Martha’s Vineyard Through Time by A.C. Theokas, Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, 96 pages $23.99

To walk through time, both the present and the past at one moment, is something we often do unconsciously in our minds, comparing what is right in front of us to the time we walked this way last week, last year or as a child.

But our mind’s eye can play tricks on us, turning memories a bit soggy. And what of those eras that existed long before we did — how to see now and then? A new book published in December by A.C. Theokas entitled Martha’s Vineyard Through Time, The Present in the Past, offers an answer, at least on the Island. Each page of the book includes a current photograph of a lighthouse, street, dock or playground, with a shot of the same location taken a hundred years earlier. The effect is astonishing, both individually and taken as a whole, marking both how much the Vineyard has changed and how little it has shifted in comparison to nearly every other tourist destination.

In some ways the only difference between two photographs of the Oak Bluffs Tabernacle on page 61 is the foliage and a fence. Ocean avenue today bears a striking resemblance to its much earlier form, as does Main street Edgartown and the Chappaquiddick Ferry.

The book is arranged by town, moving from down-Island to up-Island and includes descriptions with each set of photographs and should be on coffee tables or porch swings everywhere.


Light Headed in the Dark Ages, by Arnie Reisman, Somerset Press, 122 pages, $20.

To judge by the book flap of Arnie Reisman’s new collection of poetry is to get the idea that he is a funny writer. Billy Collins says so, as does comedian Lewis Black and playwright Robert Brustein. And they’re right. The Vineyard poet laureate from 2014-2016 is indeed funny. Consider this opening to his poem, It Is What It Is. “Poetry is what my mother warned me about/German girls, Mexican fruit, public toilets/And poetry.”

But to classify Mr. Reisman as a humorous poet does not do him justice. As fellow poet Donald Nitchie writes, “Reisman’s poems often begin with mundane or humorous observations, then swerve into more serious territory.”

Light Headed in the Dark Ages includes 118 poems. It’s tempting to go on with more excerpts, because in each one the journey from humor to depth, from light to dark, feels both effortless and full of weight. Such is the style Mr. Reisman employs, welcoming you to the table, arm around your shoulder, before seating you in a quiet room and asking in the nicest way possible that you pay attention, to the world today, to relationships, to yourself. And in each case humor does ride with you as triumphantly as a man named Horse Rossin.

“I picture Horse Rossin pushing an old lawn mower/Through a field of plans that didn’t work out that well/But somewhere in the undeveloped and overdeveloped/There are enough bright flowers to water any eye.”


Patriot or Traitor, by David Roseman, self published, 354 pages.

David Roseman is a retired judge of the Massachusetts superior court. When he left his day job and people stopped calling him Your Honor, he decided to make his life even more difficult by turning to writing, where indignity lurks for even the innocent and every blank page is guilty as charged.

And yet Mr. Roseman persevered, recently publishing his first novel that both adheres to the old edict to write what you know and lifts off into a journey of creativity. The prologue begins in 1941, two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, when a physicist working on the atomic bomb is killed in what is ruled a traffic accident. The story then leaps to Martha’s Vineyard, at the corner of Cooke and South Water streets, a place the author knows well from his years on the bench in the Edgartown courthouse.

The novel moves from the Vineyard to New York city to Washington D.C., from law school to court rooms to a murder on the Vineyard, which sets the pace for most of the book. It is a high-level murder of the Chief Justice of the United States, killed by bullet from a German hit man in broad daylight on the quiet streets of Edgartown in 1990.

There is a trial but whether the verdict is correct is part of the suspense, as are how the earlier events during World War II will play out in near present day.

Patriot or Traitor, innocent or guilty, it’s time for you to be the judge.


The Dog I Loved , by Susan Wilson, St. Martin’s Press, 356 pages, $26.99.

This is Susan Wilson’s 11th book, a list that includes her bestselling novel One Good Dog and Beauty which was made into a CBS Sunday Night Movie. The latest novel continues to showcase Ms. Wilson at her best, providing readers with a narrative that illustrates the many ways dogs make humans better people. Given the state of the world run by humans, that is not an easy job.

But mostly they make humans better by giving them something to love. The book consists of two narratives. In one, readers meet Rosie Collins, the youngest of six in a Charlestown family who finds herself in the “fluorescent world” of the Mid-State Correctional Facility, sentenced to 20 years for the death of her boyfriend Charles Montgomery Foster, a death Rosie contends was an accident.

After a few years in prison, Rosie is approved for a program training therapy dogs, and she bonds deeply with Shark, her first program dog. This is one of the strands that begins to connect her story to the book’s other narrative, the one starring the novel’s standout character, 35-year-old Afghanistan veteran Meghan Custer, whose main desires when deployed had been “to keep her soldiers out of harm’s way, conduct whatever mission they had been assigned, and get them all back home safely.”

To say more would be to give too much away.