Kiddie Pool 20/07/23

Comic check in
Free Comic Book Summer
, the Covid-era-reworking of Free Comic Book Day, kicked off in mid-July and continues into early September. Each Wednesday, a different handful of free, special for Free Comic Book Day comics are available. You can find a schedule of what’s hitting stores when at (with all-ages rated books scheduled each week). All-ages comic books set for release on Aug. 5 include LumberJanes: Farewell to Summer, The Tick, Zoo Patrol Squad: Kingdom Caper and Bibi & Miyu/The Fox & Little Tanuki. Check in with your favorite shop (you can find a list of stores on the Free Comic Book Day website) for their Free Comic Book Summer procedures. For example, at Double Midnight  Comics (which has shops at 245 Maple St. in Manchester and 67 S. Main St. in Concord;, customers can request the Free Comic Book Day comics on their release day, according to an email from the store back in July. At Jetpack Comics (37 N. Main St. in Rochester;, they’re offering a different free comic book every day (with a teen-rated and all-ages rated option each day as well), according to their website. They are also selling bags of 10 Free Comic  Book Day or other special or promo comics for $7 each week, with either an all-ages or teen-and-mature option (the bags are available for pickup or for mail order for an extra $7). 

Worlds of magic
The 2020 Bank of New Hampshire Children’s Summer Series continues at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester;, 668-5588) with Aladdinon Thursday, July 30, and Alice in Wonderland, Tuesday, Aug. 4, through Thursday, Aug. 6. The kid-friendly shows are at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and are about 45 minutes long. Tickets cost $10 and are only being sold over the phone.

See SEE Science
This weekend is the first of two scheduled “members only” weekends at SEE Science Center (200 Bedford St. in Manchester;, 669-0400). On Saturdays and Sundays (Aug. 1 & 2 and Aug. 8 & 9), the museum will offer admission by pre-reservation to members from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. (between 1 and 2 p.m., the staff will do a deep cleaning of the museum), according to the website. Guests will be asked to stay six feet apart, a temperature check will be done at the door and everybody above the age of 2 will be required to wear masks, the website said. Memberships start at $100 and include a year of free admission for everybody in a household, the website said. The museum will reopen to the general public weekends only starting Aug. 15 and, as with the member weekends, visitors will need to book a time slot in advance, according to a press release.

Reverse Plunkett replay?

Well, Cam Newton signing at this late date for a hitch in Foxboro was a bit surprising. But it was also a typical under-the-radar move that got universal approval throughout football punditry, where Coach B waited for the price to come to the right value as Newton languished on the market.

People are asking what it means for the 2020 Patriots. Prevailing wisdom says it’s one of the following: (a) he’s got cold feet on Jarrett Stidham, (b) he wants to see the kid earn it head-to-head vs. a name QB to see how Stidham fares under fire, (c) he still likes Stid but wants a better backup if things don’t go as planned, or (d) Brian Hoyer is a goner — again.

Another option is one I mentioned six weeks ago: that he’s trolling to see if Newton can be a 21st-century version of Jim Plunkett to be high-ceiling QB for the next four or five years. If it turns out like that, it’s appealing since JP led the Raiders to two Super Bowl wins after being released by the 49ers in 1979. That it came at 29 and just two years after paying the whopping bounty of three first-round picks, a second-rounder and starting QB Tom Owen to get him told you how washed up the 49ers brass thought the former Heisman winner and first overall 1971 pick was.

But the NFL’s Belichickian figure of the day, Oakland GM/owner Al Davis, signed him on the cheap. Not sure if he thought Plunkett could recapture the promise he showed being Rookie of the Year in New England or just that he’d be a better backup than he had. But after two years on the bench, when Dan Pastorini went down early in 1980 with his health and confidence restored he led Oakland/L.A. to those two Super Bowl wins in four years.

Not sure Newton will do that, but his 2015 MVP season says he has a huge upside and he’s a year younger than Plunkett when he was resurrected. I’ve got to think something like that’s going on in Bill’s mind.

Personally I was hoping if they could get a similar deal with Jameis Winston they’d sign him. That would have set up a perfect Tom-vs.-Bill competition where Tampa gets his QB and Bill takes theirs to see who does better without the other.

I know Winston threw a mind-boggling 30 picks, but he also threw 33 TD passes and his 5.190 yards is more than you-know-who has ever thrown for. Plus the only other time the Bucs used a first overall pick on a quarterback was for Vinny Testaverde in 1987. Guess who resurrected his career in Cleveland after busting in Tampa Bay? Coach B.

Here are a few more thoughts from a busy time even with no games going on:

• With the Black Lives Matter national anthem protests raging through the NFL season I’m guessing new Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser and his controversial tat of the hate group 3 Percenters are going to be under scrutiny in the year ahead.

• Given the history, the Patriots have no one to blame but themselves for the Cincinnati taping incident. But a lost third-round pick seems kind of steep if Bill didn’t send them there.

• If Hoyer does get cut I’m betting he ends up on the coaching staff as a just in case insurance policy.

• From defying medical advice and the NFLPA to leading those in-your-face 20-person workouts in hot spot Florida, to TB-12’s profiteering in hawking a questionable $45-a-month immunity supplement during the pandemic, Tom Brady is racking up a lot of “I don’t like that guy” points.

Yikes, Tom.

• Is it me or is Kendrick Perkins everywhere these days on all things NBA? Most notably by calling Kyrie Irving a fraud for his phony opposition to the NBA restart. But also for giving the first reason I’ll buy for the Rajon Rondo-Ray Allen feud. Most say it had to do with Ray leaving for archrival Miami, but Perk says it was for Allen being in favor of a rumored Chris Paul-for-Rondo trade. Rondo hates Paul, who he and I think is vastly overrated. It led to two near fights and their ejection during a game at the Garden, so it makes sense that Ray being in favor of dumping Rondo like that would send him around the bend.

• With the NBA announcing 16 players just tested positive for the virus it seems like going into a hot spot in the country to finish their season is going to be tricky. That bubble they’re playing in better be super hermetically sealed.

