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Author Talk: Shirley Turner

The Destroying Angel

Saturday, January 6th

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Crofutt Community Room


"When I was born, my father was having an affair at the same time that he was married to my mother. When I was two, my parents’ marriage ended. I ended up being tossed from my grandparents’ house to my aunt’s house, then back to my mom’s house. I remember many older men hanging around our house; my mother didn’t have any permanent man in her life."

 From the opening chapter of the memoir The Destroying Angel.

Neither Dorothy Allison’s novel Bastard out of Carolina, nor Richard Hoffman’s memoir Half the House, will leave its readers with a greater belief in the power and resilience of the human spirit than The Destroying Angel, Shirley Turner’s memoir detailing her triumph over decades of horrifying sexual and mental abuse. Denied a formal education, Shirley typed her story on a reclaimed computer not only as an attempt to come to terms with the savage brutality she has faced, but also as a way to deal with the murder of her only child.

Advised by several literary agents and editors that her manuscript was compelling and rife with commercial potential but needed the skills of a professional co-writer to make it publishable, Shirley Turner contacted the English Department at the University of Maine. Her request for help included some of the details in this memoir, and perhaps because I have long taught Richard Hoffman’s Half the House, I was drawn to her story.

I contacted Shirley and soon discovered a woman of conviction and honesty who battles the devastating effects of long term physical, mental, and sexual abuse of the most vile kind, with a resilience and courage I have never before encountered.

In the end, this is a journey of triumph, a story that exalts the incredible courage of one human being who refused to buckle under a barrage of despair, hatred, and trauma, inspired by the one pure love of her life.

-          Bruce Pratt

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Author Talk: George Smith

Maine Sporting Camps

Tuesday, January 9th
6:30 - 7:30 pm

When Downeast Books’ Michael Steere contacted George Smith to write a book about Maine sporting camps, it didn’t take him long to say yes.  George enjoyed many visits to sporting camps throughout Maine. He had a chance to discuss the successes, struggles, and frustrations of the business with Maine Sporting Camp owners.  George found himself getting involved in key issues of concern raised by the camp owners from taxes and regulations to expense increases, shrinking habitat, and marketing limitations.  But this wouldn’t be the first time.

George found the history of Maine’s Sporting Camps fascinating. One interesting point George discovered while researching his book is that the number of Maine Sporting Camps decreased in number from more than 300 to less than 40 between 1904 and 2007.  Maine Sporting Camps includes specific information about 85 sporting camps. The definition of a sporting camp was expanded in the book to include camps that rent cabins and some that are just lodges. A history of Maine sporting camps is included in this book.

George Smith says, “You can set aside all the stress in your life by visiting a traditional Maine sporting camp. And I’ll guarantee one thing: You won’t want to leave!”


About the author, George Smith

George Smith is a Winthrop, Maine native, a graduate of the University of Maine, and has lived in Mount Vernon, Maine for 40 years. He and his wife, Linda, have three children and four grandchildren.  George has done many things in his life, from writing comprehensive plans for rural Maine towns to managing statewide referendum campaigns. He served as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for 18 years, growing the membership from 4,000 to 14,000 and making it one of the state’s most influential organizations.

George now writes full-time including an outdoor news blog posted on his website and the website of the Bangor Daily News, cited by the Maine Press Association in 2014 as the state’s best sports blog. He has written a weekly editorial column published in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel for 26 years, columns for The Maine Sportsman magazine since 1977, and special columns for magazines and the newsletters of various Maine organizations. George and his wife Linda, a retired first grade teacher, have also written a weekly travel column for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel for 7 years, focused on Maine inns, restaurants, events and activities.

 A great supporter of libraries as well as the great out-doors, George is currently in his 39th year as a Trustee of the Dr. Shaw Memorial Library, where he recently raised $330,000 to expand the library.  At the state level, George served on the Forest Legacy Advisory Committee, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund Board, Commission to Study Trespass Laws, Hatchery Commission, Submerged Lands Task Force, Great Ponds Task Force, and many other task forces and study groups.

George Smith has published four books. He will review and answer questions about all of them during his program while focusing on Maine Sporting Camps.  You can follow George and his travels around Maine on his website: