Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Week 3: State - Vermont

Vermont, the third state in New England on this trip, is the second least populous state in the United States, perhaps understandable given that 77% of the state is covered by forest. At 625,741 it's population is less than the city of Boston, and 400,000 less than Rhode Island, the smallest state in the country. The state capital is Montpelier and the largest and most populous city is Burlington which, with a population of only 42,417, is smaller than Salisbury in England. Nicknamed the 'Green Mountain State', after the mountain range that runs like a spine down most of the length of the state, Vermont has often featured high up in the list of states you are most likely to live the longest in, having been ranked number one as the healthiest state seven times between 2001 and 2008, and ranking second in the nation for safety in 2009 (even though Vermont has some of the most relaxed gun control laws in the country). Vermont was also the first state to abolish slavery and is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States (two completely unrelated facts there).

Notable films set in Vermont include Dead Poets Society, What Lies Beneath, and the David Mamet film State and Main (set in the small town of Waterford, Caledonia County).

I started to suspect very early on in this endeavour that there were no classic novels set in Vermont to easily choose from. I've still yet to find any (and if you know of any it's too late now), so for the first time I've had to go with a relatively obscure writer, Castle Freeman.

Castle Freeman is a resident of Vermont who has written four novels to date, all of which have been set in his home state. I have gone with his most recent, All That I Have, published in 2009. Why? Well the reviews include comparisons to Cormac McCarthy, who I like very much, and a quote from the great singer-songwriter Nick Cave: "I loved this book". Good enough for me. Oh, and it's short. Really short.

Review to follow later this week.

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