Joyce Hinnefeld


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Keeping It Local in Phoenixville, PA

Last weekend I discovered a wonderful independent bookstore not far from Philadelphia, Wolfgang Books in Phoenixville, PA ( Thanks to store owner Jason Hafer for hosting me in the store on Saturday afternoon, and to the folks who stopped by to chat and have their copies of In Hovering Flight signed.

Phoenixville seems aptly named; it’s a former industrial town on the Schuylkill River that’s had a wonderful revival ( Wolfgang Books is located on an historic main street lined with restored buildings, all of them filled with beautiful restaurants and stores. Wolfgang Books is one of those stores where you want a copy of everything they have; Jason and his staff have clearly chosen—and displayed—their books with love. The space is glorious too. The day I visited the wide sun porch at the front of the store, normally a spacious reading room filled with comfy sofas, was set up for that evening’s reading by poet Elizabeth Bodien (

The store seemed part of something bigger happening in Phoenixville—the vital return to living and buying locally. As climate change worsens and fuel supplies dwindle, towns like Phoenixville and stores like Wolfgang Books are powerful reminders of the pleasures of getting out of our cars.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back-to-School Blues

I think all writers give their characters qualities and life situations that they, the writers, wish they had themselves. For some reason the end of summer has been particularly hard for me to face this year. I’ve been wishing I were a bit more like Addie and Tom in my novel In Hovering Flight. I’d like to have more of Addie’s feistiness and more of her ability to convert her rage and despair into art (at least at times). I’d like more of Tom’s patience, and also just a bit of his musical talent. And I’d like to be more like both of them when it comes to all the demands of fall—the school supplies, the uniforms, the forms and reports that are due, the appointments that have to be scheduled.

I’d like to say well, I’ll get to those things when I can. On my daughter Anna’s first day of school a couple weeks ago, the sun was shining, it was beautiful out, it still felt like summer, and I did not feel ready to let summer go. If I were Addie or Tom, I’d have been painting or writing, or out in the field listening to bird song. In In Hovering Flight, Addie and Tom’s daughter Scarlet routinely shows up for the first day (or week) of school without the necessary supplies, the necessary uniform for gym, etc. But she survives. She’d rather sit in study hall and read anyway.

Alas, my daughter likes to have those things all taken care of well in advance. She is her mother’s daughter, I’m afraid. So she left that first day with a backpack filled with everything she’d need, and I resisted the urge to take a long walk on that beautiful morning and spent the time after she left getting ready for my own classes instead.

Maybe next year I’ll manage to be a little more like Addie and Tom.