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Book Signing

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Book Signing

In the spirit of blatantly crass self-promotion, I am pleased to announce that the reviews are IN on A Certain Cast of Light: I’ve gotten two 5 star reviews on Amazon. Woo hoo! Two very kind reviewers did a fine job of saying nice things about my book while cleverly disguising the fact that they are most likely either a close relative or a good friend of mine. Much appreciated, and I hope others will soon follow suit!

I also just got back from a book signing event at the Westport Historical Society which went very well. At first, the women who run the place told me to expect around 20 people, and to bring no more than 10 books to sell. Moreover, they informed me, they will NOT under any circumstances keep any unsold books for their gift shop. “Your sort of books don’t sell,” they said.  Anyhow, we ended up with an overflow crowd of around 60 people and I sold lots of books — including 5 to the gift shop lady, who decided afterall that maybe it would sell!

My presentation was less about what’s IN my book and more about the historical context and the experience I had writing it. Nonetheless, I wish I had thought to end the talk with a reading of a short passage. Here’s the set-up for what I would have read aloud: My narrator, Haynes Bennett, is now a 65 year old man and is looking back at his boyhood. The cumulative effect of the losses and traumas he experienced during the war gives him the hairbrained idea to run away to Canada. It’s towards the end of the war, and he’s 17 or 18 years old. He gets as far as Vermont, but winter is coming on fast, and the sight of the snow-capped mountains before him jars him back to reality. He turns for home and Kessie, the girl he hopes to marry. When he gets within sight of Long Island Sound, dawn is about to break, and he knows if he hurries, he’ll make it to the Saugatuck River ferry in time to meet her. This is what he writes … it is the passage that signals the title of the book:

   Meeker’s scow was on the opposite bank, and while sitting on the launch waiting for it to cross, I perceived a cast of light in a way I had never quite seen before – that precise scattering of sunlight which is distinctive to the corner of the world where I was born and yet live. I saw it that morning brightening the rooftops of the warehouses in Norwalk, and have seen it many times since in the crisscrossing shadows of the undulating farm fields, and in the changing colors of the marsh grasses that crowd the tidal creeks. It is the same constancy of light that coppers the wings of migrating geese in the evening sky over the Mill Pond, and that glints the pebbles strewn across the sandbar at the beach at dawn.

   It is the same cast of light I see this very moment, a golden patch upon my kitchen floor that is readying to march across the room before making its steady ascent up the contours of my bookcase. It is the same light that fell upon my face as a boy dashing through clearings of ferns, and the same that fell upon the backs of my ancestors as they raked hay in their fields, or hammered shingles onto the roofs of their newly built houses. It was cold that morning waiting for the ferry to cross, and time could not move fast enough for me. I had been wandering about the edges of the world for so long, but when the sun finally broke over the trees on Bennett’s Rocks and lit upon the chimneys of the warehouses on the far side of the river, I saw that certain cast of light, and knew I had made it home.

That’s how I wish I ended my talk … Meanwhile, so many of you have been supportive of this project in so many ways.  Thank you all!




  1. Hi Jono,

    Must have missed your first couple of emails. I didn’t know that you wrote a book. Congratulations, its an amazing feat. Its something that I would like to try.

    Anyway Heike and I are on our way to Florida for vacation. We will stop in DC for the March for Science on the way. Hope to see you soon, Bert

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