A Berkshire Boyhood: Confessions and Reflections of a Baby Boomer ($20, ISBN: 978-1-937536-52-7, Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-68114-147-3, LCCN: 2013951941, 6X9″, 162pp, April 24, 2014, Purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or as a Kindle for $2.99): Neither celebrity-gawk, “misery memoir,” nor confessional melodrama, A Berkshire Boyhood is more reminiscent of such memoirs as Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and Emily Fox Gordon’s Are You Happy? In fact, A Berkshire Boyhood will strike readers as a parallel universe to Gordon’s book, her own story of growing up in Williamstown, Massachusetts, as a privileged faculty brat and young girl in the 1950s. Berkshire Boyhood is a boy’s story of growing up from working class roots in that same place and time. It explores family troubles arising out of the wounds and separations of World War II, ethnic religiosity, and adolescent sexuality (1950s variety). Its deeper appeal comes from our curiosity about the 1950s and the Boomer generation, from the fraught relations between that generation and their parents, who fought WWII, from our interest in the influence of landscape on human development, and from a vision of post-war years as a decade seething with the anger and dissent of an incipient counterculture that would explode the sixties.
Robert J. Begiebing is the author of eight books, a play, and many articles and stories. His books include a trilogy of novels spanning 1648-1850. His novel Rebecca Wentworth’s Distraction won the Langum Prize for historical fiction. The Strange Death of Mistress Coffin was chosen as a Main Selection for the Mystery and Literary Guild Book Clubs and is currently optioned for a film. His most recent novel is The Turner Erotica (2013), about both the secret and public life and work of J.M.W. Turner. His fiction writing has been supported by grants from the Lila-Wallace Foundation and the New Hampshire Council for the Arts. In 2007, Governor John Lynch appointed Begiebing to the Council for the Arts. In 2009 he served both as one of the inaugural faculty members at the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony and as finalist judge for the Langum Prize. He is the founding director of the Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction, and Professor of English Emeritus, at Southern New Hampshire University.
“Begiebing seems intuitively right about the commonality of experience, the connection developed worlds apart by rough-shod children heading into the woods on a dangerous mission of freedom. Will this shared experience be there in quite the same form for another generation? Does it matter, after all? We have Begiebing’s engaging memoir, if not to answer these questions, then at least to document their astonishing yet ordinary source.” –“Into the Woods: Berkshire Boyhood” by Michael Shuman, The Mailer Review (Vol. 8, No. 1, Fall 2014, 411-17. The Norman Mailer Society)