"Holyoke Street, a single block of row houses in the South End of Boston, was built in the 1860s as housing for upper- and middle-class families," is how Lynne Potts begins the memoir of her time in what is now the largest Victorian neighborhood in the United States. In a carefully documented paperback illustrated with photographs and drawings, the author weaves a history of the beginnings of the South End in the early 1800s, when it was still mostly underwater, to its nascent form as a neighborhood for wealthy Bostonians decades later, and its subsequent decline toward the end of the 19th century. How it reemerged in the 20th and 21st centuries as one of the most sought-after and diverse neighborhoods in Boston is the tale with which she intertwines her own, arriving first in 1968 from New York City as a student and ten years later as a single mother with two young children, Sam and Emmy, to whom the book is dedicated. Many names of local characters who helped shape the history of the neighborhood can be found in the pages of this delightful book, some still around, others not, including Eleanor Strong, Allan Crite, Ann Hershfang, Marcie Curry and Mel King. The movement to preserve open space in the neighborhood by means of establishing community garden plots, the opening of first Bread and Circus store (now Whole Foods), the creation of Southwest Corridor Park and historic fights to keep the South End branch of the Boston Public Library open are covered as well. In the 1980s, Potts began to write about it all for The South End News, then just founded as a 24-page local newspaper by Alison Barnet and Skip Rosenthal.
Lynne Potts is a poet who currently lives both in the South End and in New York City, where she received an MFA from Columbia University. Her poems have appeared in the Paris Review and other literary journals, and she was the Poetry Editor of the Columbia Journal of Literature and Art. Her five favorite books are listed under The South End Reads on this web site.
Future readings in The South End Writes program include:
Tuesday, February 5, 6:30 p.m.
The acclaimed poet (Romanticism) and novelist, most recently of historical fiction (Miss Fuller), is currently the director of creative writing at Skidmore College. She will be introduced by South End resident and nationally known author Doug Bauer, whose own new collection of essays, “What Happens Next?” will come out this fall.
Tuesday, February 26, 6:30 p.m.
Andre Dubus III
The examination of the author’s violent past has been described ”best book” of non-fiction of 2011 and 2012 by many literary-gate guardians, and was preceded by his previous novels House of Sand and Fog (made into a movie by the same name) and The Garden of Last Days. Sue Miller will introduce the author.
Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 p.m.
will read from her second novel, The K Street Affair.
Tuesday, April 16, 6:30 p.m.
Editor, writer of numerous books of fiction and non-fiction, and revered professor of English at Bennington College (to where he commutes from the South End), Bauer will read from his most recent collection of essays, What Happens Next?, to be published in the fall of 2013 by the University of Iowa Press.
Tuesday, May 14, 6:30 p.m.
Dennis Lehane, the spectacularly successful author who grew up in Dorchester and is ALSO a BPL trustee, published his latest novel, Live by Night, in 2012. Set in Boston in the 1920s, the New York Times’ reviewer called the book a “sentence-by-sentence pleasure.”
Tuesday, May 21, 6:30 p.m.
The Dovekeepers, a historical novel describing the AD70 massacre at Masada from the point of view of four women at the fortress before it fell during the Jewish-Roman war, is the most recent of the nearly two dozen novels by Hoffman and just came out in paperback. To be introduced by Sue Miller.
Tuesday, June 11, 6:30 p.m.
the local filmmaker whose mesmerizing documentary, Angelo Unwritten, has followed the life of a teenager adopted out of foster care when he was twelve, will return with an update of new material gathered since December 2011.
Tuesday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.
will return to read from his current work-in-progress, retracing the steps of his father who, as a soldier, was sent to Europe during the Second World War.
The five favorite books recommended by the authors mentioned above, and previous speakers, can be found under THE SOUTH END READS.