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Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
January 26, 2018     Quoddy Tides
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January 26, 2018

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26 January, 2018 THE QUODDY TIDES Page 23 Etta and Otto and Russell and James By Emma Hopper. Simon and Schuster, Russell does not follow the other boys 2015. Softcovel, $15.99. as they go off to war because of a leg Review by RJ Heller injury sustained when he was young. He "'Otto,' The letter began, in blue ink, stays and eventually buys a farm. He is 'I've gone. I've never seen the water, so there and so is Etta, waiting for Otto to I've gone there. Don't worry; I've left you come home. The two pass the time quietly the truck. I can walk. I will try to remem- together in a regimen of dances and re- ber to come back. Yours (always), Etta.'" served conversation. Love blossoms be- And With that stark opening, a journey tween them but is interrupted when a letter begins not only for Etta and Otto, but also in a faded green envelope arrives. Otto is for the reader lucky enough to take a coming home. It is this distant love car- chance on Emma Hopper's brilliantly ried by Russell through the years after- written first novel, Etta and Otto and Rus- wards that sparks in him the need to go sell and James. The story moves from and search for Etta after Otto tells him she past to present flawlessly using three dif- has left on a walk to see the ocean. ferent points of view and altemating nar- And then there is James. As the book rative timelines. It is a fine blend of preface highlights, James is a character magical realism and folklore, that should be discovered by the reader Emma Hopper is both a musician and without any preemptive commentary. He writer living in the United Kingdom, but undoubtedly will be perceived differently she calls Alberta, Canada, home. She has by anyone who opens the book, and it is said the characters of Etta and Otto are there, for me, when I find James, that I loosely based on her grandparents, find the magical essence of the book. With the note written and left on the While on her walk across the Canadian kitchen table for her husband Otto to fmd, landscape, Etta begins to become a news 83-year-old Etta leaves their farmhouse in story, and eventually her arrival in the towns along her way is highly anticipated. Saskatchewan and travels by foot across Canada, heading east, a distance of 3,239 Crowds of people cheer. Russell is in pur- kilometers, to see the ocean. Inside her suit, and Otto is home tending the farm pocket is another note - a note to herself- and living life one day at a time waiting a list of names, family members past and for Etta's return. He battles demons of old present, and at the bottom is her own age and memories of the war by putting name, so she could remember it when his time to use. He begins to inhabit what needed, was once Etta's place by following in- The story quickly shifts to earlier days, structions she conveniently left on note- to the very beginning. Otto Vogel and his cards, such as recipes and daily rituals of 14 siblings tend the farm and go to school, her own life. He finds instructions on how Russell Palmer lives across from the Vo- to make papier m~ch6 at the same time he gel farm with his aunt and uncle. He and sees Etta's fame in the newspapers. He Otto form a bond of friendship and take diverts his unease and sadness by creating turns going to school because of its size - papier rAfich6 sculptures, at which he ex- one day, Otto, the next day Russell. eels, and over time he develops his own Etta Kinnick is the new teacher. She is fan base. young, smart and cares for her students, In the end, this is a luminous and beau- but she begins to see the boys depart one tiful story about two people, Etta and Otto, by one as World War II arrives. She is both searching for something in their lives. only a few years older than Otto and One is looking to see the waters of her agrees to write him after he enlists and is dreams before her memory fades from ex- shipped overseas, istence, and the other is looking to keep It is in this correspondence that these the waters of war at bay just a little bit two lives, over time, embrace each other, longer. Water will eventually unite these and the two eventually fall in love and two with an ending that surprises and, in marry. Their letters are what propels the my opinion, is one of the most creative I story forward in both time and place by have come across. It is a book that caught revealing separate experiences while my attention with its rifle, mesmerized me maintaining a tether to each other. Etta's with its creative approach and amazed me days are spent working in an ammunition with an ending that continues to linger in factory after the school is closed, all the my thoughts. time waiting for news of when Otto will come home. Otto spends his days march- Thor Ragnarok to ing, sleeping and always waiting for a let- ter from Etta telling him she will be there beshown at UMM when he returns. University of Maine at Machias' stu- p l dent activities organization, SAIL, will Open mic anned host two showings of the movie Thor Ragnardc on campus. SAIL stands for at Steuben library Student Activities Involvement and Lead- Musicians, bands, singers and poets are ership, aad the organization hosts events invited to share their talents at the next througholt the academic year for students open mic event on Saturday, January 27, and comnunity members. Thor Ragnarok from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Henry D. Moore will shov in the Performing Arts Center Library and Community Center in on Frida;, February 9, at 8 p.m. and on Steuben. Admission is by donation. Light Sunday, Yebruary 1 I, at 2 p.m. Tickets are refreshments will be served. For more in- just $2 f community members and free formation, call 546-7301 or email forUMl~students, staff, faculty and their . immedia~ family members. 1/alentine'5 Day Wednesdly, ebruary 14 Take your sweethearto THE NEW FRIENDLY R STAURANT Daily Specials ltomemaddOesserts Route 1, Perry 853-6610 Coil for resemtions Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 .m. to 8 p.m. VVVVVVVVVV0 V V qt qt V A PAIR OF GOLDFINCHES dance in the falling snow recently in Perry. (Don Dunbar photo) Art talk, book reading on tap for series The Sunday Afternoons at the EAC se- ties, a winter offering of informal and in- teractive programs every Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Eastport Arts Center, will feature Jan Bragdon with a talk rifled, "Look at Ways Photography Has Changed How Painters Work," on February 4. An East- port-based painter, photographer and printmaker, Bragdon will focus on his wa- tercolors and papercuts of ballet dancers as examples, demonstrating ways "writ- ing with light" has affected how artists think and create. The series continues on February 11 with a reading from 3 Nations Anthology: Native, Canadian & New England Writ- ers by Valerie Lawson and friends. The poems, essays and short stories in the book tell of the things that divide, the bridges between and the intense love of this rugged region the people who live here hold in common. Joseph Bruchae, winner of the Writer and Storyteller of the Year Award from 405 Main St. On US 1 (207) 454-1110 the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, says, "In many ways, the 3 Nations An- thology is a breath of fresh air. The idea of bringing together Canadian, Native and New England writers is, in itself, a re- freshing change from the literary and cul- tural barriers that we all too often allow to come between us." Sunday Afternoons at the EAC pro- grams are held downstairs at the EAC. Hot drinks and refreshments are offered; donations are gratefully accepted. As a reminder, Chris Bartlett will present a program about Winter Sea Birds of Passamaquoddy Bay on January 28. The series will run through April, skip- ping Easter Sunday. For more information, and to view the rest of the series lineup, please visit . "4t January 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, Feb. 1 Cinema 1 : Insidious: The Last Key (PG-13) Cinema 2: The Great Showman (PG- 13) Cinema 3: Forever My Girl (PG-13) Open nightly at 7 p.m. Sunday Matinees 1:30 p.m. Ticket prices: Adults $7.75 US / $9 Can Children/Seniors/Adive US Military: $6.50 US / $7.75 Con Sunday Matinee: $6.50 US / $7.75 Can