• Anybody hear when the Dustin Pedroia retirement press conference is scheduled for?

New Nepalese option

Gurung’s Kitchen opens inside Bunny’s Superette

You won’t see it right away when you step inside Bunny’s Superette in Manchester’s North End, but walk all the way across the store and you’ll find a new Nepalese takeout restaurant.

Gurung’s Kitchen, which opened for business on June 27, features a menu of authentic Nepalese dishes like steamed or fried momos, thukpa (noodle soup) and shapale (fried meat pies), all cooked to order. Owner Sarmila Gurung opened the eatery with the help of Pramod Nyaupane, her friend and former landlord, who owns Bunny’s Superette and Bunny’s Convenience on Elm Street. Both Gurung and Nyaupane are natives of Kathmandu.

“I used to cook for [Nyaupane] and he loves my cooking,” said Gurung, who remembers always helping her mother out in the kitchen growing up. “When I told him I was thinking I wanted to open a restaurant, he said, ‘If you’re really interested, I can help you.’ So that’s how we ended up opening the restaurant here.”

Because her restaurant’s space was formerly a butcher shop, Gurung said, it went under all kinds of renovations, including the introduction of new stoves, fryers, a freezer and a warmer.

Gurung’s Kitchen accepts takeout orders via phone or walk-in, as well as delivery through either DoorDash or GrubHub. Among the most popular items, Gurung said, have been the momos, which are dumplings filled with chicken, pork or vegetables. She said she has also offered bison meat, but said it’s been difficult to get regularly due to the pandemic. One order of momos yields eight dumplings, which are either steamed or fried, with the option to have them served in a homemade tomato sauce or chili sauce. You can also customize your order with a momo platter.

Other big sellers have been the chicken, pork or vegetarian chow mein, or the fried noodles with turmeric, cumin, coriander and other spices; the chicken, pork or vegetarian fried rice; and the thukpa, or noodle soup. When it’s available, Gurung will also make each of these dishes with bison meat as a protein option.

Some harder-to-find dishes available at the restaurant are shapale and pakoda. A common street food in Nepal, according to Gurung, shapale (pronounced sha-PAH-lee) features half-moon-shaped meat pies stuffed with either chicken or pork and deep fried. You get two pieces per order with a side of homemade sauce.

Pakoda, which Gurung described as being similar to hash browns, is also a Nepalese street food or snack featuring a mixture of potatoes, onions, flour and spices that’s deep fried.

“We have different kinds of customers right now,” Gurung said. “Our customers who come from Nepal … usually come here for the shapale and the pakoda, because they know it and they can’t easily find it here [in the United States].”

Gurung’s Kitchen offers a small selection of non-traditional items like french fries, chicken wings and chicken nuggets. There is also black tea, masala tea and mango lassi, a smoothie-like drink featuring a blend of fresh mango, yogurt and ice.

Since between 700 and 800 people usually come inside Bunny’s Superette every day, according to Gurung, she hopes her restaurant will continue to see new customers.

“We try to offer really fast service,” she said. “People come here first and order their food, then they go [shop for] their groceries and when they come back here their food is ready.”

Gurung’s Kitchen
75 Webster St., Manchester (inside Bunny’s Superette)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week
More info: Call 316-1540 or search “Gurung’s Kitchen” on Facebook

Ripe and ready

Pick-your-own blueberries and raspberries

After an unusually short season for strawberries at some local farms, pick-your-own blueberries and raspberries are back, now through July or into August, depending on the weather conditions and the status of the crops.

Samantha Fay of Sunnycrest Farm said too much precipitation late in the fall and inconsistent temperatures in the winter were to blame for the poor showing of strawberries.

“We only had [pick-your-own] strawberries for two days before we were picked out,” she said. “We usually have five beds, but this year we only had two, so we lost some.”

Blueberries and raspberries, on the other hand, have been going very well. Fay said both are available now for pick-your-own every day from 7 a.m. to noon.

Customers normally purchase a container and return to the farm stand after they’re finished picking to have it weighed. But in an effort to maintain social distancing and limit the amount of surface contact, Fay said all containers are being provided with a flat rate.

Similar measures are being taken at Apple Hill Farm in Concord, which is also offering pick-your-own blueberries and raspberries after recently concluding its strawberry season.

“Usually you have to come back into the farm stand and have [your berries] weighed, but we’ve eliminated that this year,” co-owner Diane Souther said.

According to Souther, some late varieties of blueberries at Apple Hill Farm are usually around until about mid-September. Raspberries will likely last another couple of weeks from now, depending on the weather.

“Raspberries like the heat, so they’ve been going full force and doing great with the hot days we’ve been having,” she said.

Apple Hill Farm is open for pick-your-own every Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon. While you’re not required to wear a mask while out on the farm picking berries, Souther said the farm does ask customers to wear one inside the farm stand and to keep children close by.

At Berrybogg Farm in Strafford, blueberries are ripening right on schedule, according to owner Julie Butterfield. For the first time this year you can call the farm to schedule a pickup for blueberries they’ll pick for you.

Bob Marr of Durocher Farm in Litchfield, which features three acres of more than 2,500 blueberry bushes for picking, said there are separate designated entrances and exits for pickers.

Masks are recommended, but not required. Picking hours are daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., with additional evening hours on Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m.

“We have an outstanding crop this year,” Marr said. “We have five varieties that extend our picking season into late August.”

At Berry Good Farm in Goffstown, pick-your-own blueberries are available seven days a week. Co-owner Rich Bailey said more checkout stands on the farm and extra parking have been implemented to encourage social distancing.

“It’s different every year, but a lot of times we’ll make it until the end of August,” Bailey said. “We have five to six different varieties that last for quite a while.”

