Local publishes books about Essex life, family historyBy Kelly March The Essex Reporter
Longtime Essex resident Grant Corson has held a lot of titles in his 79 years of life: student, carpenter, business owner, advertising manager, farmer and teacher, to name a few. That list got a little longer in November, when Corson published two books – “The Weed Road Chronicles” and “The Ratcatcher’s Son.”
“All my life I was a carpenter and now I’ve come to think of myself as a writer,” Corson said at Mirabelles Café on Saturday morning. “I never set out to do this. I only wanted to put my stories down in writing so that my kids could have them.”
While his seven children may have been his impetus for publishing the books, it was Mutsumi, Corson’s wife of 17 years, who inspired him to start writing.
“He’s a great storyteller,” she noted. “I love listening to his stories, so I said ‘why don’t you write them down.’”
After exchanging a glance with her husband, she smiled and added, “And he listened, which is kind of unusual.”
After five years of research, writing and formatting, Corson has two eBooks for sale through Amazon. One, “The Weed Road Chronicles,” is a collection of short stories about life in Essex and the other, “The Ratcatcher’s Son,” is an “unauthorized biography” of Corson’s great grandfather.
The Weed Road Chronicles
A New York City native, Corson moved to the Green Mountain State in the 1950s, earned a degree in business administration from the University of Vermont and “elected” to never leave. “The Weed Road Chronicles” provides readers with a glimpse into his life as he adjusted to rural living, started a carpentry business and raised seven children, six of whom were adopted, on Weed Road in Essex.
“The Weed Road Chronicles is a collection of short stories portraying life in rural Vermont as I lived it along with my family, friends and neighbors,” Corson writes in the book’s preface. “I have mostly attempted to show the amusing side of country living, however, some are of a more serious nature — just like life.”
Having first moved to Weed Road in 1961, Corson said coming up with material to fill the pages of the book was easy. The story subjects range from hosting a dinner party interrupted by bats to learning a lesson in humility at a Vermont diner.
“Most of the stories I’ve been telling for years,” Corson reflected. “A lot of them are about funny things that happened while raising my family in Essex and living on Weed Road. Some are more serious than others, but they’re mostly just about fun times.”
The Ratcatcher’s Son
While “The Weed Road Chronicles” came mostly from Corson’s memory, “The Ratcatcher’s Son” demanded “hundreds of hours of research” and a bit of creative writing.
The story chronicles the life of Corson’s great grandfather, Jonathan Dalley, an orphan who emigrated from England to America in the nineteenth century and fought for the North in the Civil War.
Corson was inspired to look into Dalley’s history after taking a course entitled “Roots” at UVM.
“The course was about the value of learning history through your own family’s history,” Corson explained. “I think everyone is a little curious about their family history and (the course) gave me a lot of good instruction about how to trace mine. I did some research and (Dalley’s) was the only thread I could really trace back, all the other lines petered out after a few generations. Once I found out he was the village rat catcher’s son, I really started looking into his life and, as it turned, out he was a pretty interesting fellow.”
While fictionalized, the account is based on findings from Corson’s research, which included two trips to Dalley’s hometown in England.
“I could probably write all the facts I know about my great grandfathers life on one single-spaced sheet, but I have 167 pages of his life story that I filled in,” he explained. “His obituary tells where he was born, when he came to America, how he came, what he did, when he was wounded in the civil war, who he married and when he died. I took that, his diaries, stories my father told about him and made a biography out of it. It’s not non-fiction, but its based on his life.”
The Word According to Nub
Two weeks after the publication date of his first two books, Corson is hard at work on a third. In fact, he’s almost finished with the collection of short stories and ready to begin the formatting process.
“It’s called ‘The Word According to Nub,’” Corson revealed on Saturday. “It’s mostly stories about the life of this character Nub, a typical Vermont Woodchuck I’ve based on an amalgam of people I know.”
Corson hopes to release his third book this spring. In the meantime, digital copies of “The Ratcatcher’s Son” and “The Weed Road Chronicles” can be purchased on www.amazon.com and hard copies should be available for purchase within the next few weeks.