"A dazzling account that deftly combines crime, drama, history and introspective rememberance." - Kirkus Reviews. ABOUT THE BOOK: Gretchen Cherington never met her grandfather Alpha LaRue “A.L.” Eberhart. But she grew up hearing
“A dazzling account that deftly combines crime, drama, history and introspective rememberance.” – Kirkus Reviews.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Gretchen Cherington never met her grandfather Alpha LaRue “A.L.” Eberhart. But she grew up hearing her father, the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Richard Eberhart, tearfully relate the great injustice A.L. once suffered while working for Geo. A. Hormel & Company, then a sizable meat-processing firm and now a multibillion-dollar conglomerate. In 1922, A.L. was asked to resign by the company’s CEO and founder, George Hormel, after it was discovered that the comptroller, Ransome Josiah “Cy” Thomson, had embezzled more than a million dollars. The resignation request was based on a “flimsy pretext”: that A.L. personally borrowed money from the company’s brokers. Meanwhile, there were suspicions “that A.L. had known Cy was stealing.” Eberhart often recounted the tale with furious indignation—in his eyes, the innocent A.L. was “six feet of manhood and not a mark of fear,” while Hormel was a “bastard, all greed for laying father so low.” But the author gradually became suspicious of her father’s penchant for poetic embellishment. She began to question the “family mythology” and to reflect with impressive sensitivity on the allure of such fabricated histories: “We cling to our myths, especially heady and intoxicating ones. We want to believe them as truth. We help in their construction by denying what’s in front of us and filling in holes to reinforce their validity. And in every great myth there are heroes, ones we don’t want to see fail.” She conducted an investigation and uncovered some discomfiting details—her grandfather was likely friends with Thomson, and at one time the comptroller inexplicably paid off one of A.L.’s loans, an incriminating piece of evidence. Moreover, there were rumors in the aftermath of the scandal that A.L. was an accomplice to Thomson’s crimes. Cherington rigorously combs all the available evidence and not only reconstructs the details of the scandal, but also the history of the company and the industry it came to dominate as well as her grandfather’s significant contributions to both. This is a mesmerizing story, one filled with drama and suspense and told with remarkable emotional insights.
Gretchen Cherington has long observed the ways in which powerful men influence our world. Her first learning came from her father, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet and U.S. Poet Laureate, Richard Eberhart, and his eclectic and influential writer friends, from Robert Frost to Allen Ginsberg to James Dickey. Later, as an advisor to hundreds of CEOs and top executives through her consulting career, Cherington partnered with them as they transformed their companies into places where both business and people could thrive.
An active leader in her community, she has served on twenty non-profit and corporate boards. As a writer, she uses complex family stories to illuminate our reverence for heroes, the ways we mythologize powerful men, and reconciling our complicated legacies.
Her first memoir, Poetic License, won multiple awards. Her essays have appeared in Huffington Post, Culture Club, The Millions, Crack the Spine, Bloodroot Literary Magazine, Women Writers/Women’s Books, MS. Girl, Yankee and more. Her essay “Maine Roustabout” was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. Gretchen and her husband split their time between Portland Maine and a saltwater cottage on Penobscot Bay. She renews herself in wild places out of doors.
Bob Keyes is a Maine-based and nationally-recognized arts writer and storyteller with specialties in American visual arts and the contemporary culture of New England. Born and raised near Boston, he has spent more than 15 years writing about arts and culture for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram.
In September 2021, Boston-based Godine published “The Isolation Artist: Scandal, Deception, and the Last Days of Robert Indiana,” which Keyes wrote based on 15 years of writing about Indiana and reporting on his suspicious death and a series of dramatic lawsuits alleging fraud and abuse.
His interest in writing and journalism began when he and a childhood friend launched a short-lived but spirited weekly neighborhood newsletter and continued through college in Georgia, where Bob learned he could integrate his interest in arts and entertainment with his desire to write. His professional career began in the newsroom at the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, Maine, and continued at the Greenwich Time in Connecticut and the Argus Leader in the wilds of South Dakota. Bob returned to Maine and Press Herald in 2002.
He has won numerous prizes, and his writing has been widely recognized for its contribution to the public discourse about the role of arts and culture in society. In 2017, he won the Rabkin Prize for Visual Arts Journalism, given to the top arts writers in the country and accompanied by a $50,000 prize. The Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance gave him its Distinguished Achievement Award in 2014, and Bob was part of the inaugural class of the NEA’s Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater in 2004.
He lives in Berwick, Maine, with his wife and stepson.
(Monday) 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm