Autumn in the Country

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Elizabeth Madox Roberts

Elizabeth Madox Roberts

“All the signs of the autumn came, the heavy plush-like asters, buckberries and frostflowers, everlasting and chicory–all the last tokens of the living year. The mockingbird would sing a few notes, reminiscent of spring after the quiet of the late summer, and on moonlight nights the cocks would crow all night long. Ellen bought a fresh ribbon for her dress and a bit of lace for her throat and blossomed anew with the frostweeds and the last of the chicory that lingered far into October. The abundance of autumn was again in the air, the summary of the growing season.”

–Elizabeth Madox Roberts, The Time of Man (1926).

Courthouse Rock in the Red River Gorge Geological Area in Kentucky. )Photo by Corey Heitz courtesy of Flickr and Wikipedia Commons).

Courthouse Rock in the Red River Gorge Geological Area in Kentucky. (Photo by Corey Heitz courtesy of Flickr and Wikipedia Commons).


Elizabeth Madox Roberts (1881-1941). Born in Perryville, Kentucky. Novelist and poet, especially well known for her novels The Time of Man and The Great Meadow (1930).

Here’s a link to the Elizabeth Madox Roberts Society, an organization devoted to scholarship and making her work better known:

Patrick Kerin



The Time of Man by Elizabeth Madox Roberts. University Press of Kentucky, 1982. Lexington, Kentucky. Originally published by The Viking Press in 1926.





Daunted by NaNoWriMo? Try “NaNovellaWriMo” instead

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(photo courtesy of Hannes Grobe through Wikipedia Commons).

(photo courtesy of Hannes Grobe through Wikipedia Commons).

The month-long frenzy of novel writing called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is soon to begin. This has become a phenomenon in recent years, an event complete with not only the requisite website, but also support systems, group writing sessions, merchandise, and so on. The goal is to produce, if not a finished first draft of at least 50,000 words or more, at least 50,000 words towards a first draft.

I am of mixed feelings about such a thing. A novel is a difficult creation to pull off, especially for those who haven’t written shorter fiction or much of anything at all. Good published novels are usually the result of years of work, careful and repeated rewriting, and then the process of editing, which may in turn beget more rewriting. Some novels take shape only after any number of possible preceding actions. These might include multiple false starts, long hours of research, or drafting long, detailed outlines or voluminous notes on characters, setting, and plot (the working methods of authors often range widely).

Hem hard at work on "For Whom the Bell Tolls"---definitely not a novella, although "The Old Man and The Sea" fits the bill.

Hem hard at work on “For Whom the Bell Tolls”—definitely not a novella, although “The Old Man and The Sea” fits the bill.

On the other hand, I can appreciate a fun effort to encourage people to sit down and write each day and really make it happen. The overall driving purpose seems to be to get it out on paper. Then the deeper work of rewriting can begin now that the first draft is done. The NaNoWriMo program also has a sense of humor, something I appreciate. Just take a look at their logo on their website, or some of their merchandise.

Having said that, I still propose an alternative to NaNoWriMo–“NaNovellaWriMo”– that may be less daunting for some writers who are staring down 50,000 words. That word count makes me wonder how much of this process is frustrating for many participants. How many find themselves going down false trails or wandering into dead ends? How many give up trying to create a work of this length? How many thrash about with their work, trying to figure out what to do next, getting mired with subplots, minor characters, questions of point of view, and so on?

Some works of Joseph Conrad, such as "Heart of Darkness," "Youth," and "Typhoon" might be considered novellas.

Some works of Joseph Conrad, such as “Heart of Darkness,” “Youth,” and “Typhoon” might be considered novellas.

I’m wondering if maybe the novella might be a more desirable goal to pursue in a thirty-day month, especially if you’re one of those people who has a full-time job, is raising kids, or is in charge of cooking the Thanksgiving dinner—you might fall into one or all of those categories. But here we run into the tricky business of defining the novella. One common definition is that it’s longer than a short story, but shorter than a full-length novel. But what is a full-length novel? And what do we make of the notion that the novella might also be considered a short novel? Finally, some sources might identify a novelette as essentially the same as a novella. Sigh.

One helpful guide to word lengths of different works is one used by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for their Nebula Awards. They define a novel as a work of fiction of more than 40,000 words. A novella is between 17,500 and 40,000 words. A novelette would be a short fiction piece breaking out of the short story form in the range of 7,500 to 17,500 words. And a short story is 7,500 words or under. Some may quibble with those numbers, but I applaud the organization for placing some boundaries and form on these categories, even if only for the purpose of awards in these genres.

