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Since Cheryl Pearl Sucher married a New Zealander in 1999, she has been living between two worlds: the Greater New York City area and the Hawkes Bay of New Zealand, two places that are about as far apart on the planet as one can travel. Though she has often felt torn between her very different lives, she has also felt that her life experience and artistic vision has been enhanced by living as both an insider and an outsider in such different but extraordinary places. This interview series is born out of her experience between these worlds, and as a published fiction writer, bookseller, journalist, memoirist and avocational musical traveler.
In this edition, Cheryl talks to Nina Shengold, author of Reservoir Year: A Walker's Book of Days.
On the eve of her sixtieth birthday, Nina Shengold embarks on a challenge: to walk the path surrounding the Catskills’ glorious Ashokan Reservoir every day for a year, at all times of day and in all kinds of weather, trying to find something new every time. Armed with lively curiosity, infectious enthusiasm, and renewed stubbornness, she hits the path every day with all five senses wide open, searching for details that glint. As Shengold explores the secrets of this spectacular place, she rediscovers the glories of solitude and an expanded community, both human and animal. Step by step, her reservoir walks rekindle connections with family, strangers, and friends, with a landscape she grows to revere, and with a new sense of self. Like the writings of John Burroughs, Annie Dillard, and Barry Lopez, Shengold’s reflections on her personal journey will resonate with outdoor enthusiasts and armchair hikers alike. Quietly transformative, Reservoir Year encourages readers to find their own ways to unplug and slow down, reconnecting with nature, reviving old passions and sparking some new ones along the path.
Shengold’s beautifully calibrated rhythm of language conveys all the rhythm of walking―the quiet, graceful stride along with lively, animated steps, the contemplative solitary strolls and those shared with companions. But she offers us as well the rhythm of the infinitesimal and the grand; of the expected and the unexpected; of the abstract and the real. Shengold suggests what it is to be an attentive human being, which is why accompanying her on these reservoir walks is as restorative as the walks themselves., Akiko Busch, author of How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency
Reservoir Year is both a lyrical form of devotion as well as halcyon cry to wake up and notice the life around us. A most timely and superb book!, Gail Straub, author of The Ashokan Way: Landscape’s Path into Consciousness
Shengold’s memoir explores a reservoir of feelings. Accompanied by her elegant, unpretentious prose, the reader comes upon surprises: a bear, an eagle feather, a crimson forest. Filled to the brim with subtle revelations, of sun-washed illuminations but also the poignant history; a drowned town lies below the shimmering surface. Expect to be moved, and then overcome by the tenderness and variety of Shengold’s emotional literary palette., Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of Sleeping Arrangements and A Place in the Country
This is nature writing of the highest and most delightful order., David Van Biema, coauthor of The Prayer Wheel: A Daily Guide to Renewing Your Faith with a Rediscovered Spiritual Practice
To walk with Shengold along the banks of the Ashokan Reservoir, is to see the Catskills―its ever-changing sky, its magnificent wildlife, and even its ghosts―through the lens of a writer of rare and exquisite sensibility., Leslie T. Sharpe, author of The Quarry Fox: And Other Critters of the Wild Catskills
For a walking companion with a witty, curious and unorthodox mind who is also a stunningly good writer, read Nina Shengold's Reservoir Year. I loved loved loved every word and then I cried at the end., Abigail Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of A Three Dog Life and What Comes Next and How To Like It
Part ode to this pristine environment and part interior monologue on aging, friendship, and love, Shengold’s book inspires readers to pay a little more attention to the beauty of the world and how it can reflect their emotions right back at them., Upstate House Magazine
The book is an invitation to find our own “Ashokan Reservoir,” a place of magic that will engage our senses and awaken our spirit., Art in the Catskills
Nina Shengold is an award-winning author, playwright, and screenwriter. Her debut novel Clearcut was a Book Sense notable selection, won a Henry Miller Award from nerve.com, and appeared on Year's Best lists in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, San Francisco Bay Times, Out.com (#1 selection) and BookMarks. Shengold's River of Words: Portraits of Hudson Valley Writers was an IPPY Award Silver Medalist. Shengold has also won the Writers Guild Award and a GLAAD Award nomination for her Lifetime teleplay Labor of Love, starring Marcia Gay Harden.
Cheryl Pearl Sucher is an award winning novelist, journalist and interviewer as well as one of McNally Jackson’s original gangsters. A recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, her first novel, The Rescue of Memory, was published by Scribner; and she hopes that her second, Alive Among the Ruins, will be in print before her cousin Julia turns 90. She lives between New Jersey and New Zealand and is the curator for our Between Two Worlds author conversation series, where she has interviewed Min Jin Lee, Sigrid Nuñez, Susan Choi and Sally Rooney, among others.