". . . he's still the affable, wry, unpretentious, contrary old crank that he was when he was young. (If no longer incensed.) These essays take you into the nooks and crannies of his life as a homebound freelance writer, dad, amateur naturalist, homeowner, and husband . . . .This book will be well worth the time spent, whether you know who Edgar Allan Beem is or not. When you're done poking around with him, you'll have a greatly enhanced picture of what life in Vacationland is really like. Not to mention one of the characters who has spent most of his life here."
—Bangor Daily News
"Beem is an astute observer and commentator of just about everything . . . . These are short, succinct observations of life as he sees it, offering fresh, honest perspectives of feelings, fears, joys, experiences, and memories we all share."
—Maine Central Newspapers
"Perhaps one of the exemplar charms of Beem's writing is the way he makes us stop and wonder, to be aware of this remarkable world and its inhabitants surrounding us—a place we often forget is there for the taking, so immersed do we become in things like busyness, the Internet, and political and personal aggravations . . . . Observant, funny, yet totally unsentimental, Beem works in his sunroom office, metaphorically hugging a sometimes hard-to-love world."
"Because Ed Beem learned long ago that all great writing is about longing, we can't read these essays without catching an unexpected glimpse of our own lives, our fears and desires for our communities and planet, and for the people who need us to love them best and honestly. These essays reflect the thoughtful observations of a writer who has done his best to deprive the world of some of its loneliness by reminding us what it means to be human."
—Don J. Snyder, author of the acclaimed memoir Of Time and Memory and novels such as Night Crossing, Winter Dreams and Fallen Angel
"Reading this collection of Edgar Beem's columns is like spending the afternoon with an old friend. He covers everything from the first winter snowfall to the aging of a favorite dog to the dilemmas of a parent on prom night (and a lot in between) with insight, wit, and more than a little grace. It's fun to read and comes in bite-sized chunks that are always entertaining, usually funny, and often poignant. Mainers—and all those who wish they were a Mainer (which covers just about everyone)—will find plenty to recognize, chew on, and enjoy."
—Angus King, former governor of Maine
"We need a Maine edition of the New Yorker, so Edgar Allen Beem can write the "Talk of the Town" section as "Talk of the Non-Town." This book is wonderful; it's observant and funny, at the same time it's modest and expresses real feelings without sentimentality. Beem's daily life is far from dull. It's many poets' terrain-vivid images—a direct tone that still communicates how much emotion is off the page. Aren't you tired of self-absorbed memoirs? Read this instead. Beem is insightful and humane."
—Ann Beattie, author of Park City: New and Selected Stories, Follies: New Stories, and the novel Chilly Scenes of Winter
Edgar Allen Beem examines, muses about, scoffs at, reveals, and celebrates everyday life in Maine, from high school sports to high-priced homes, aging dogs to aging cars, politics to religion, underwear to naps, berry-picking to clam festivals, and much, much more. Most of these short, savvy essays have appeared in The Forecaster, in Ed's "Universal Notebook" column (named for the spiral-bound reporter's notebooks that he buys two dozen at a time), or in the Maine Times, where he was a staff writer for a number of years. He started reporting when he was a sophomore at Westbrook High, writing for the Westbrook American, and aside from a stint as a librarian at the Portland Public Library after college, he's been "scribbling for a living" in Maine for his working life. Opinionated, insightful, humorous, and sometimes controversial, Ed Beem enjoys his role as a local observer, and these essays will resonate with anyone tuned in to day-to-day life in backyard Maine.
Edgar Allen Beem is a freelance writer who lives in Yarmouth, Maine. Former art critic for Maine Times, he has written about art and architecture in Maine for twenty-five years. He is a frequent contributor to Down East, Yankee, and Photo District News, and he has written for the Boston Globe Magazine, ArtNews, Design New England, Maine Boats & Harbors, Conde Nast's Traveler, and Teacher. He is the author of Maine Art Now and Maine: The Spirit of America, and he writes a weekly opinion column entitled "The Universal Notebook" for The Forecaster, a Greater Portland weekly newspaper where most of the essays in Backyard Maine originally appeared.
Tilbury House, Publishers
103 Brunswick Avenue
Gardiner, Maine 04345