A look to consider for your book jacket photo? The great Italian writer Boccaccio, famous for his "Decameron."

A look to consider for your jacket photo? The great Italian writer Boccaccio, famous for his “Decameron.”

It is also helpful to consider the origins of the novella, as we can see how it has been transformed through time, and how it differs from the full-length novel in ways beyond word counts. According to The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, the word novella is Italian for “tale” or “piece of news.” It was “a kind of short story, a narrative in prose of the genre of Boccaccio,” his Decameron being a notable example of a collection of old-style novellas. But this form underwent a metamorphosis later on in Germany: “It was not until late in the 18th and early in the 19th century that the novella was fashioned into a particular form according to certain precepts and rules. Then the Germans became the most active practitioners, and the Novelle has since flourished in Germany more than anywhere else.”

The great German writer Goethe was known as a practitioner of the novelle.

The great German writer Goethe was known as a practitioner of the novelle.

Furthermore, the German Novelle could range from “a few pages to two or three hundred, restricted to a single event, situation or conflict, which produces an element of suspense and leads to an unexpected turning point (Wendepunkt), so that the conclusion surprises even while it is a logical outcome.”

What I find interesting about this description is that we see an echo of it in a modern definition of the novella that provides not only word length, but a very helpful explanation of structural elements defining a novella. This may be useful for those who want to make NaNoWriMo into NaNovellaWriMo, and maybe find their efforts more successful, and the writing (possibly) more manageable.

Henry James had a great deal of affection for "the beautiful and blest novelle," and wrote a few himself, including the classic ghost story "The Turn of the Screw."

Henry James had a great deal of affection for “the beautiful and blest nouvelle,” and wrote a few himself, including the classic ghost story “The Turn of the Screw.”

Laurie Henry’s The Fiction Dictionary provides this useful definition. At word length she puts the form at 30,000 to 50,000 words, but more importantly she writes this:

“A novella is longer than a short story, contains more episodes, and unlike a short story, usually builds to several crises before reaching a climax. The final climax of a novella is usually much more conclusive than that of a contemporary short story. A novella generally differs from a novel, however, in the sparseness of its language and in the fact that it contains only a single plot line, into which there is little room for digression.”

Laurie Henry then cites Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as an example, and then gives a short overview of the plot, noting also that it is a robust example of a novella as it is “very linear, taking place over a short time, and following few characters in a limited number of actions.”

John Steinbeck--some of his works fit into the novella category. You would be in good company if you took this form on. (photo by Hulton Archive/Getty).

John Steinbeck–some of his works fit into the novella category. You would be in good company if you took this form on. (photo by Hulton Archive/Getty).

You may very well have read some of these books that generally fit the novella form. They include Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor; Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and The Pearl; and Katherine Anne Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider. Henry James had a special fondness for “the beautiful and blest nouvelle.” Two of his novellas are The Aspern Papers and one of his best known works—the ghost story titled The Turn of the Screw.

Stephen King has also written novellas. Two of his novellas have proven suitable for the screen: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Body, which was adapted as Stand By Me.

Stephen King has written a number of novellas, two of which have been made into films (photo courtesy of Pinguino via Wikipedia Commons and Flickr.

Stephen King has written a number of novellas, two of which have been made into films (photo courtesy of Pinguino via Wikipedia Commons and Flickr).

Is this possibly a better use of your time and a more do-able undertaking than the full-on 50,000 word project that is NaNoWriMo?

Patrick Kerin


The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, Third Edition. The Penguin Group, London, 1992. Third edition published in the U.S. and England by Basil Blackwood.

The Fiction Dictionary by Laurie Henry. Story Press, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1995.

NaNoWriMo official website.

Wikipedia article on NaNoWriMo.

Wikipedia article on the novella.

Wikipedia: “List of Novellas.”

Sprucevale, Ohio–October 22, 1934: End of the Road for Pretty Boy Floyd


Pretty Boy Floyd

Pretty Boy Floyd (Photo courtesy of FBI website).

October, 1934. In the farmland of Columbiana County in southeastern Ohio, farmers and hired hands are busy with the harvest season. Hard times have held the country in their iron grip for nearly five years. But now the sleepy rural landscape is astir. In this world of hazy autumn hills, weathered barn buildings, and trees aflame with fall color, a man scrambles desperately across a field. He runs, a pistol in his hand, and behind him follow a group of policemen and federal agents firing at the fugitive. He is hit. The men run up to him. Standing above the fallen man is federal agent Melvin Purvis, who just the past summer brought an end to the career of John Dillinger outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

“Are you Pretty Boy Floyd?” asks Purvis.

