If you look at a travel guide to Connecticut, you will find a plethora of restaurant listings for Litchfield and Fairfield Counties,art galleries in Hartford County, and glossy photos of the picturesque hills of the northwestern corner of the state. Mention of the eastern part of Connecticut, if there is any, includes the casinos and the Mystic Seaport and few or no photos. To the New York Times new Metropolitan section, the eastern half of our state is invisible. It’s long been common wisdom that people in Connecticut will drive west, but not east. To many, the Connecticut River Valley and west IS Connecticut.
But Eastern Connecticut has Wally Lamb, and novel by rich novel, he is portraying this little piece of the world with a depth of understanding that no travel guide can approach. He describes the rivers, the mill towns, the immigrants and old Yankees, the working class and the professionals, and the generations of citizens that have loved and hurt and healed and cared and laughed here.
I love his funny new book, Wishin’ and Hopin.’ I like the story, and I’m fond of Felix, the ten year old main character and his family feels real to me. The book makes me smile and chuckle and nod my head, yes. But I especially like the tastes and smells and sights and sounds in the book because they are the tastes and smells and sights and sounds of Eastern Connecticut.
Thank you Wally for your sense of place. Thank you for caring for these often forgotten square miles that are, in their imperfect way, so much more authentic than the wealthy gold coast that too many others think of when they think of Connecticut. Thank you for probing and understanding, for your honesty.
Sure, the rest of the state may dominate the images in the wall calendars but Eastern Connecticut, especially this piece of Eastern Connecticut, lives in literature and if it lives in literature it lives in people’s minds, even those who have never visited.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Posted by Suzy