Author, musician Spatz coming home to Lanesborough to share his work


LANESBOROUGH -- Author and fiddler Gregory Spatz developed a love of reading and music while growing up in Lanesborough. And in the next two weekends, Spatz will return to the Berkshires to share both of his crafts.

Spatz, now a resident of Spokane, Wash., will be on hand at the Lanesborough Library this weekend to read from his most recent book. And next weekend, he will appear with his bluegrass band at the FreshGrass Festival at Mass MoCA in North Adams.

A writing professor, Spatz recently published his fifth book, "Half as Happy," with Indianapolis, Ind., company Engine Books. "Half as Happy" contains eight short stories written over 10 years; it's described by Spatz as a "nice coherent package."

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding said the stories are "wonderful and rare" and "will mend readers' hearts even as they break them."

On Sunday, he'll try out the latest on the local crowd, reading from the book during an hourlong event at the library beginning at 2 p.m.

In an interview this week, Spatz said he's read from his books locally in the past but never before in the town where he grew up -- let alone in the library he grew up reading in.

"[The library] is a half-mile from my house," he said. "I can remember walking down there as a kid. It had never occurred to me before [to have a reading there] but when it did I thought it'd be a really great idea.

"Last year I read at the Barnes & Noble in Pittsfield," he said. "I thought I'd do just as well in a place where you don't have to compete for people's attention or hear Muzak playing in the background."

Spatz said he hoped the reading might become a "a kind of impromptu Mount Greylock Regional High School class of 1982 reunion." He'll also sign copies of the book and take questions from attendees.

Spatz teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers in Spokane, Wash. His other books include "Inukshuk," "Fiddler's Dream," "No One But Us," and "Wonderful Tricks."

His stories have been carried in publications like The New Yorker, Glimmer Train Stories and The New England Review, among others. His favorite from the new collection, "No Kind of Music," concerns a man coping with tragedy through his love for classical music.

Spatz's own musical passion is for bluegrass -- he plays fiddle with the band John Reischman and the Jaybirds, who play roughly 80 shows a year all over North America.

The band, which also has upcoming dates in Brooklyn, Portland, Maine, and Boston, will perform Saturday, Sept. 21 during the FreshGrass Festival at Mass MoCA.

"We're excited to play there," Spatz said. "It looks like an interesting and eclectic lineup."

n Lanesborough Public Library, 83 Main St. Lanesborough: Gregory Spatz will read from "Half as Happy" from 2-3 p.m.

n FreshGrass Festival, Mass MoCA, Sept. 20-22:

John Reischman and the Jaybirds will play a set on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 3:45 p.m.

To reach Phil Demers:
or (413) 464-1527.
On Twitter: @BE_PhilD


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