Last year, in “Mud Season,” readers met Ellen Stimson, a Metro East native who pulled up stakes in 2003 and moved with husband John Rushing to Dorset, Vt. (population 2,000). Now, in “Good Grief!,” she continues her account of life in what she calls “the People’s Republic of Vermont.”
Like her last book, “Good Grief!” teems with humor — and exclamation points, ellipses and footnotes, many of them jokes at her own expense. (In one footnote, she says a spate of snacking was not good “for my already ample backside.”)
But as the title suggests, “Good Grief!” packs in some grieving because of a death in Stimson’s extended family. Still, much of the book details her attempts to fit in with Vermont’s close-knit way of life.
She writes that “we get a lot of folks that decide to move here from somewhere else. They decide to cash in their 401(k)s and make Vermont their home. To become real Vermonters. Well, to be frank, none of us manage the ‘real Vermonter’ bit. Just ask anyone who has been here longer than you have. You’re not a ‘real Vermonter’ without a few generations behind you.
“You will remain a flatlander for the next hundred years or so.”
And at times, she misses St. Louis. “For one tiny little thing ... can I just say? ... I miss all that anonymity. There is nothing quite like going to a coffee shop in your sweats with messy hair and no makeup and reading the paper while you are on your third croissant with crumbs all over the table. That is not behavior you can manage in Vermont.
“You will see seven people you know and at least two will want to talk.”
Stimson writes in a style so chatty that many readers will wonder how long they could last sitting next to her on an airliner. But in book form, we can set Stimson aside until we’re ready for more chatter.
By the way, Stimson remains a Cardinals fan, even in the heart of Red Sox country.
And yes, she answers The St. Louis Question:
Granite City High School.
Harry Levins of Manchester retired in 2007 as senior writer of the Post-Dispatch. He was born and reared in Rutland, Vt., 25 miles north of Dorset.
A memoir by Ellen Stimson
Published by Countryman Press, 239 pages, $23.95
When • 7 p.m. Monday
Where • Left Bank Books, 399 North Euclid Avenue
How much • Free
More info • 314-367-6731; left-bank.com