Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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A Book Is Launched

July 14, 2005

May Oskan successfully launched her first novel, Becoming the Crane, at a book party last night. Having read some of May's earlier work, I look forward to reading it (and will report back when I do). It's a handsome volume, well-designed and illustrated with the appropriately fantastic etchings of Jacqueline A. Cormier. The multi-instrumental Nina Violet -- May's sister -- and several musician friends provided a generous set's worth of music before they were called (literally: when the cell phone rings thrice, it's really time to go) away to another gig.

I won't make too much of the fact that May hasn't turned twenty-one yet, or the fact that when I was her age I hadn't thought much beyond term papers and the occasional review in the college newspaper. Or that it was another ten years or so before I had a clue about how to produce and distribute a book. During a break in the music, I leaned over and whispered to Michele, mother of May, Nina, and three other remarkable offspring, "You sure have a bunch of talented kids." She whispered back, "That's what happens when they grow up without a TV." Michele herself is an accomplished musician, artist, and costumer, among other things. That probably helped too.

The venue itself was cause for celebration. The Arts District Exchange, Dukes County Ave., Oak Bluffs, is an old structure converted -- by May's father, so it happens -- to a new purpose: holding medium-size social and artistic gatherings. The acoustics are excellent, the size just right for an audience of up to fifty or so; it's easy to get to, and even in summer there's adequate parking. Among the many casualties of the Vineyard Land Grab of the last decade have been spaces like this, and the island's cultural life has diminished accordingly. Last night the performers who had never been inside before -- including yours truly -- were seeing more than the physical place: we were seeing possibilities for future performances, collaborations, and celebrations.

All in all, a fine way to spend the eve of Bastille Day. Allons, enfants de l'île . . .

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