June 7, 2011: Prof. Ann Williams Reading & Book Release Celebration
Join us at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth for a reading by Prof. Ann Williams to celebrate the publication of her new novel Down From Cascom Mountain. Prof. Williams will also be promoting the reissue of her father's novel The Hair of Harold Roux. Both books are being published by Bloomsbury, USA. This event is free and open to the public. Please check Prof. Williams' website for information about other readings coming up soon: http://www.annjoslinwilliams.com/
Down From Cascom Mountain
It happened in an instant. The pack slipping, his body twisting and grasping, and then the long fall to the hard rock below. In that instant, Mary Walker loses her new husband, who helped her imagine this dream: a return to the rural New Hampshire of her youth, to stay for the summer, maybe longer, and fix up her late parents’ house on Cascom Mountain—to start a family, recreate the home she loved on this land that shaped her. Alone now, Mary finds comfort in what community there is: the crew of young people who clear trails, perform search and rescue, and man the guest lodge through the summer season, gathering at night for ghost stories and songs. Mary did this work herself as a teen, and finds easy understanding with the youngest of them, sensitive sixteen-year-old Callie. Tobin, the brilliant but awkward boy Mary babysat years ago, also works his way into her days, keeping silent vigil on her roof. Finally, her husband’s estranged father makes his way to the mountain, hoping to reconnect in some belated way with his son. Holding fast to each other, all of them must navigate the rugged terrain of love lost and found, and at last, the unknowable trail ahead.
The Hair of Harold Roux
Aaron Benham is a professor, husband, father of two, and—when he can focus—a writer of fiction, at work on his novel The Hair of Harold Roux, a thinly disguised memoir of his college days. In Aaron’s novel, alter ego Allard Benson courts a beautiful co-ed, in spite of an easy attraction to her Communist roommate and the efforts of his ineffectual rival, Harold—an earnest and balding GI who has recently returned from war with an unfortunate hairpiece. What unfolds through Aaron’s mind, through past and present, life and page, is an exploration of sex and friendship, responsibility and regret, and the essential stories that see us through.
The reissue of a “thoroughly enthralling masterpiece,” a National Book Award winner from a critically adored and influential novelist, ripe for rediscovery.
“A superb and engrossing achievement.” —Joseph Heller
“[This] novel is terrific: it is sweet, funny, and sexy… Williams is an accomplished magician.” —Newsweek
Praise for Down From Cascom Mountain:
There seems to be no element of these people and this landscape to which Williams is a stranger. She sees straight to the heart of her characters, and it is a pleasure to witness them yearning and grieving and loving their way through these pages, one living human presence after another, the mountain and the forest rising up around them in all their mystery and specificity. –Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead and Illumination.
Following a rugged path from sorrow to salvation, Williams' new book is made from the serious materials of sudden grief -- but it isn't sad in the least. On the contrary! There's a fierce, hard-won joy here, as sturdy as the mountains of New Hampshire, and as glorious. --Michael Byers, author of Long For This World and Percival’s Planet.
Here in are the qualities of enduring greatness, our turbulent natures, instructions for life. Inside these covers there’s a woman’s profound love, a terrible and beautiful world, the claw of grief. Her story is told with grace and dignity and the kind of writing we hunger for: straight and true, spare and generous. --Robert Olmstead, author Stay Here With Me and Coal Black Horse
Down From Cascom Mountain is a thrilling and gorgeous novel, one that reaches far beneath the surface of human experience to reveal the roots of love and illuminate the depths of loss. In her virtuosic prose, Williams leads us into a rocky Northern landscape as dangerous as it is seductive; along the way, we come to know her characters as intimately as old friends. Their grief, hope, and desire will follow you far beyond the pages of this unforgettable book, and will lead you to recommend it to everyone you know. --Julie Orringer, author of How to Breathe Underwater and The Invisible Bridge.
Ann Joslin Williams has crafted a stellar first novel that reads as if it's her tenth. With the finely wrought prose of a poet, Williams gives us flesh and blood characters we can't help but care about, women, men, and children who find themselves deep in dangerous terrain: the natural world of Cascom Mountain, as well as their own conflicted and natural longings. This a haunting and lovely book!--Andre Dubus, III, author of House of Sand and Fog and Townie.
Ann Joslin Williams grew up in New Hampshire. She earned her MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She is the author of The Woman in the Woods, a collection of linked stories, which won the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, and her work has appeared in StoryQuarterly, the Iowa Review, the Missouri Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She was awarded an NEA grant for her work on Down from Cascom Mountain. Williams works as an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire.
Thomas Williams, one of the most admired writers of his generation, won the National Book Award in 1975 for The Hair of Harold Roux, widely considered his masterpiece. A brilliant work of fiction, it is also a powerful reminder of what fiction can do.
“The language flows from the purest vernacular to the elevations demanded by distilled perception. Our largest sympathies are roused, tormented, and consoled.” —Washington Post Book World
“A gracefully written, intensely plotted, and thoroughly enthralling masterpiece.” —Choice
“Williams proves once again he can do almost anything with words. This is literature.” —Publishers Weekly
Thomas Williams (1926-1990) was born in Duluth, Minnesota and lived most of his life in New Hampshire. He taught at the University of New Hampshire for thirty-two years. His short stories appeared frequently in Esquire, the New Yorker, the Saturday Evening Post, and elsewhere. His first novel, Ceremony of Love, was published in 1955. He went on to write seven more novels and a book of short stories; another collection of his stories, Leah, New Hampshire, was published posthumously. Williams was nominated for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and twice nominated for the National Book Award, winning in 1975 for The Hair of Harold Roux.
Introduction by Andre Dubus lll
Andre Dubus III grew up in towns along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border. His novels include bestsellers The Garden of Last Days and The House of Sand and Fog, a finalist for the National Book Award. He is most recently the author of a memoir, Townie.
Afterword by Ann Joslin Williams
Ann Joslin Williams is the daughter of Thomas Williams and the author of Down from Cascom Mountain and a collection of linked stories, The Woman in the Woods.