An intimate group portrait of contemporary Hudson Valley writers.
Silver Medalist, 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards in U.S. North-East - Best Regional Non-Fiction Category
"When you truly fall in love, whether with a person or a place, you make everything else fit around it. The last eight years of my life have been a love affair with this place." — Gwendolyn Bounds, author of The Little Chapel By the River
For centuries, writers have drawn inspiration from the Hudson River and its surroundings. John Burroughs, James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edith Wharton all lived and worked in the region immortalized by the Hudson River School of painters. In River of Words, author Nina Shengold and photographer Jennifer May explore the current crop of Hudson Valley writers, offering intimate portraits of seventy-six contemporary writers who live and work in this magnificent and storied region. Included in this rich collection of emerging and established novelists, memoirists, poets, journalists, and screenwriters are Pulitzer Prize–winners John Ashbery and the late Frank McCourt, bestselling memoirists Julie Powell and Susan Orlean, and distinguished emigres Chinua Achebe and Da Chen. What draws these writers together is not only their devotion to their art but their love and affection for the Hudson Valley. Through words and photographs, River of Words offers an inside perspective on the literary life, the craft of writing, and the pull of this distinctive American landscape.
Nina Shengold is Books Editor at Chronogram magazine, and has written author profiles for Poets & Writers. Her novel Clearcut was published by Anchor Books in 2005. She won the Writers Guild Award for her teleplay Labor of Love. With Eric Lane, she has edited twelve theatre anthologies for Vintage Books and Viking Penguin. She lives in Stone Ridge, New York. Jennifer May's portraits of authors have appeared on book jackets for Harcourt, Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Norton, Seven Stories, Doubleday, and several others. In 2009, May flew around the United States photographing women for The L Life: Extraordinary Lesbians Making a Difference. Her photography has also appeared in periodicals including the New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; Country Home; Chronogram; Hudson Valley Magazine; Poets & Writers; Gourmet; and Food and Wine. She lives with her husband, the artist Chris Metze, in Woodstock, New York.
"…Shengold's words speak to an examining, watchful eye, a love for her subjects as she weaves the lives of Hudson Valley writers into good old fashioned storytelling, while unveiling delectable tidbits on the writers' lives and their beginnings … May's stark yet lovely black and white photography tells the remaining story of each writer, seen in the moments that capture a pensive face, an exuberant jump, a stern but friendly glance." — Tarrytown–Sleepy Hollow Patch
"…an amazing cast of characters in a 269-page book … every word in River of Words means something and bears the mark of a skilled writer." — Kingston Daily Freeman
"…my vote for best gift book of the season, for anyone who loves the Hudson Valley, goes to River of Words: Portraits of Hudson Valley Writers by Nina Shengold, with photographs by Jennifer May … Let's hope they plan a sequel." — Ann La Farge, Hudson Valley News
"Shengold's concise essays (some are just a page long) get to the heart of each subject, conveying just enough detail so we know what makes him or her tick. And May's elegant and revealing black-and-white portraits … provide a perfect counterpoint to the prose … a must-read." — Hudson Valley Magazine
"When you truly fall in love, whether with a person or a place, you make everything else fit around it. The last eight years of my life have been a love affair with this place." — Gwendolyn Bounds, author of Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town, and the Search for What Matters Most
"May has assembled an astonishing collection of portraits. What's particularly cool is that they are truly story-telling—they grab you and compel you to actually want to read the work of the writers she photographed—this is no small thing in a busy world saturated with imagery. This book gives us not only a revealing visual record of just how rich the Hudson Valley is in talent, but also a treasure map to a lifetime's worth of great works." — Doug Menuez, photographer
"A book of great beauty and emotion, at once revealing and painfully intimate. Nina Shengold's deceptively easy conversational tone, coupled with the powerful black and white photos by Jennifer May, provides an instant connection—you feel you are in the same room with their subject while the interview is taking place." — Frank Juliano, Executive Director, The Hudson Valley Writers' Center and Slapering Hol Press