“I am Charles Arthur Floyd.”

Federal agent Melvin Purvis

Federal agent Melvin Purvis

It was a long, lawless road that brought Pretty Boy Floyd to his death at the age of thirty in rural southeastern Ohio. He was born in Georgia on February 3, 1904, and moved with his family to the Cookson Hills of Oklahoma at seven years of age. He grew up knowing the hard work of rural life firsthand. He was likable and charming, a hard worker, but he grew up in the bootlegging culture of the Oklahoma hills, and a spell wandering the rural Midwest as a harvest hand exposed him to people who made a living on the other side of the law.

He came to know well the world of gambling dens, speakeasies, brothels, and hideouts. It was in one such place—a boarding house run by a woman who offered sanctuary to criminals—that Floyd was first called “Pretty Boy.” This was from the owner’s daughter, a woman named Beulah Baird. Floyd came to loath the nickname.

He was caught stealing cookies from a store when he was a child, but graduated to more serious crime—mainly bank robberies. His first crossed the line stealing coins from a post office when he was eighteen—a hijink with some friends to get coins for gambling, but still a federal violation that brought government investigators to his hometown. He was able to escape jail for this, but a more serious offense occurred two years later—Floyd was arrested for a payroll robbery in Missouri. This crime put the budding criminal behind bars for three and a half years of a five-year sentence.

Other crimes followed, one leading to a conviction for a bank robbery in Sylvania, Ohio. He was sentenced to prison in Toledo, Ohio, but was able to escape and made his way back west. Floyd was soon responsible for the murders of two police officers.

Aftermath of the Kansas City Massacre.

Aftermath of the Kansas City Massacre. (Photo courtesy of FBI website).

Floyd may also have been involved in the “Kansas City Massacre.” These murders occurred on June 17, 1933. Four lawmen were killed transporting a criminal named Frank Nash. The FBI named Floyd and his right hand man Adam Richetti as perpetrators of the crime—and the official FBI website still insists that the two men were involved—but considerable doubt remains that Floyd and Richetti were there. Floyd always denied involvement, and even sent a note to authorities not long after stating he did not participate in the attack.

Floyd accomplice Adam Richetti

Floyd accomplice Adam Richetti (photo courtesy of FBI website).

Floyd’s notoriety made him one of a number of criminals J. Edgar Hoover was eager to take down. Hoover devised his “Public Enemy No.1” as a way to focus public attention not only on the criminals, but on his agency: the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation, which would later be renamed and known as the FBI in 1935. After the killing of John Dillinger, the first Public Enemy No. 1, the title shifted to Floyd.

John Dillinger

John Dillinger

Floyd occupies an interesting place in American outlaw history. He earned considerable renown then as a Robin Hood kind of figure, and the image persists today. There is some reason for the comparison. He was known for destroying mortgage notes when robbing banks, freeing people of their debts—at least for a time anyway. But Floyd, who was usually called “Choc” or Charley by the people who knew him best, murdered a number of men, and cost the public no small share of treasure trying to track him down. We can only imagine what the widows and children of the men he killed might say about the “Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills.”

Floyd and Richetti had laid low for most of 1934. They spent time in hideouts in Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. In October of 1934, Floyd decided it was time for him to return to the Cookson Hills of Oklahoma. He and Richetti drove back roads with two women. They had some kind of car accident and sent the women with the car into the town of Wellville, Ohio so it could be repaired. Floyd and Richetti would remain in the woods.


The beginning of the end for Pretty Boy came on Saturday, October 20. John Fultz, chief of the Wellsville Police Department, received a call about two men with firearms camped out on a hill. Fultz approached with two officers. The two men opened fire, and one fled up a hillside, firing as he went and wounding Officer Grover Potts in the shoulder. Chief Fultz fired repeatedly at the man closest to him, who was taken into custody and determined to be Adam Richetti. Fultz then notified federal authorities, and enlisted the help of the county sheriff’s department and other local police. The two unknown women, apparently getting the picture of what was going on, vanished from town.

After fleeing Fultz and his officers, Floyd commandeered one car and rode shotgun, but the Model T soon ran out of gas. Floyd took the driver with him and flagged down another vehicle, this one a Nash Rambler driven by a Wellsville florist named James Baum. Seeing a sheriff’s roadblock in the distance, Floyd ordered the car turned around, arousing suspicion. A deputy gave chase, and shots were fired, Baum being hit in the leg. Floyd left the car and fled on foot.

