Tag Archives: Elyssa East

Elyssa East Author Dogtown: Death and Enchantment In A New England Ghost Town Part III

Here is the final installment of the Elyssa East GMG Interview.

In this segment we talk about publishing in 2010- the challenges and opportunities presented with new media distribution.

We also talk about the need for the independent book store and what they offer that digital media can’t.

you can check out The DogtownTheBook website here-


Elyssa East Author Dogtown: Death and Enchantment In A New England Ghost Town Part I

I Interviewed Elyssa East at Pleasant Street Tea and Coffee Company Where She Talked About Her Book In Part I of Our Three Part Interview

Look for part II tomorrow
For more info about Dogtown: Death and Enchantment In A New England Ghost Town check out the website here

imagepart II tomorrow

Elyssa East: Dogtown: Death and Enchantment In A New England Ghost Town Video

You can buy Dogtown: Death and Enchantment In A New England Ghost Town at The Bookstore of Gloucester or any of the local bookstores including Toad Hall in Rockport.

From Simon Shuster Videos-

Look for my interview with Elyssa Tomorrow.

From DogtownTheBook website-

The area known as Dogtown—an isolated colonial ruin and surrounding 3,000-acre woodland in storied seaside Gloucester, Massachusetts—has long exerted a powerful influence over artists, writers, eccentrics, and nature lovers. But its history is also woven through with tales of witches, supernatural sightings, pirates, former slaves, drifters, and the many dogs Revolutionary War widows kept for protection and for which the area was named. In 1984, a brutal murder took place there: a mentally disturbed local outcast crushed the skull of a beloved schoolteacher as she walked in the woods. Dogtown’s peculiar atmosphere—it is strewn with giant boulders and has been compared to Stonhenge — and eerie past deepened the pall of this horrific event that continues to haunt Gloucester even today.

In alternating chapters, Elyssa East interlaces the story of this grisly murder with the strange, dark history of this wilderness ghost town and explores the possibility that certain landscapes wield their own unique power.

East knew nothing of Dogtown’s bizarre past when she first became interested in the area. As an art student in the early 1990s, she fell in love with the celebrated Modernist painter Marsden Hartley’s stark and arresting Dogtown landscapes. She also learned that in the 1930s, Dogtown saved Hartley from a paralyzing depression. Years later, struggling in her own life, East set out to find the mysterious setting that had changed Hartley’s life, hoping that she too would find solace and renewal in Dogtown’s odd beauty. Instead, she discovered a landscape steeped in intrigue and a community deeply ambivalent about the place: while many residents declare their passion for this profoundly affecting landscape, others avoid it out of a sense of foreboding.

Throughout this richly braided first-person narrative, East brings Dogtown’s enigmatic past to life. Losses sustained during the American Revolution dealt this once thriving community its final blow. Destitute war widows and former slaves took up shelter in its decaying homes until 1839, when the last inhabitant was taken to the poorhouse. He died seven days later. Dogtown has remained abandoned ever since, but continues to occupy many people’s imaginations. In addition to Marsden Hartley, it inspired a Bible-thumping millionaire who carved the region’s rocks with words to live by; the innovative and influential postmodernist poet Charles Olson, who based much of his epic Maximus Poems on Dogtown; an idiosyncratic octogenarian who vigilantly patrols the land to this day; and a murderer who claimed that the spirit of the woods called out to him.

In luminous, insightful prose, Dogtown takes the reader into an unforgettable place brimming with tragedy, eccentricity, and fascinating lore, and examines the idea that some places can inspire both good and evil, poetry and murder.

Elyssa East Reading from Newly Published “Dogtown”

Please join us for a reading and signing with Elyssa East
The event will be held at the Bookstore at 7 P.M.
on Thursday October 21st.
Elyssa will be reading from her newly published paperback
book Dogtown, a true-crime story, an art appreciation course,
and an American history lesson about the 3000-acre
woodland in seaside Gloucester.
      Hope to see you,
      Janice (The Bookstore)


Chickity Check It!- Elyssa East’s Dogtown:Death and Enchantment in a New England Town

From Josh Brackett-

If you care about Cape Ann and you want a good read, get hold of Elyssa East’s new book, Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town. It’s a real page turner and features many local characters.

Also, could you list CapeAnnPolitics.org in your blogroll? Not much traffic there now, as this is a slow season for politics, but there will be more as we get into the warmer weather. See especially my Cape Ann TV interview that explains what it’s about. CATV gives permission for any use as long as it’s not commercial.

Thanks, JB

Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town -Book Signing & Reading

Cape Ann Museum

Book Signing & Reading: Elyssa East, author
Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town

Saturday, January 9 at 2:00 p.m.

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), Study for Whale’s Jaw, Dogtown Common. Ink on paper, c. 1931.
Cape Ann Museum collection.

From Publishers Weekly

[Signature]Reviewed by Joyce Carol Oates

This is a work of narrative nonfiction in which I attempt to tell the story of a landscape—Gloucester, Massachusetts’s Dogtown. The author’s succinct description of her fascinating, richly detailed and remarkably evocative exploration of a long-deserted colonial village amid a 3,600-acre woodland doesn’t do justice to the quirky originality of Dogtown. Part history of a most unusual region; part commentary on the art of the American Modernist painter Marsden Hartley; part murder mystery/true crime police procedural; and part memoir, East’s first book is likely to appeal to a varied audience for whom Dogtown, Mass., is utterly unknown.East was initially drawn to Dogtown through the landscape paintings of Hartley—a gifted and undervalued contemporary of Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove and John Marin. Led to investigate the landscape Hartley painted, East soon finds herself, like the protagonist of a mystery, ever more deeply involved with the colonial ruin—is it a place of mystical wonder, or is it an accursed landscape? In colonial times, Dogtown was a marginal area of Gloucester said to be a haven for former slaves, prostitutes and witches; in the 20th century, it was largely abandoned and became a sort of uncharted place where, in a notorious 1984 incident, a mentally deranged sex offender murdered a young woman teacher in the woods.East is thorough in her descriptions of the attractive young victim and the loathsome murderer—a devastating portrait of the type of predator of whom it’s said he would never hurt anyone. Though the true crime chapters—which alternate with chapters presenting the tangled history of Dogtown—are inevitably more interesting, East gracefully integrates her various themes into a coherent and mesmerizing whole. In her admiration for Hartley, East kindles in the reader a wish to see his works, as well as the allegedly mystical landscape that inspired them; it would have been a good idea to include color plates of some of Hartley’s work, juxtaposed with the landscapes. Also, the true crime chapters—written with appalled compassion—and the detailed portraits of individuals involved—the murderer, the victim, the victim’s husband and his family, several police officers—would benefit from photographs as well. Late in Dogtown, as if the author’s inventiveness were flagging and her material running thin, there are digressions into local politics that will be of limited interest.Dogtown is surprisingly spare in personal information. We learn only a few facts about the engaging young writer whose life was so changed when she first saw Hartley’s paintings that, five years later, she was led to the adventure of Dogtown, which would involve her for 10 years. This is most unusually self-effacing, particularly in our rabidly confessional times. Some readers will appreciate the author’s vanishing into her subject, which is certainly strong enough to stand alone, while others might feel an absence in this evocation of, as Hartley described it, one of these strange wild places… where the chemistry of the universe is too busy realizing itself.Joyce Carol Oates’s latest novel is Little Bird of Heaven (HarperCollins/Ecco).
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