Author and populist activist Carolyn Chute will continue her homespun publicity tour to talk about her latest book, and anything else on people’s minds, when she stops by an art gallery in North Berwick on Saturday afternoon.

Chute, a Parsonsfield writer best known for the 1985 novel “The Beans of Egypt, Maine,” will visit Blackbird Studio and Gallery from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Her latest novel is “Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves.”

But don’t expect her to read from the book, necessarily. When Chute made an appearance at Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick in February, she mostly held court.

“She didn’t really want to read from the book,” bookstore owner Gary Lawless said. “She was much more interested in what people had to say and wanted to say, so she just had a long conversation with people who showed up. She was a lot of fun. Everyone who came really had a good time, and felt they had spent time in Carolyn’s living room. It was very personable.”

She told stories about her life and talked about her writing, he said, offering insight into publishing while lamenting trends that discourage long-form novels. Her latest novel is nearly 700 pages.

She does not bring copies of her books to her appearances to sell, but encourages people to bring their own if they would like her to sign them.


Chute, 67, lives in western Maine, near the New Hampshire border. She doesn’t use email or a phone. Her appearance in North Berwick was arranged by Rick Burns of Berwick, a former state legislator. He and Chute are friends, and he will drive to Parsonsfield on Saturday to pick her up, deliver her to the gallery and bring her home later in the day.

Saturday’s appearance is a cooperative effort of Blackbird and the Berwick Art Association. Burns is a founding member of the art association, and also shows work at Blackbird.

The gallery opens for the season on Wednesday. Burns hopes “the celebrity of Carolyn Chute” draws to the gallery people who otherwise might not visit. He’s hoping for a full house – and good weather – so people can be outside if the gallery isn’t large enough for the crowd. “Everywhere I go, when I mention the name Carolyn Chute, working people know who she is,” Burns said.

Chute’s debut novel made her famous. “The Beans of Egypt, Maine” showed a side of Maine never seen in the tourism brochures: Trailer-park families prone to violence, drinking and unprotected sex. It also focused attention on her life in rural Maine, where she lives remotely with guns and dogs.

She has published several books, including “The School on Heart’s Content Road” in 2008. “Treat Us Like Dogs” is set in Egypt, Maine, and continues her stories of the “other” Maine, where blue tarps, rusted cars and abandoned washers in the yard announce poverty the way fancy cars, pleasure boats and shingle-sided outbuildings announce the wealth of the coast.

Reviewing Chute’s latest book in The New York Times, Maine writer Bill Roorbach called her “a James Joyce of the backcountry, a Proust of rural society, an original in every meaning of the word. She inhabits everyone in her creation, sees everything that goes on within it. And though we might at times rather look away, we readers see everything – and everyone – too.”

Chute will also be at Kittery’s Traip Academy at 6 p.m. May 12.

This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. on April 13, 2015 to correct the location of Chute’s reading in Kittery.

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