Read Easy: In the Sea, at the Beach House
Holly Nadler

A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR LANDLOCKED MERMAIDS by Margot Datz, Beyond Words, $16.

Vineyard artist and writer Margot Datz posits a universe where men, taking a page from Darwin, descended as apes from the trees, whereas women “rose up from the frothy sea, as resplendent as Aphrodite on her scalloped chariot.” But the mating call is more persistent than the tug of a thick rope, so we mermaids have “abandoned our psychic habitat to seek mates on shore, and we have been like fish out of water ever since.” Ain’t that the truth?

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America’s Middle Class, Listen Up
Mike Seccombe

The litany of complaints of the squeezed middle class is familiar.

Three million jobs gone overseas this decade. People working all their lives on the promise of pensions they don’t get. Declining availability of health care. Parents believing, for the first time in U.S. history, that their children will not do as well as they did.

“Everyone knows that recitation,” said Philip Dine.

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Find Simple Pleasures, Perfectly Formed
Holly Nadler

MARTHA’S VINEYARD QUIET PLEASURES. By Phyllis Meras with photographs by Betsy Corsiglia. Globe-Pequot Press, Guilford, Conn. 96 pages, $16.95 hardcover.

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Book Notes for Smaller Readers to Plug Into, Cuddle Up With
Holly Nadler

WIRED. By Anastasia Suen, illustrated by Paul Carrick. Charlesbridge, $6.95. This book, now out in paperback, is an excellent insight into how electricity works, particularly as it pertains to the energy dancing beneath our fingertips as they tap along a computer keyboard, and as it flows or, just as importantly, pauses, at the outlet under our desk. Ostensibly Wired is a learning tool for the elementary school student, but anyone of any age could benefit from it, for who among us outside of M.I.T.

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About a Boy, a Boat, and a Love of All Things Old and Wooden
Mark Alan Lovewell

SLOOP: Restoring My Family’s Wooden Sailboat, An Adventure in Old-Fashioned Values. By Daniel Robb. Simon & Schuster, New York, N.Y. 2007. 318 pages with photographs. $25.

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Whodunnit? Philip Craig, in Last Book
Holly Nadler

VINEYARD CHILL. By Philip R. Craig. Scribner. New York, N.Y. 2008. 256 pages. $24, hardcover.

A popular young Island barmaid has gone missing. An old buddy turns up who invariably brings trouble like a perverse hostess gift. It’s winter on Martha’s Vineyard and all’s well with J.W. Jackson, wife Zee, and their two small children — if you overlook a murder or two, and a couple of thugs rolling off the ferry in a yellow Mercedes convertible in search of ill-gotten loot.

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Book review: Remarkable Americans
Phyllis Meras

Remarkable Americans: > The Washburn Family. By Kerck Kelsey. Illustrated. Tilbury House Publishers. 402 pages. $25.95.

Since the 1950s, the Washburn name has been a familiar one in Edgartown, with the late Stanley Washburn living on South Water street in summer and C. Langhorne Washburn summering on Pease’s Point Way. This fact-filled volume tells the story of their 19th-century forebears from northern Maine.

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Nicole Galland’s History Novel Crosses Neatly into Modernity

CROSSED, a Tale of the Fourth Crusade. By Nicole Galland. Harper Paperbacks, New York, N.Y. 2008. 641 pages. $15.95 softcover.

Blending history with humor is a great way to communicate and Vineyard native Nicole Galland achieves this tender mix in her latest novel, Crossed, A Tale of the Fourth Crusade, in which she brings to life a disastrous medieval holy war.

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True Crime Story Unearths Clues to Murder
Holly Nadler

MYSTERY ON THE VINEYARD: Politics, Passion and Scandal on East Chop. The History Press, Charleston S.C. 2008. 160 pages. $19.99 softcover.

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Author Delves Into Passion and Scandal of Unsolved East Chop Murder Mystery

In Mystery on the Vineyard, author Tom Dresser delves into a grisly unsolved murder. Here is an extract from the new book. It was pre-World War II and a dapper off-Islander arrived, impressing the locals. Drawn to the prettiest girl, he was upset when an elderly woman tried to break up the romance.

This story happened on East Chop in Oak Bluffs nearly 70 years ago. The Red Sox led the American League in early June and John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath had recently been released as a movie, starring Henry Fonda.

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