Where to pick your own blueberries and raspberries
Most of these local farms will offer pick-your-own blueberries through the middle or the end of August, depending on the weather conditions and the availability of the crop. Some also offer a few varieties of raspberries as well. Do you know of a farm offering pick-your-own blueberries or raspberries that isn’t on this list? Let us know at

Apple Hill Farm
580 Mountain Road, Concord, 224-8862,
What: Blueberries and raspberries
Picking hours: Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon

Berry Good Farm
234 Parker Road, Goffstown, 497-8138, find them on Facebook
What: Blueberries
Cost: $3.09 per pound (cash or checks only)
Picking hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Berrybogg Farm
650 Province Road, Strafford, 664-2100,
What: Blueberries
Cost: $2.75 per pound ($2.65 per pound for seniors)
Picking hours: Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Blueberry Bay Farm
38 Depot Road, Stratham, 580-1612,
What: Blueberries and raspberries
Picking hours: Daily, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Blue Moon Berry Farm
195 Waldron Hill Road, Warner, 410-9577, find them on Facebook
What: Blueberries
Picking hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Brookdale Fruit Farm
41 Broad St., Hollis, 465-2240,
What: Blueberries and raspberries
Cost: Blueberries are $3.25 per pound; raspberries are $5 per pint
Picking hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Carter Hill Orchard
73 Carter Hill Road, Concord, 225-2625,
What: Blueberries
Picking hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., when blueberries are available; calling ahead is recommended.

Durocher Farm
157 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, 494-8364,
What: Blueberries
Picking hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m., now through mid-August.

Grandpa’s Farm
143 Clough Hill Road, Loudon, 783-4384,
What: Blueberries
Cost: $2.75 per pound
Picking hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to dusk

Grounding Stone Farm
289 Maple St., Contoocook, 748-2240,
What: Blueberries
Picking hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kimball Fruit Farm
Route 122, on the Hollis and Pepperell, Mass., border, 978-433-9751,
What: Blueberries
Picking hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Lavoie’s Farm
172 Nartoff Road, Hollis, 882-0072,
What: Blueberries
Cost: $3.99 per pound
Picking hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Norland Berries
164 N. Barnstead Road, Barnstead, 776-2021,
What: Blueberries
Cost: $2.50 per pound ($2.25 per pound for seniors)
Picking hours: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m

Pustizzi Fruit Farm
148 Corn Hill Road, Boscawen, 496-1924, find them on Facebook
What: Blueberries
Picking hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Rossview Farm
85 District 5 Road, Concord, 228-4872,
What: Blueberries
Picking hours: Opens daily at 7:30 a.m.; closing times vary depending on the crop and the weather conditions

Saltbox Farm
321 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham, 436-7978, find them on Facebook
What: Blueberries and raspberries
Cost: Blueberries are $4 per pound; raspberries are $5.65 per pound
Picking hours: Tuesday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stark Farm
30 Stark Lane, Dunbarton, 854-2677,
What: Blueberries
Picking hours: Sunday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; calling ahead the day of or the night before is recommended.

Sunnycrest Farm
59 High Range Road, Londonderry, 432-7753,
What: Blueberries and raspberries
Picking hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to noon

Featured Photo: Blueberries from Berry Good Farm in Goffstown. Courtesy photo.

Blueberry balsamic salad dressing
Courtesy of Diane Souther of Apple Hill Farm in Concord

1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt and pepper

Slightly simmer the blueberries in the water. After they soften up, whip them slightly and add in the remaining ingredients. Stir together and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Drizzle on fresh green salad, or use as a marinade on grilled chicken or fish.

Big Nana’s blueberry buckle
Courtesy of Rich Bailey of Berry Good Farm in Goffstown

¼ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk
2 cups blueberries
½ teaspoon salt

For the crumb topping (ingredients blended together):
½ cup soft butter
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter, add sugar and beat until light. Add egg and beat well. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk and beat until smooth. Fold in blueberries. Pour into a greased 9x9x2 pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

Just keep running

How to challenge yourself to get going, stay at it and get in a race — even now

Two years ago, I got my dad a shirt that says “I’m a streaker,” and he gets endless enjoyment out of allowing strangers to think he is in the habit of taking off his clothes and running naked in public. In reality, it’s a Runner’s World shirt created for crazy people like my dad who have (fully clothed) running streaks of days, months or years.

You don’t have to run every day, or far, or quickly, to reap the benefits of running. Find out how and why to get off the couch, why streaks are, in fact, awesome (should you choose to go that route), and why running a virtual race is a great way to alleviate the fear of the starting line.

Just do it

One of the best things about running is how easy it is to get started, no matter what your fitness level is, how much time or money you have — or how much you dread the thought of being seen by your neighbors as you struggle, red-faced and sweaty, around the block.

Millennium Running owner John Mortimer watched his mom become a runner, starting by walking one mile a day — and only at night.

“She would put her reflective vest on in the cover of darkness and walk the mile,” Mortimer said.

She then started adding jogging intervals, going from one mailbox to the next while jogging, then walking to the next, and so on. She worked her way up to three laps — three miles — and then ran her first 5K.

“You can take baby steps,” Mortimer said. “It’s literally just about trying to move a little bit each day.”

Christine Lewis, co-owner of Total Image Running with business partner Lisa Misiaszek, has similar stories; she’s been training runners for more than two decades. She remembers training a friend, Lisa Trisciani, who had lost 100 pounds and set a goal to run the Disney half marathon. But she had never run before and was afraid to take that first step because she thought people would judge her. Lewis worked with her on walk/jog intervals as well as strength, core and balance training.

“Within eight weeks Lisa ran her first 5K,” Lewis said. “We continued to train and she ran the Disney half and crushed it.”

Trisciani has since run several full marathons, relay events and half marathons.

“You’re never too young, too old or too out of shape to start running,” Lewis said.

Gear up

“The best part about running is you don’t need a gym membership or fancy, expensive equipment to begin,” Lewis said. “Just get yourself a good pair of running sneakers and step out your front door.”

She recommends getting fitted for running shoes at a specialty running store such as Runner’s Alley.

The Millenium Running retail store in Bedford can help you find the right shoes too, taking you through a full fit process that includes gait analysis.

