been anywhere or done anything, I lacked subject matter to write about. Mysteriously, moving to Vermont somehow put an end to that difficulty. I can take you to the spot, on a dirt road in a neighboring town, where I was walking a couple of days after our arrival in the state when, unaccountably, my life’s utter lack of interesting content or useful experience ceased to be an obstacle to writing. I can’t explain the change, but I have always gratefully associated it with my new home. Whatever the cause, I was on my way. No more than formerly had I ever done anything or been anywhere, but suddenly I found I was writing busily away, all the same, quite as if I knew what I was about. I still am.

Writers are often asked whether they make a living from writing. In my case the answer is: sometimes, almost. To be sure, for much of my life I have been employed in various departments of the publishing industry, mainly as a technical editor, copy editor, proofreader, and general editor for book and magazine publishers. All the while, however, I have also worked as a writer, not only of fiction, but also of personal essays, reporting, op-ed matter, history, and natural history. I have been a regular contributor to several periodicals, including The Old Farmer’s Almanac (1982-2011), Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine (1992-93), and Vermont Life Magazine (2009-present). Practically all the writing I have done (including six novels, about fifty short stories, and rather more than a hundred essays and other nonfiction: see Published Writings) has been in one way or another about rural northern New England, and in particular the State of Vermont and the lives of its inhabitants, a source of unique and undiminishing interest—at least to me.