The Season: Local literature

Food, history, addiction, and a kid who can fly
By PHILIP EIL  |  December 11, 2013

The past year has brought a bumper crop of books from the little speck of earth we call “Rhode Island.” February brought The Obituary Writer, a new novel from the award-winning Providence-based writer Ann Hood. August brought Floating World, the latest collection of poems from our state poet laureate, Rick Benjamin. April and November brought nonfiction dispatches from our friends over on Fountain Street: first came Providence Journal editorial page editor Ed Achorn’s boozy, baseball-history romp, The Summer of Beer and Whiskey; then it was staff writer G. Wayne Miller’s Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights Into How You Think, co-written with Dr. Stephen Kosslyn.

We could go on and on about the local literary scene, but out of curatorial restraint (read: deadline pressure) we’ve plucked merely 10 volumes for your bedside table.

So grab a glass of nog and take a seat by the space heater. There’s readin’ to do.


Rhode Island Recipes: Creative, Healthy Cooking with Iconic Local Foods by Lydia Walshin and Jennifer Leal | $18.95

If by some freak chance you’re ever asked to prepare a feast based on the recent BuzzFeed article, “The 24 Most Rhode Island Things to Ever Happen,” this is your field guide.

Meatballs infused with Olneyville N.Y. System Hot Weiner Sauce Spice Mix? Check.

Chowder made with Iggy’s chopped clams? Yup.

“Buddy Lasagne,” made from the Mayor’s Own Marinara Sauce and Narragansett Creamery mozzarella? Mmm-hmm.

Plus, for those of you who have been using Del’s Lemonade mix in every dish of a three-course meal — say, a lemon caper sauce for linguine with asparagus, a lemon-herb vinaigrette for roasted potatoes, and a lemonade glaze for a lemon poppyseed cake — you’ll find validation here that you’re not clinically insane. (Those recipes are on pages 48, 60, and 70, respectively.)

Leal (who lives in Westerly) and Walshin (Glocester) also earn bonus points for their back cover, which features a photograph of the aforementioned ingredients — plus Chepachet Farms Pure Maple Syrup, Kenyon’s Home Ground Yellow Corn Meal, Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce, and other local treats — lined up in a row on the sand at Misquamicut Beach.


Flying Henry by Rachel Hulin | powerHouse Books | $12.95

Toddlers and new moms aren’t exactly our target demographic at the Phoenix. But, screw it. We just can’t stop staring at this baby flying floating magically under a graffiti-covered highway overpass.

That shot was taken at the parking lot underneath I-195 off Water Street in Providence, one of many Rhody locales, including the Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular and Portsmouth’s Green Animals Topiary Garden, where photographer Rachel Hulin’s son Henry soars. If this all sounds familiar, perhaps you encountered Hulin and Henry when their project went deservedly viral, flitting from Time magazine to BuzzFeed to the Today show to the online arts magazine Sight Unseen, where Hulin explained the process behind the prints. (Spoiler alert: Henry can’t actually fly.)

Sight Unseen is also where you’ll find our favorite outtake from the book: a whimsically badass pic of Henry flying up the stairs at the Providence Athenaeum. That shot was executed in only about five minutes, because, as Hulin explained, “For some reason I didn’t think the library would understand the project.”

We understand. Fly on, Henry.


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