Running too much in the wrong shoe can turn you off to the sport altogether, whether it’s because the shoes themselves are uncomfortable or because they cause aches and pains.

“I think runners or walkers often stop doing it because it starts to hurt,” Mortimer said.

Other gear might include reflective vests or headlamps for safety if you’re running in the dark.

But other than the right shoes, “There’s nothing overly critical that you need,” Mortimer said.

Start slow, but stick with it

Mortimer has three key suggestions to help people get in the right mindframe to start running. First, he says, is to find your motivation. Why do you want to start running? It could be to improve your heart health, to lose weight for a wedding or to change your lifestyle. Keeping that motivation in mind will help you commit to yourself mentally and emotionally.

Second, Mortimer says, is to be consistent; if you stop doing it after a week, you haven’t gained anything from the experience.

“But that doesn’t mean you have to run 10 miles every day,” he said.

Lewis agrees.

“The reason people get discouraged quickly is because they do too much too soon,” Lewis said. “Don’t plan to run the entire time. Start with very short jog/walk intervals, doing more walking than running at first. Do not be ashamed to walk. It’s all part of the process. Listen to your body and take a break when and if you need it.

Similarly, Mortimer’s third guideline is to be patient. You’re not going to see results overnight — you won’t lose five pounds overnight, and you won’t be able to go from running zero miles a day to running three overnight.

Lewis also recommends cross training, doing things like strength training and yoga to keep your body strong and limber. Mixing it up and balancing your body will help you stick with it, too, she said.

“It will help keep you injury-free and [avoid becoming] bored of the same running routine day in, day out,” she said.

Find support

There are all kinds of running clubs in New Hampshire, including the Millenium Running Club, the Runner’s Alley Club, and the Total Image Running Run Walk Brew Social Club. Becoming part of a club helps you meet other runners who will offer support and motivation.

“Our club is not just about running,” Lewis said. “It’s about motivating each other to work out then celebrate with socializing and a brew.”

Most clubs welcome all fitness levels and abilities, so even if you hesitate to call yourself a runner, well, you are.

“If you’re putting one foot in front of the other, you’re part of the running family,” Mortimer said.

Start streaking

Streaking runs in my family (yes, the terrible pun was unavoidable). My dad’s longest was 9,056 days; my uncle’s was 10,328 days (that’s more than 27 years of running every. single. day.). My cousin made it just past 1,000 days. It took an operation for prostate cancer to end my dad’s streak, and knee surgery to end my uncle’s.

I’m not a professional runner, but I have joined the streaking club (I’ll hit 1,000 days Aug. 16, barring injury or heat stroke), which I would say makes me qualified enough to tell you why running streaks are good for your mind, body and soul, whether you’ve never run before or you’ve run marathons.

1. They’re motivating. A streak will get you out the door when nothing else will. It was 96 degrees the other day, and the humidity brought the “feels like” temp to well over 100. If I didn’t have a streak to maintain, I absolutely would not have laced up my Sauconys and headed out for a run. I would have continued sitting on the deck in the shade at my parents’ cottage on the lake, justifying to myself that it was definitely too hot to run.

When I started this streak, I had no goal in mind. My thought was that I’d just run every day until I had a good enough reason not to and that hasn’t happened yet. Snowstorms, heat waves, being insanely busy none of those are real excuses. Dress warmly and watch for plows, dress lightly and drink plenty of fluids, bring running shoes everywhere so you can run after dropping one kid off at soccer practice but before picking up the other kid at football — “I have to run” means you figure it out. Without a streak, a million excuses can get in your way.

2. They’re better for your body than a Netflix streak. Again, I’m not a professional, and many runners and doctors might cringe at the whole concept of a running streak because rest days! but I personally think the pros outweigh the risks. (Still, talk to a doctor before starting any serious fitness endeavor or if you have any preexisting conditions or concerns.)

Every body is different, and so far mine is holding up just fine. In fact, I would argue that I’m healthier now than ever before. When I started running in my early 30s, I couldn’t even finish a mile without walking. I’m not a natural athlete, and I spent the first 30+ years of my life doing very little in the way of exercise. Now, I generally feel better, I’m stronger, and all my vitals are fantastic. If I weren’t streaking, I would choose the couch more often than not.

Still, if you’re sick, achy, or just not feeling it, there’s no need to overexert yourself. The running community generally sees one mile a day as the minimum you need to keep your streak intact. It’s unlikely you will die while running or jogging one mile if you don’t have any medical issues. But, you know, bring your phone just in case.

3. They keep you sane. Perhaps even more importantly than the physical benefits, my streak has provided a no-excuses outlet to clear my mind and alleviate stress. It’s built-in self care; my kids are almost always my priority, but because of this streak, I sometimes choose running over their wants and needs (I know, the audacity). If I didn’t “have” to run every day, I probably would put them — or work, or laundry, or lawn mowing — first 99 percent of the time. Running is my outlet. It’s where I can clear my head or think things through. I don’t even listen to music. I like the silence, the sound of rain, the quiet when the roads are covered in snow and no one else is crazy enough to be out. Not every run is amazing, and sometimes all I want is for it to be over. But I have never, ever regretted going for a run.

4. They make memories! Having to run means I sometimes have to carve out time in creative ways, and I’ve had some great experiences come out of that. I once ran laps around a parking garage at the Fort Lauderdale airport during a layover. During a trip out west last summer that was jam-packed with sightseeing and driving, I ran along the Grand Canyon, at Yellowstone (while stuck in not-moving traffic for more than two hours due to a herd of buffalo crossing the road), on a trail at the Grand Tetons, in a parking lot at Mesa Verde, in four states at once at Four Corners, and, less glamorously, on random roads when my family stopped for food on long days of driving. One of my favorite runs ever was with my brother on a snowy Christmas Day that was otherwise not very festive. I’ve also run races with my dad, my brother and my kids, because why not get some swag and have some family fun when you have to run anyway?

