The new novel by Victoria N. Alexander, Locus Amoenus, is a delight to read. It weaves an important modern-day tale while following the outline of William Shakespeare’s enduring tragedy, Hamlet. The Bard’s tale of Hamlet is a personal and community tragedy placed in a historical period in which the fight over the control of Hamlet’s native country ultimately leads to its subjugation to a foreign country. The characters woven into the Locus Amoenus story are no less tragic than Shakespeare’s, and the reader is left wondering just how the world of Alexander’s characters could have avoided being seduced into a current-day form of subjugation when the curtain comes down. Throughout her witty narrative, the author’s wry humor adds levity to her tale of today’s Hamlet. Continue reading
On Saturday, July 18th I’ll be at the NorthEast-Millerton Library at 1PM. Pick up a copy of Locus Amoenus at Oblong Books to bring with you to have signed. Here’s a piece from the June issue of Main Street Magazine.
The wonderful tiny library in the hamlet of Amenia will be hosting a book signing for Locus Amoenus, the story about Hamlet, set in Amenia. There will also be a book fair (with used books) and bake sale to raise money for the library. The Presbyterian Church behind the library will be hosting its annual strawberry fair in conjunction with the book fair. This time I won’t be sharing my book table with a celebrity author like last week in Millbrook. I will be sharing my table with muffins and scones baked by some of Amenia’s baking masters.
Please come out and support the library, which has been the heart of our life in Amenia for these last twelve years. Lucian got his library card when he was a week old. And the librarian, Mrs. Devine, was the first friend I made in the hamlet.
All proceeds from book sales to benefit the library. Unfortunately, I will only have a handful of preview copies available for sale. Last week the publisher let me know that the hardcover release has been delayed again for another week. Books ship on the 14th or so. But the Kindle and Nook versions have been released ahead of the hardcover.
Friends who have already read the preview copy of Locus Amoenus can now post reviews on Amazon. Please do so! For more info about the book go to http://amzn.to/1JwwkmO Get the Kindle version today or pre-order the hardcover at a big discount.
Book Review: Locus Amoenus
by Tonia Shoumatoff
When Victoria Alexander moved up to Amenia from Soho is 2003, she got the vibe that people thought she was a city person (a ‘citiot’ as she says in her novel) and that the locals did not think much of her. “They don’t like outsiders here,” she was told by her first friend, an older woman who has lived in Amenia for forty years. Continue reading
On May 30th, I’ll be participating in the best little literary festival in the Harlem Valley. The Festival will feature over fifty thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining authors and illustrators from the region participating in panel discussions, readings, and signings throughout the day, from 9:45 – 4:30 at the Millbrook Free Library on Franklin Street in Millbrook New York.
I will be signing copies of and answering questions about my latest novel, Locus Amoenus (Permanent Press, 192 pages). The story of is set in Amenia, which is right next door to Millbrook. I anticipate lots of locals at my table trying to find out if they appear in the story. No spoilers!
Here’s a brief synopsis In this dark comedy, a 9/11 widow and her son, Hamlet, have retreated from Brooklyn to the idyllic rural countryside upstate, where for nearly eight years they have run a sustainable farm. Unfortunately their outrageously obese neighbors, who prefer the starchy products of industrial agriculture, shun their elitist ways (recycling, eating healthy, reading). Hamlet, who is now 18, is beginning to suspect that something is rotten in the United States of America, when health, happiness and freedom are traded for cheap Walmart goods, Zoloft, endless war, standard curriculum, and environmental degradation. He becomes very depressed when, on the very day of the 8th anniversary of his father’s death, his mother marries a horrid, boring bureaucrat named Claudius. Things get even more depressing for Hamlet when his friend Horatio, a conspiracy theorist, claims Claudius is a fraud. The deceptions, spying, corruption, will ultimately lead, as in Shakespeare’s play, to tragedy.
For details see the festival website millbrookbookfestival.org.
The galleys (review copies) of Locus Amœnus came out today. Permanent, the publisher, will be sending them to Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly and various other trade review publications.
Okay, so maybe picking a Latin phrase, Locus Amœnus, with its weird spelling, for the title of my latest novel might make it a little hard for people to recommend it to friends. (If you order now from Amazon you can get 13% off.) Locus amœnus can be pronounced in English, Low cuss a men us, with stresses on “low” and “a.” In Latin you want to make “amœnus” sound more like “a moin us.” I have also heard amœnus pronounced “uh mean us.” Any of these are acceptable. This is America, after all.
Locus Amœnus means “pleasant location,” and it’s used in poetry to describe a restful place where nothing bad ever happens. It also happens to be the scene of the crime in many of Ovid’s tales, an idea which fits well with the theme of my novel. I couldn’t pass up this phrase for my title, despite its awkwardness, because the story is set in the rural upstate town of Amenia, a would-be pastoral paradise where I own a sheep farm. The name “Amenia” of course comes from the same Latin word as amœnus. Amenia is, by the way, variously pronounced as “Uh many uh” or “Uh meanie uh.”
The cover for Locus Amœnus, my new novel which will be out this spring, will feature the painting Silo Ridge by Tarryl Gabel. Gabel is an award-winning local painter, inspired by the Hudson River School, who continues to paint landscapes of this beautiful valley. Silo Ridge is the name of the old farmland (now a golf course) that is the town of Amenia’s claim to fame. It is one of the most, if not the most, beautiful views in the whole area. When my husband and I were looking for land to purchase, we drove all over the Catskills and Harlem Valley. When we went round the hill and were presented with this scene, we knew we wanted to make this area our home.
Click on the image for a larger view.
Here is the final cover design for Locus Amœnus, which will be released at the end of April. The novel is a dark comedy/tragedy, a revision of Hamlet set in rural upstate New York in 2009. I requested a graffiti font for the tile to add a bit of irreverence to contrast the pastoral scene. The designer chose to use a bullet-holes-and-blood font to make it look like a thriller. The story does involve an old murder, two accidental deaths, some bloody noses and an allusion to Shakespeare’s heap of bodies at the end of his play, but no one actually gets a mob-style hit in Locus Amœnus.