Books By Rhode Islanders at Symposium

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So much talent in this state! Here are some interesting and useful books written by people who have lived, learned, and loved in Rhode Island. All are available at Symposium.



by Leah Carroll

Leah Carroll’s mother, a gifted amateur photographer, was murdered by two drug dealers with Mafia connections when Leah was four years old. Her father, a charming alcoholic who hurtled between depression and mania, was dead by the time she was eighteen. Why did her mother have to die? Why did the man who killed her receive such a light sentence? What darkness did Leah inherit from her parents? Leah was left to put together her own future and, now in her memoir, she explores the mystery of her parents’ lives, through interviews, photos, and police records. DOWN CITY is a raw, wrenching memoir of a broken family and an indelible portrait of Rhode Island- a tiny state where the ghosts of mafia kingpins live alongside the feisty, stubborn people working hard just to get by. Heartbreaking, and mesmerizing, it’s the story of a resilient young woman’s determination to discover the truth about a mother she never knew and the deeply troubled father who raised her-a man who was, Leah writes, “both my greatest champion and biggest obstacle.”


Spectacles and Spectators

by Keri King

Slip into an ambiguously Victorian fantasy world and follow a cast of fashionably dressed animals through a madcap tale of art and crime in high society. Read ‘Spectacles & Spectators,’ a visual storybook for grownups with pictures and words by Keri King. Produced in limited edition at DWRI Letterpress in Providence, RI; each artist book is printed on an offset press and feature a letterpress cover.

Keri currently teaches art to students at the Wolf School, a K-8 private special education school located in East Providence, RI. She has also taught performing arts workshops on the subjects of vaudeville entertainment and the “Roaring Twenties” to students ages 8-14, through teaching artist programs such as I Was There at Vartan Gregorian Elementary School and Open Enrollment at Providence City Arts for Youth. Her professional service includes work with the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, the Providence Children’s Film Festival, the RISD Museum, and the Edward Gorey House.


The RI Family Hiking Guide and Journal

by Jeanine Silversmith

Whether you are experienced hikers or totally new to the trails, The Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide and Journal has everything you need to help you prepare for and enjoy exploring the great outdoors with children of all ages and abilities.

The 42 family-friendly hikes include short, stroller-friendly walks as well as longer, more rugged excursions throughout Rhode Island. Each hike description includes essential and helpful information, a detailed map, and driving directions, as well as journal pages for your family to use to reflect upon and document your experiences.

Silversmith tested the hikes with her own children, ages 7 and 10, and asked other parents to do the same. Each is rated in terms of difficulty for kids, from easy “strolls” to more challenging “treks.”

Similar to the purpose of her free Rhode Island Families in Nature meet-up group, she hopes the guide will motivate families to “get away from screens” and spend time together outside.


The Last Good Heist

by Tim White, Randall Richard, and Wayne Worcester

On Aug. 14, 1975, eight daring thieves ransacked 148 massive safe-deposit boxes at a secret bank used by organized crime, La Cosa Nostra, and its associates in Providence, R.I. The crooks fled with duffle bags crammed full of cash, gold, silver, stamps, coins, jewels and high-end jewelry. The true value of the loot has always been kept secret, partly because it was ill-gotten to begin with, and partly because there was plenty of incentive to keep its true worth out of the limelight. It’s one thing for authorities to admit they didn’t find a trace of goods worth from $3 million to $4 million, and entirely another when what was at stake was more accurately valued at about $30 million, the equivalent of $120 million today. It was the biggest single payday in the criminal history of the Northeast. Nobody came close, not the infamous James “Whitey” Bulger, not John “The Dapper Don” Gotti, not even the Brinks or Wells Fargo robbers. The heist was bold enough and big enough to rock the underworld to its core, and it left La Cosa Nostra in the region awash in turmoil that still reverberates more than forty years later. Last Good Heist is the inside story of the robbery and its aftermath.


Why Love

by Robert Koppel

“I’m alive in the Nighthawks, above a coral reef of truth and lies, the recipient of far too many short Joe Louis’s and a series of long loopers to the body and chin. A bit of illuminated ceiling brightens the interior. Outside, dull hues predominate. Inside, triangular countertop, yellow door, anonymous figures in boxy suits. The only hint of life and color, a soda jerk in white uniform, and the red blouse of a customer. Reconstructed from memory, wrestling with allusion, searching for the meaning of love, I lock on the light and all that it touches.”

So begins WHY LOVE?, the story of Ira Fleckenstein and his crazy family. Inspired by Greek mythology, Yiddish theater, the God particle, and the songs of Burt Bacharach, our hero embarks on a punch-drunk Proustian odyssey. Aided by Borko Khortokofsky, a Nobel laureate; Papa Francesco, the Pope; Aunt Sonya, the Athena of Yevreyskaya; and the mysterious Stephen, Ira searches for the answer to the universal question, what’s it all about, Alfie? The reflection of Wittgenstein is never far away. The novel is a love story and the writing of a love story, all rolled into one; full of false starts, dashed plans, deep feeling, wild humor, and triumph.

ROBERT KOPPEL is the critically acclaimed author of more than a dozen books translated into many languages. His previous novel, THE NEXT STEP, tells the story of a Wall Street titan who, losing everything, reinvents himself as a FedEx shipping clerk. In the process, he saves the world and achieves redemption.





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