5. Anyone can do it. Your streak can be whatever you want it to be you make the rules. Run a little, run a lot, have an end goal in mind or just keep going until you can’t or don’t want to anymore. Some people do holiday streaks, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Some people start with 30 days. Just start and see what happens. That’s what I did and now I’m the proud owner of my very own “I’m a streaker” shirt.

Race your way

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running for years, races can provide motivation in the form of time goals, finishing goals and community support — and the swag doesn’t hurt either.

Of course, the racing landscape looks a little different right now. The cancellation of road races in the spring quickly led to a transition to virtual races. Many organizations that typically held 5Ks as fundraisers turned them into virtual runs, and companies like Millennium Running in Bedford and Total Image Running in Auburn, which organize runs throughout the state, did the same.

There are some benefits to virtual runs, including their flexibility — most races offer a range of days and times you can run, and you can typically run anywhere you want.

Virtual runs can minimize race jitters, too.

“The fear of the starting line, the fear of that first step, is sometimes mitigated by [running virtually],” said John Mortimer, owner of Millennium Running in Bedford.

Millennium reintroduced in-person runs several weeks ago with exclusive 5Ks, keeping them to 100 participants, with two races every Saturday. The runners start one at a time, every five or 10 seconds, to avoid crowds gathering at the starting line and bunching up on the course.

Participants are taking the changes in stride, Mortimer said.

“By and large I think our running community has been super positive,” he said.

Virtual runs

Here’s a list of upcoming virtual races that under normal circumstances would be held at various locations around southern New Hampshire this summer and fall. A few are offering the option of running virtually or in person. Many races benefit local organizations. Check event websites for up-to-date information.

• There’s still time to participate in the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series’ Christmas in July Virtual 5K, going on now through July 25. Prizes will be awarded to the first-place male and female finisher. Registration costs $30 and includes a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Saturday, July 25. Visit

Goffstown’s Berry Classic Road Race is going on now through July 26. Participants must run a continuous five miles, which they can do on the five-mile loop around the Piscataquog River in Goffstown or at another location of their choosing. Registration costs $20 and closes on July 26 at noon. Visit

• Swimming with a Mission presents Virtual Swim with a Mission. Participants can swim, paddle or kayak any body of water now through July 31. There are 1K, 5K and 10K options. Registration is free and closes on July 24. Visit

• The Colon Cancer Coalition presents Get Your Rear in Gear virtually. To participate, do a physical activity of your choosing between now and Saturday, Sept. 12, then join the virtual event on Facebook on Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. Registration is free. Visit

• The Fox Point Sunset 5 Mile Virtual Road Race is open now through Saturday, Sept. 12. Run, walk or bike a five-mile course anywhere. Registration costs $10. Visit

• The Total Image Running Virtual Race Series presents the Hula Hustle Virtual 5K & 10K from July 26 through Aug. 9. Register by July 24. The cost is $30 for the 5K and $35 for the 10K and includes a race T-shirt, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. Visit

• The Cigna/Elliot Corporate Virtual Challenge & 5K will be held July 27 through Aug. 23 and is open to corporate teams and individuals. Participants are challenged to run or walk every day to train for the virtual 5K, which they can complete between Aug. 20 and Aug. 23. Registration costs $25 per person and includes a race bib and race mask. The registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 14, at 9 a.m. Visit

• Granite Ledges of Concord’s Race to the Ledges 5K Run/Walk will be held virtually from July 31 through Aug. 9. The deadline to register is Aug. 7. Registration costs $20 now through Aug. 5 and $25 on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7. Visit

• The Alton NH Old Home Week Virtual 5K will take place Aug. 8 through Aug. 16. Registration costs $15 and closes on Aug. 16 at noon. Visit

Lamprey Health Care’s Annual 5K Road Race will be held virtually from Aug. 8 through Aug. 16. Registration costs $25 and closes on Aug. 16. Visit

• You can do the Wine Run 4 Miler in person in Auburn, or you can do it virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. The race takes place on Thursday, Aug. 13. Registration for the virtual race costs $35 and includes a race T-shirt or tank top, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. Registration is limited to 300 participants, so register soon. Visit

• The Saunders at Rye Harbor 5K will take place virtually from Aug. 13 through Aug. 20. Participants can do a run or a competitive walk. The deadline to register is Wednesday, Aug. 19, at noon. Registration costs $30 and includes a race T-shirt. This race is a part of the Seacoast Road Race Series. Visit

• The Sabine Strong 3.3 will be held virtually on Sunday, Aug. 30. Registration costs $35 and closes on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at noon. Visit

• The Marcus Warner Memorial 5K Race will take place virtually on Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6. Registration costs $10 and closes on Sept. 5 at noon. Visit

• Veterans Count presents the Wolfeboro Pirates Cove 5K Fun Run & Walk from Saturday, Sept. 5, through Monday, Sept. 7. Registration costs $25 for runners and walkers age 13 and up and $15 for service members, veterans and children age 12 and under and includes a printable bib and finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Friday, Sept. 4, at noon. Register by Aug. 12 to receive a free long-sleeved race T-shirt. Visit

• Join the 12th annual Celebrate Pink 5K Run & Walk virtually between Monday, Sept. 7, and Sunday, Sept. 13. Registration costs $30 for adults and $20 for youth under age 14 and closes on Sept. 13, at noon. Register by Aug. 14 to receive a free race T-shirt. Visit

• The Hunger is the Pitts 5K will be held on Thursday, Sept. 17, in person in Auburn and virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. Registration for the virtual race costs $30 and includes a race T-shirt or tank top, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 16. Visit

• The 15th annual CHaD HERO will be held virtually from Oct. 4 to Oct. 18. Participants can run, walk, hike or bike, or they can complete their own “Virtual Quest” activity like hiking the Appalachian Trail or racing across the state. A virtual celebration with live music, special guests, raffle prizes and more will take place on Sunday, Oct. 18. Registration costs $15; register by Oct. 17. Visit