Charles "Choc" Floyd. He was no fan of the nickname "Pretty Boy."

Charles “Choc” Floyd. He was no fan of the nickname “Pretty Boy.”

The search for Public Enemy No. 1 intensified throughout the rest of the day and continued into Sunday. Federal agent Melvin Purvis, who had helped nab Dillinger, arrived in the area on Sunday. His heavyhanded manner caused strain with local police chief John Fultz, especially when Purvis set up his command center in East Liverpool, a town four miles away, and not Wellsville where the incident began.

J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Bureau of Investigation, later know as the FBI (photo courtesy of FBI website).

J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Bureau of Investigation, later know as the FBI (photo courtesy of FBI website).

Floyd eluded his searchers. But on Monday, October 22, 1934, Floyd emerged from the woods and approached the farmhouse of Ellen Conkle, a widow whose brother was out working in the fields. Floyd claimed to be a lost hunter and asked for a meal. She fed the desperado, and Floyd gave her a dollar and asked to see any local newspapers. He also asked about getting a ride to Youngstown.

Mrs. Conkle with the dishes Floyd used at his last meal.

Mrs. Conkle with the dishes Floyd used at his last meal. (Photo by kind permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

Her brother, Stewart Dyke, agreed to drive him. But Floyd noticed two cars coming down the road and ordered Dyke to pull the car behind a corn crib. Floyd jumped out and ran towards the fields.

Pistols retrieved from Pretty Boy Floyd (photo by kind permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

Pistols retrieved from Pretty Boy Floyd (photo by  permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

The story of whether it was federal agents or local police who gunned down the notorious Oklahoma outlaw remains contested. Both were chasing Floyd. But gunned down he was, and Floyd was carried over to the shade of an apple tree where he died.

Floyd on display (photo by kind permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

Floyd on display (photo by permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

Local crowd in the aftermath of Floyd's death (photo by kind permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

Local crowd in the aftermath of Floyd’s death (photo by  permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

The course of events following his death followed the pattern often seen with the capture or killing of Depression-era bad men. A mad circus erupted.  Floyd was taken to a funeral home, and his body was photographed and eventually displayed. Thousands walked past the body of the dead man, only his head showing above a covering on the bier. The mortician noticed that the former hardworking farm hand, who had spent countless hours of his childhood and youth laboring beneath the Oklahoma sun, had both manicured fingernails and plucked eyebrows.

Body of Floyd shortly after his death. (Photo by kind permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

Body of Floyd shortly after his death. (Photo by permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

Plaster death masks were made, most of which were distributed to local lawmen. The body was returned to Oklahoma for burial.

Plaster death mask of Pretty Boy Floyd (photo by kind permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

Plaster death mask of Pretty Boy Floyd (photo by permission of East Liverpool Historical Society).

John Steinbeck (photo by Hulton Archive/Getty).

John Steinbeck (photo by Hulton Archive/Getty).

Floyd left behind an ex-wife and a young son named Dempsey. The son would grow up, serve in the military in World War II, and live an honest life. And the legend of his father would grow as well. Pretty Boy Floyd has become the subject of songs, books, and movies. He would be portrayed by actors as diverse as Martin Sheen, Channing Tatum, Fabian Forte, and John Ericson. Steinbeck’s Ma Joad referred to him in The Grapes of Wrath. Renowned novelist Larry McMurtry and his writing partner Diana Ossana wrote a novel about Floyd. And he became the subject of a famous song by Woody Guthrie: “The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd,” which contains the following famous lines:

“As through this world you travel, you’ll meet some funny men,

Some rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen.”

Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie

It is eighty years to the day since Pretty Boy Floyd was shot dead in a field in Columbiana County. But in myth and memory he lives on, conjuring a world etched in the sharp black and white hues of the Great Depression, where gangsters and outlaws still ride, and grim men of the law follow in hot pursuit.


Patrick Kerin



Pretty Boy Floyd: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd by Michael Wallis. 1992 and 2011. W.W. Norton and Company, New York and London. There have been a couple of other books on Floyd since this came out in 1992, but this is an excellent biography of Floyd. Well written and deeply researched (including many interviews with Floyd relatives). Rich, brisk narrative by a historian noted for his works on the American west. Also really creates a feeling for the world he grew up in, and the America of the 1920s and 1930s.

