Talk & Signing: Clif Travers, author of The Stones of Riverton

The Stones of Riverton is a collection of linked short stories and novelettes inspired by the gravestones in a small Maine town. The stories are bound together by place and ancestry spanning over 200 hundred years. They un-bury an often shameful history of unexplained deaths and deeply held secrets in a town that is divided both economically and culturally. While fictional, the stories are grounded in the lore, rumors, and fables that were told to the author by parents, grandparents, and local storytellers.

We meet a mother who is forced to give up her eldest daughter to a tradition that is not hers.

A young and talented woman is promised to a farmer who physically and mentally abuses her until the death of one of them becomes inevitable. Her efforts to poison her abuser backfire, ending in her own death, although the community is certain he was the murderer.

Three children find the body of a young boy in their favorite swimming hole, and the discovery puts a town on alert, deepening a long-existing cultural divide. The children learn the truth, but they can never speak of it. That truth would put an impoverished part of town in even more peril than they have already endured for a hundred years.

A debutante from the city marries a local woodsman against the wishes of her family, only to learn that love is not enough to quell the ferocity of a harsh Maine winter. The real story of how the family perished that winter in 1924 is discovered after sixty years, and it is not at all what townsfolk had assumed.

In a story that spans four decades, we meet two closeted gay men who fall in love in the '60's amidst the social unrest of the time. As their political careers grow and diverge, one decides to come out while the other is horrified by what it might do to his future. An argument grows into a physical fight, resulting in the death of one and thirty years of guilt for the other.

There are fourteen stories and a prologue. Some of the voices speak from the grave in search of resolve. Others struggle with the conflicts and the sweet-and-sour of life in a town where everyone knows you and your mistakes. But most importantly, these stories are about the secrets of both the living and the dead that reveal the prejudices and the shameful pasts that often exist in rural communities.

Clif Travers began writing these stories while earning his MFA from Stonecoast at the University of Maine. At that time, he had been living in Brooklyn, New York for fifteen years, but he fell in love with his home state again, moved back, and finished the book. Seven of the stories have been published in literary journals and anthologies, such as Crack the Spine Year-end Anthology, freeze frame fiction, Dime Show Review, Bell Coffin Journal, and Underwood Press. Clifs lives in Portland, Maine.

Event date: 
Wednesday, September 20, 2023 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Water Street Bookstore
125 Water Street
Exeter, NH 03833
The Stones of Riverton: Stories from a Cemetery By Clif Travers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781684751068
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Down East Books - September 1st, 2023