• You can walk or run the Great Island 5K in person in New Castle or virtually on Sunday, Oct. 11. Registration costs $25 and closes on Oct. 10 at noon. This race is part of the Seacoast Road Race Series. Visit

• The TangerFIT Virtual 5K takes place Oct. 11 through Oct. 18. Registration costs $25 for participants age 16 and up $15 for youth age 15 and under and closes on Friday, Oct. 2, at noon. Visit

• The Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire presents its Howl-O-Ween 5K virtually from Thursday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Oct. 18, with a finish line celebration on Facebook Live on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. Registration costs $30 for participants age 13 and up, $20 for youth age 12 and under and an extra $5 to include your dog as an official participant. The registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 16, at noon. Electronic bibs will be emailed to participants the week of the race. Register by Sept. 12 to receive a free race T-shirt. Visit

• The Pumpkin Regatta 10K takes place on Sunday, Oct. 18, in person in Goffstown and virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. Registration for the virtual race costs $35 and includes a race T-shirt, a print-at-home bib, a training plan and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Saturday, Oct. 17. Visit

• The Seacoast Half Marathon is going virtual. Participants can do a 5K, quarter-marathon (6.55 miles) or half-marathon anywhere, any day between Oct. 31 and Nov. 8. Standard registration costs $15. Registration for the 5K or quarter-marathon that includes a long-sleeve race T-shirt costs $35, and registration for the half-marathon that includes a long-sleeve race T-shirt and finishers medal costs $40. Registration closes on Saturday, Oct. 31 at noon. Visit

• Veterans Count, an Easterseals program, presents Penmen for Patriots Virtual 5K from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30. Registration costs $30 and includes a race bib and long-sleeve T-shirt. The registration deadline is Monday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. Visit

Photo: Meghan Siegler proudly wears her “I’m a streaker” shirt on a (slow, walking) hike with her kids, Ben and Eisley, who have been very supportive of her streak despite constantly hearing things like “I’ll be back in time for the second inning” and “We can’t — I still have to run.”

Signs of Life 20/07/23

All quotes are from The Flame Trees of Thika, by Elspeth Huxley, born July 23, 1907.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) The prospect of a party, even if it consisted only of one guest with nothing beyond a clean pair of socks in his saddle-bag, always gave Tilly’s eye a sparkle and her laugh a new contagious gaiety. Party time!

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) A simple grass hut could be built in a couple of days, but this needed organization…. You can’t just throw grass in a heap and expect a hut.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) ‘… And when the coffee’s made a fortune for you, what will you do with it?’ ‘I don’t know what comes first,’ Tilly answered. ‘Robin wants a castle in Scotland, and I should like a safari across the Northern Frontier into Abyssinia and home by the Nile. And then I’d like to own a balloon, and to breed New Forest ponies, and to get to China on the trans-Siberian railway, and to have a model poultry farm, and buy a Daimler, and fish in Norway — oh, and lots of other things.’ Yeah, sure, just snap your fingers and it’s yours.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) So that was why she was upset …. He did not know the reason, and went off thinking her careless and touchy. Avoid misunderstandings.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) My reply caused the sort of laughter any child dislikes, because it has a ring of patronage; but Juma had made a meringue-crusted pudding with which I was able to console myself…. There is pudding for you.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) I became friends with Sammy. To the Kikuyu he was stern and often arrogant, but to us he was always polite and dignified. Spread kindness to everyone.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) I discovered gradually that a legend existed to fit every bird and beast … they were for women and old men to repeat to children in the smoky, firelit evenings.

Pay attention at story time.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) ‘But what will I do for the dinner,’ she cried in deep distress, ‘when there’s no prime beef to be had in the country, and no decent turkeys either, and the fowls the size of starlings, and the mutton tough as old boots?’ Cereal. Or salad.

Aries (March 21 – April 19) In our circle of cool shade … we inhabited a different world from the sun-soaked Kikuyu ridges that stretched to meet a far, enormous sky…. It was as if we sat in a small, darkened auditorium gazing out at a stage which took in most of the world. All you need is one good tree.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) An ant carrying a speck of food hurried across the dusty plain under Lettice’s eye. With a twig, she gently pushed it aside to change its direction, but each time it turned back to resume the course on which it was set. Ant beats twig.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) … I was allowed to help scoop moist earth round the seedlings, and press it in with my fingers, which had all the delight of making mud pies with the added pleasure of utility…. Got mud? Make pie!

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) She disapproved of romantics, but of course was one herself, though she concealed it like a guilty secret. Self-acceptance is important.

The Music Roundup 20/07/23

One-man band: When all the pieces are engaged, Lee Ross delivers a bold, brassy sound that definitely seems like it’s coming from a crowded stage, not a Boston-based solo performer with a boatload of musical chops. Ross tricks out his keyboards to mimic a rhythm section, plays saxophone and flute, sings and loops it all to amazing effect — the magic of a big band, no social distancing needed. Thursday, July 23, 7 p.m., Penuche’s Music Hall, 1087 Elm St., Manchester. See

Salt the rim: Kenny Chesney doppelganger Dan Wray, who’s also front man for No Shoes Nation, a Chesney tribute act now in its fourth year, helps celebrate National Tequila Day. Yes, that’s a thing, and no, it’s not a legal holiday even if it should be. Hits like “Guitars and Tiki Bars” will rev things up, with a giveaway of a Charbroil Smoker, essential equipment for backyard parties, adding to the fun. Friday, July 24, 6 p.m., Village Trestle, 35 Main St., Goffstown. See

Join in blues: Bring a guitar, harmonica or voice to a jam hosted by blues band Catfish Howl. The afternoon confab happens outdoors under the tent, with proper space between the players. The Manchester group features Zydeco aficionado Glenn Robertson, and its name comes in part from Professor Catfish Bill, who sings and plays percussive instruments like the washboard. Saturday, July 25, 2 p.m., Area 223, 254 N. State St. (Smokestack Center), Concord. See

Shell it out: Enjoy al fresco music in the local bandshell with Lunch at the Dump, an inventively named roots band that’s closing in on 50 years together. They began in the spring of 1972 as a loose group of pickers learning to play their guitars, fiddles, banjos and mandolin. Reportedly, a “chance encounter with a carrot cake at the local landfill” prompted their moniker. Tuesday, July 28, 6:30 p.m., Angela Robinson Band Stand, Community Park, Henniker. See

Music City bound

Amanda McCarthy makes her move

With a combination of innate talent and plucky determination, Amanda McCarthy has become a fixture on the regional music circuit, from the Seacoast to the White Mountains. She’s recorded and released multiple albums of original songs the latest, Epilogue, arrives in the fall while performing covers to fuel her dream of being a full-time musician.