“Pretty Boy Floyd” by Timothy R. Brookes. Timeline: A Publication of the Ohio Historical Society. August/September 1990. Volume 7, No. 4. Excellent article on the Floyd pursuit and killing in October of 1934 by the (then) President of the East Liverpool Historical Society.

Wikipedia article on Pretty Boy Floyd.

FBI website entries on Floyd and the Kansas City Massacre.

Many thanks as well to the impressive East Liverpool Historical Society in East Liverpool, Ohio.

Poet Richard Hague To Read At Northern Kentucky University

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Richard Hague

Richard Hague

On Thursday, October 23, 2014, noted poet Richard Hague will read from and discuss his new book of poems During The Recent Extinctions: New and Selected Poems 1984-2012 (Dos Madres Press, 2012). Hague is an award-winning poet and essayist in Cincinnati. Born and raised in Steubenville, Ohio, he has published fifteen collections of poetry, as well as a memoir of his Irish-Catholic and Appalachian family entitled Milltown Natural: Essays and Stories From A Life (Bottom Dog Press, 1997). He is also the author of Learning How: Stories, Yarns, and Tales (Bottom Dog Press, 2007). In addition to his publishing credits, Hague taught for forty-five years at Cincinnati’s Purcell-Marian High School, earning a reputation as a distinguished teacher who has seen many of his students win writing awards in local and regional competitions. He has received numerous grants and fellowships, was a Scholar in Nonfiction at a Bread Loaf School of English writer’s conference, and served as a staff member in poetry at the Appalachian Writers Workshop in Hindman, Kentucky.

Richard Hague's latest book: During The Recent Extinctions: New and Selected Poems 1984-2012 (courtesy of Dos Madres Press).

Richard Hague’s latest book: During The Recent Extinctions: New and Selected Poems 1984-2012 (courtesy of Dos Madres Press).

The NKU Friends of Steely Library and the NKU Department of English are sponsoring the event. It will begin at 7 P.M. in the Otto Budig Theater on the first floor of University Center at NKU’s Highland Heights Campus. A book signing and reception will follow the reading. This event is fee and open to the public.

For those following buckeyemuse in the geographical area covered by this blog, I want you to know that I am working to establish more contacts with public relations people at libraries, reading venues, bookstores, publishers and other literary and writerly-related venues and institutions. I’m in the southwestern Ohio, so it’s easier for me to find out more about what’s going on in this area, but hope to broaden the scope in the coming months.

Thanks for supporting buckeyemuse.


Patrick Kerin


Published Eighty Years Ago: Jesse Stuart’s “Man with a bull-tongue Plow.”

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Image courtesy of WUKY Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

Image courtesy of WUKY Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

Today—October 14, 1934–marks the eightieth anniversary of the publication of Jesse Stuart’s rambling and powerful collection of 703 sonnets called Man with a bull-tongue Plow. Yes, you read that number correctly—703! Stuart was a tall and robust man from the hills of Kentucky who wrote like a force of nature. He was born in Greenup County, Kentucky on August 8, 1906 and died on February 17, 1984.

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Stuart is a writer who deserves wider recognition, but his importance has been rightfully acknowledged as a seminal figure within the Appalachian literary tradition. He was a novelist, short story writer, poet, essayist, and memoirist who was also a gifted teacher. He wrote some stirring books on education, most notably The Thread That Runs So True, which tells of his days teaching in the mountain schools of Kentucky.

Image courtesy of Powell's Books.

Image courtesy of Powell’s Books.

Man with a bull-tongue Plow had a foreground that dated back one year. Frustrated with his earlier attempts to write in a more modern style, Stuart decided to write poems after his own heart and composed his first sonnets while out plowing during the summer of 1933 after returning home from graduate study at Vanderbilt. He sent one off to H.L. Mencken at the American Mercury. This first sonnet—“Elegy For Mitch Stuart”—was his first publication in a nationally recognized magazine.

H.L. Mencken

H.L. Mencken


That fall he published twelve more sonnets in the Virginia Quarterly Review under the collective title of “Man With a Cutter Plow.” He followed this submission with thirteen more poems once again in the American Mercury, and then published some more in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in May of 1934. The firm of E.P. Dutton contacted Stuart about a book of poems, and Stuart responded with the 703 poems that were published on October 14, 1934 to generally positive reviews.

