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Archive for August, 2012

SAD VALENTINE

Through the years working as editor of Vermont Quarterly I’ve hung onto kind letters from readers thanking us for a particular story or praising the magazine in general. Usually they get a place on the wall for a while, until the point that they seem to be dated and might beg the question, “Huh, haven’t you heard anything good lately?” Then I stuff them in a drawer where I might stumble on them later and get a little geekish editor’s glow for a moment.

When the correspondence below  arrived in my mailbox last week, the cheery pink paper; pert, square envelope; and happy cursive had me thinking, “Oh, day of praise.” Not those words, but that sentiment.

So, I sliced it open eagerly, and was further heartened by the flowered print on the back of the stationery. Flipped it over to the bright lime green side. Still promising. Read: “Please remove from your mailing list. Thank you.” It was as if I plunged my letter opener into my chest.

Nobody likes to lose a reader. But we will set you free, gentle correspondent. And I will thank you for at least saying thank you.

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BREATHLESS

Last Saturday morning I had my second go at doing an interview on the run when alumnus author Caleb Daniloff ’94 and I took a seven or eight mile trot around the grounds at Shelburne Farms and talked about his soon-to-be-released book Running Ransom Road. My first running interview was with Professor Emeritus Bernd Heinrich—former national record holder in the 100k and a bestselling author—so Caleb is in good company there as both a runner and writer.

Transcribing the interview, a task which I’m 28 minutes and 42 seconds into, can be a fairly tedious process, one that is made all-the-more unpleasant by hearing one’s own voice. Not many people enjoy this, I think. (Really, is that how I sound?)

Alumnus author Caleb Daniloff and yours truly, VQ editor Tom Weaver, at Shelburne Farms post-run.

But transcribing talk on the run is not without its rewards—a key one being that the words recorded on my iPod put me right back on the trails and roads at Shelburne Farms a few days ago. I can see in my mind’s eye exactly where we were with every question along the way. I hear us huffing a bit more on the hills. I hear our footfalls (alarmingly thunderous at times) grow quiet as we step from gravel to grass. I hear things I hadn’t heard on the run; I’d missed that pileated woodpecker squawk by the farm garden.

Beyond those finer points, it’s a pleasure turning a keener ear than running allowed to Caleb’s thoughts about his memoir that explores his personal present and past via races through former “sinning grounds” (his phrase), a sober man revisiting his younger days and struggles with alcoholism.

As for exactly what was said on that run, you’ll have to wait for 25 minutes and 36 seconds more of transcription, and until the VQ Extra on-line edition comes out in early September. In the meantime, I’d suggest checking out the Running Ransom Road page on Facebook.

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