Like many before, McCarthy’s time in the trenches playing bars and restaurants led to an inevitable conclusion that it was time to try her luck in a major market.

“People like my original music in New Hampshire, but there’s not really an original music industry here,” she said in a recent phone interview.

So, after a few more gigs, including a farewell bash with some of her musical friends on Aug. 1 at Long Cat Brewery in Londonderry, Amanda McCarthy is moving to Nashville. The goal, she said, is to live in a milieu that makes her artistic development more possible.

“I love playing for people,” she said. “Even if it’s playing covers, I really, truly enjoy it. But I know in my heart I love writing songs; that’s why I went into music in the first place.”

In the past year, McCarthy’s relationship with U.K.-based Evolved Artists has encouraged her to take the next step.

“I’ve been working with them as a songwriter … sending demos that they’ve been sent off to their contacts,” she said. “I figured if I was lucky enough to land an opportunity like that being in New Hampshire, then what else can I accomplish when I’m actually down there where things are really happening?”

“Here,” a preview track from her new album that will be officially released at the Long Cat farewell show, offers insight into the urgency McCarthy feels about testing the water in that “very big pond” now instead of later.

“All my friends are running off to chase their dreams, from Hollywood to Tennessee, oh but I’m still here,” she sings. “I vow, I’ll make it out of here somehow.”

McCarthy is encouraged by area musicians she’s met who’ve headed south like Tom Dixon, Sam Robbins, Morgan Clark and Stacy Kelleher, along with others she hasn’t.

“I don’t know Brooks Hubbard personally but I know of him,” she said. “I know he’s down there; I’d love to get in touch with him at some point.”

As she begins to wend her way into the Nashville community, McCarthy has the valuable currency of a good story to tell the one about her close encounter last March with New Hampshire’s most well-known rock star, Steven Tyler. It’s an experience she calls “the second best day of my life after having my daughter.”

As she and her boyfriend drove to her gig at Salt hill Shanty near Lake Sunapee, McCarthy mused that the Aerosmith singer, who owns a home there, might be in the crowd. The two were joking, but things got real as she finished her encore and spotted him at a table with friends.

She had a choice to make.

“I stood there for about 30 seconds,” she said, “then I said into the microphone, ‘I don’t know if this is kosher, but if I don’t do it I’m gonna hate myself,’” and proceeded to play a flawless version of “Angel” after which she was unable to eat or drink anything.

“I was just literally dumbfounded,” she said. “One, that he was there, and two, that I just did that. At some point I decided I didn’t want to go bother him; I’ve read his autobiography and he really just values being a normal person.”

So she began to pack up and load out, only stopping to send a copy of her Road Trip CD and a note with thanks for being an inspiration over to Tyler’s table.

When she heard Tyler say, “Wait, she’s still here?” McCarthy knew her magical day hadn’t ended yet. He came over and the two had a happy chat.

“He was so kind and down to earth, and he just talked to me; not like I was some dumb kid 40 years younger than him … like a human,” she said. “It was one of the kind of things completely above my expectations.”

Asked what she’ll miss most from her home state, McCarthy quickly replied, “one hundred percent the ocean” she lived in Hampton for four years. She’ll also treasure the camaraderie of the New England music community.

“From Day 1, when I was 19 years old and didn’t know what I was doing, they gave me a shot and made me feel welcome. Between Penuche’s and people like Paul Costley, they allowed me to be a full-time musician, which was all I really wanted. I’m going to miss being able to do that down there … but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it in the long run.”

Amanda McCarthy & Friends
Saturday, Aug 1, 6 p.m.
Where: Long Cat Brewing, 298 Rockingham Road, Londonderry

The Outpost (R)

Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

U.S. Army soldiers operating in a remote corner of Afghanistan find themselves under attack in The Outpost, which is based on a true story told, among other places, in a book called The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor written by CNN’s Jake Tapper.

The movie takes place at what is eventually called Camp Keating, after Capt. Benjamin Keating (Orlando Bloom), the outpost’s commander as the movie opens. It doesn’t take military expertise to understand that this outpost is a bad scene — it is surrounded on three sides by mountains, putting the outpost and its personnel at the bottom of a bowl. Taliban soldiers can easily find a position on the mountains from which they can take easy shots at fighters throughout the camp. And they do, nearly every day, we’re told. For a while, the tension of bullets (and later mortars) entering the camp at any moment relaxes only at night because the Taliban fighters don’t have night vision.

We meet many of the soldiers who man this outpost, attempting to build relationships with the local population. What feels like oodles of people are introduced with on-screen IDs and we learn bits of information about lives back home. Ultimately, the men we probably spend the most time with are Specialist Ty Carter (Caleb Landry Jones), Lt. Andrew Bundermann (Taylor John Smith) and Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha (Scott Eastwood). The camp has a series of commanding captains, whom we also meet, each of whom has a different leadership style that presents a different set of challenges; their introductions serve as sort of chapters to the story as the movie builds to what we’re told from the beginning is definitely coming: the big one. That is how the soldiers refer to the inevitable attack by overwhelming numbers of Taliban using the advantage of the mountains to attempt to overrun the camp.