Jesse Stuart

Jesse Stuart

In Man with a bull-tongue Plow, Stuart shows us the world of his Kentucky hills through the course of the seasons, telling stories of the people who inhabit this world. Some of the poems tell the stories of those buried in the local cemetery—a stillborn child buried by a grieving mountaineer father, a constable shot dead by a moonshiner, soldiers killed in France and returned home for burial. But there are also episodes full of comic exuberance and earthy humor, and celebrations of the land.

Man with a bull-tongue Plow demonstrates both the strengths and weaknesses of his work. Just about any scholar of Stuart will claim that he wrote too much, and didn’t revise as much as he should have. On the other hand, his work is full of vitality and celebration. Despite the faults, there are many riches to be found here. Stuart issued a revised version of the book in 1959 of only 622 sonnets (!).

I’ve been working on a more in-depth treatment of Stuart that should appear in the next few months here on Buckeyemuse. However, here’s hoping that readers might take a look at Man with a bull-tongue Plow.


Patrick Kerin



Jesse Stuart. Ruel E. Foster. Twayne Publishers Inc., New York. 1968.

Man with a bull-tongue Plow (revised edition). Jesse Stuart. E.P. Dutton Co., New York 1959.

Books By The Banks: A Celebration of Books and Reading

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Book lovers turned out in force on Saturday, October 11 for Books By The Banks: Cincinnati USA Book Festival. For six hours the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati was abuzz with activity as fans met their favorite authors, listened to panel discussions and author presentations, and met staff from local sponsors, which included both local public and university library systems, arts organizations, and theaters. Representatives from the Ohioana Library and the Ohio Center For The Book were there, and it was a great pleasure for me to speak with these folks and staff at local libraries. In addition to the literary history aspect of this blog, I want to start including more notices of regional literary events, so I am grateful to have met these people who work to keep books and literacy alive in this part of the midwest.

Jasper Fforde signing books at Books By The Banks.

Jasper Fforde signing books at Books By The Banks.

It was also heartening in this age of e-readers to see the long line snaking around the room as customers waited to purchase their books. That’s not a knock on electronic media, but it is a nod to the book itself, the item you can hold in your hand, that is not dependent on batteries or outlets, that can be signed by an author, that bears the creases and weathering of time and the affection of repeated reading. You can’t sign a Kindle.

Volunteers and kids having fun at Books By The Banks.

Volunteers and kids having fun at Books By The Banks.

Kids and teens had their own areas for special activities as well, and it was heartening indeed to see so many families there, enjoying the day and participating in crafts, watching demonstrations, and listening to stories.


Author Matt Holm.

Matt Holm

John Scalzi

John Scalzi

Wonderful too was the interaction between writers and readers. The authors, whether a well known figure like Marc Brown, or local writers there for the first time, clearly enjoyed meeting and speaking with fans.

Marc Brown, famous for his beloved children's character Arthur, signs books at Books By The Banks.

Marc Brown, famous for his beloved children’s character Arthur, signs books at Books By The Banks.

I left Books By The Banks feeling uplifted. We get used to seeing a lot of bad news in our times, and the news of late and throughout this past year has been pretty disheartening. But my few hours at Books By The Banks were a refreshing reminder of some of the good things of this world.


I look forward to being back next year.


Patrick Kerin


Cincinnati’s Books By The Banks: October 11, 2014

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The eighth annual Books By The Banks: Cincinnati USA Book Festival will be held from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 11 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. More than 100 authors will be there to sign copies of their books and talk with interested readers. Categories of books represented include children’s, cookbooks, fiction, local interest, graphic novels, nonfiction, sports, travel, and young adult. Sponsors will have booths, and Joseph Beth Booksellers will have their own space where they will sell books. Other special features include author talks, Teen Scene, and a Kid’s Corner. There is also a series of speakers on writing and getting published.

Suspense novelist Gregory Girard at last year's Books By The Banks.

Cincinnati novelist Geoffrey Girard at last year’s Books By The Banks.

Each year Books By The Banks includes a number of nationally and internationally known authors. Prominent writers attending this year are Jasper Fforde, Marc Brown (know for his beloved children’s character Arthur), Emily Giffin, Hampton Sides, John Scalzi, and Matthew Holm.

Children's author Marc Brown.

Children’s author Marc Brown.

Here’s the website for Books By The Banks that is full of information. The press section of this website is rich with detail:

I will be there, taking it all in and snapping some pictures, and will feature this on Buckeyemuse the following week. If you’re in the Cincinnati area, hope you can get down there and check this out. It’s become an important literary event in the midwest.


Patrick Kerin





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