By the end of The Outpost, I completely understood all the storytelling decisions made in this story, which runs a little more than two hours and begins the most intense action (the predicted “big one”) a little more than an hour in. I feel like there was a version of this movie that could have slid in at fewer than 90 minutes and, similar to Tom Hanks’ recent Greyhound (which The Outpost sort of reminded me of), confined itself to the core of the fight. But Greyhound’s source material is a novel based on World War II events and this is a true story featuring soldiers who are real people, alive and deceased, with still living parents and spouses and children, and I understand why the movie puts such emphasis on having the audience learn everybody’s name and get at least a slice of backstory even when it feels like information overload.

The movie also stays away from having an overt point of view about the war and the larger politics involved. Instead, its criticism is pointed at military decisions made in reference to the outpost from its very existence in this (as the movie describes at the end) “obviously indefensible” location to various bad-call requests and decisions made by military officialdom elsewhere. The story’s focus is on the men, their bravery in their defense of each other and their ability to think on their feet and adapt when what seems like an unwinnable fight begins. B

Rated R for war violence and grisly images, pervasive language, and sexual references, according to the MPA on Directed by Rob Lurie with a screenplay by Eric Johnson, The Outpost is two hours and three minutes long and distributed by Screen Media Ventures. The movie is available for rent.

Book Review 20/07/23

Parakeet, by Marie-Helene Bertino (224 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The bride, “ethnically ambiguous,” has been banished to a luxurious inn, sent there by the groom a week before the wedding to decompress.

The groom, an elementary school principal, had proposed after five dates. The bride describes him like this: “He will never lie to me and he will never make me howl with laughter.” His family is composed of academics who each look “perpetually poised to ask a question after a great deal of thought.” Of course she said yes.

At the inn on Long Island, there is ambivalence and fear, not the normal pre-wedding jitters, but weapons-grade anxiety, the sort that makes it entirely plausible that a dead grandmother will show up in the form of a bird and make demands of the bride.

She was a “a rueful bird endowed with death’s clarity,” as acerbic in death as in life. She both warbled and cussed, and she soiled the bride’s wedding dress before she left.

Such is the powerful beginning to Parakeet by Marie-Helene Bertino, a much-lauded writer of fiction who lives up to the hype. A former fellow at MacDowell artist community in Peterborough (no longer “Colony”), Bertino has written one other novel, 2014’s 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas, and a collection of short stories. She’s already sold another novel, set to be published in 2022, pandemic willing.

Parakeet takes place within the span of a week, with occasional flashbacks and one poignant flash forward, to describe the trauma-pocked life of the bride and her brother. It’s astonishing to realize that the bride is never given a name (nor the groom) and this omission does not matter or even seem strange. We don’t need to know her name; we learn everything else that matters.

The “bird-shaped grandmother” that shows up in the bride’s room knows about the impending wedding, but asks the bride to do something that has nothing to do with the ceremony. She/it wants the bride to find her estranged brother, and she makes a cryptic prophecy: “You won’t find him.”

The bride hasn’t seen her brother, Tom, for seven years. He’s a playwright who became wealthy and famous for writing about his sister’s life and then vanished.

“The last time I saw Tom was at his own wedding, where he lay bloody on a gurney, asking me to hold his hand,” the narrator-bride says.

But she loved her grandmother and so sets off to find the brother she doesn’t really want to see, all the while tending to the mundanities of a pre-wedding week, such as dealing with the florist, buying a new dress and seeing her maid of honor, her best friend from childhood, who, as it turns out, isn’t the greatest friend after all.

As the bride describes the relationship, “There’ve been several times in our friendship when Rose and I reached what I feared was its conclusion, when an important update to our subscription to each other had lapsed, and we either had to renew or face the tenuousness of our connection.”

This is typical of Bertino’s writing, which is startlingly original and frequently witty, as in her description of the woman from whom she buys a wedding dress: “Ada doesn’t wax her eyebrows or even trim them in any way I can detect. The courage this requires stuns me.”

Later, the bride describes her “smile so pale and winsome I appear floured.”

The exquisite writing and fresh turns of phrase do not exist to cover up a flan-like plot. The story is rich in its own right, thickened by pain and trauma.

The bride works as a biographer of people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, compiling the personal details of their lives for juries. (A visit she makes to a man whose brain is so unreliable that he needs to be reminded not to pull out a hot oven rack with his hand is especially poignant.)

But she has her own injuries, too, psychological ones from her mother and physical ones from a random attack. As she navigates the week, we are not sure if what she is experiencing is even real or the desperate imaginings of a brain that is truly broken.

Parakeet is a quiet thriller in that regard, pulsing with mysteries and questions. But it’s also a deeply empathetic portrayal of a woman struggling to discern what is real and right, like a bird banging into a glass window. It’s an excellent antidote to the common vacuous beach read.

AJennifer Graham

The Twitter war over J.K. Rowling and her views on transgender people has lately expanded to include other authors, including New Hampshire’s Jodi Picoult.

Picoult, who lives in Hanover on property that has views of both the Green and White Mountains, was asked by a fan to weigh in and tweeted (as did Stephen King) that trans women are women. Rowling, who does not share that view, is getting backlash from fans of her Harry Potter franchise, with some going so far as to have Potter-themed tattoos removed.

Picoult, however, stands to benefit from her tweet, as some Twitter users suggested that people buy one of her books in solidarity. There are plenty to choose; she’s written 27, with another, The Book of Two Ways, coming out in September. (The prologue is on her website if you want a sneak peek.)

Meanwhile, Rowling has a new work called The Ickabog, which she is publishing, one chapter at a time, on a website called Right now, the extended fairy tale consists of just Rowling’s words, but she is running a contest in both the U.S. and United Kingdom to choose illustrations that will be used when the book is published in the fall. Proceeds will go toward Covid-19 assistance.

For fare less controversial, Jane Austen fans might consider a book published this week: Rachel Cohen’s Austen Years, a Memoir in Five Novels (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 304 pages).

The first line: “About seven years ago, not too long before our daughter was born, and a year before my father died, Jane Austen became my only author.” Sign me up.

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