Christopher Shaw captures the Adirondacks and past in new novel

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, Entertainment

Schenectady-born Christopher Shaw is known for taking Adirondacks, his culture, his history and his character, through the story.

With his latest book, he hopes to put your favorite area on the map. Published earlier this year, “The Power Line” takes readers on a journey to Lake Aurora and Lake Saranac and over time, back to the years that followed World War II. shows how the region has changed.

It is one of the few books Shaw has written over the years, fulfilling his vision of becoming a writer, which he has had since his days growing up in Stockade.

“It was the first thing I wanted to do, as soon as I read my first book. I was watching movies and movies and I realized it was a myth and I loved stories,” said Shaw.

After attending Niskayuna High School, he and a number of friends wrote a magazine called “The Hairy Eyeball.” For years, they commented on what Shaw called “their ugly poems.” After graduating, he went on to study at Bard College, where things did not go as planned.

“I went to a school full of writers, all of whom were better than I was. I dropped out of school and went to Adirondacks and later it got tough, ”said Shaw. “I was different from any other writing culture.”

Shaw spent years struggling to perform odd jobs, wandering back and forth between Schenectady and Adirondacks. However, during this time he studied and read as much as he could about Adirondacks, often searching for books in the Union College Schaffer Library.

“I spent the summer sitting in an apartment above a drugstore on Union Street and reading from end to end. [of the library] I’m 19 or 20, “said Shaw.

However, he did not know exactly what he wanted to write.

“I live in the woods in a large geodeic room with several houses around Hadley looking for something dangerous in the area but what it sounds like [works] what may have come from other places was heard, “said Shaw,” there [were] a group of writers around southwest Montana that made the whole region pay close attention to their performances. . . but everything that was written about Adirondacks, and this remains true, it was visible inside, unknown. They did not communicate or communicate well outside the area and there was not much to write. ”

Different opinions

Then, in the 1980s, when William Kennedy’s Albany Cycle was published, Shaw began to look differently in the area based on what can be described in the literature.

“[Kennedy] did with Albany and what a great community [William] What did Faulkner do in Mississippi? [Gabriel García] Márquez said in Columbia, and it spoke to the world. But I also heard in the material that they are referred to, the emergence of local dialects. You can tell that the author knows those people and has been with those people and has said a lot about those people. It opened my eyes, ”said Shaw.

He also began to do independent work, writing novels and Adirondacks. Later, Shaw became editor of Adirondack Life magazine. Where he lived for a few years – between 1980s and 1990s – it was years of production.

“I haven’t been that long but I think what we are trying to do at the moment is give the magazine a modern twist, old-fashioned journalism and a combination of poetry… Even a little fiction here and there. So I’m proud that the change took place at that time and somehow my view of the magazine continues,” ”Said Shaw.

After resigning from the post, he began working as a freelance copywriter at a local marketplace such as the New York Times Book Review; also ran the Northern Voices program on North Country Public Radio.

On top of that, he started teaching at Middlebury College shortly before writing his book, “Sacred Monkey River: A Canoe Trip with the Gods,” published in 2000. It took years to write and edit and probably came from his travels on the Usumacinta River. The book was praised by posters like Washington Post and others.

After all the work that went into the book, Shaw said he just wanted to have fun and rewrite it and started working on “The Power Line,” in the early 2000s.

“I wanted to write a book a year like my friend Jay Parini. That’s why I started doing this and I don’t teach at all, I just got sick and I published 18 months, which I think is good,” said Shaw.

However, there were a few snafus with the agent who owned the book and after Shaw worked full-time at Middlebury and ran environmental affairs there, “The Power Line” was swept under the rug, not to be erased until retiring in 2018.

Upon his return, the story was spread in various files, some digital, some physical. After compiling all the chapters together, he co-authored an artist and published the book through the Miller Pond Editions, Saranac Lake and Outskirts Press in August.

‘External connection’

In retrospect, Shaw has no recollection of what made this story so successful, but its purpose in the book is not clear.

“I wanted to write fiction that just went a long way. I wanted to write them based on the Adirondacks experience and the Adirondacks methods but for the Adirondacks that were connected externally, not internally, “said Shaw.

“The Power Line” follows the adventures of Fran Germaine, an engineer and fiddle player, and his colleague Lonnie Monroe. He works for Paul Smith’s Electric Company and as the bootlegger for Legs Diamond, a criminal during the Prohibition.

At the beginning of the book, which opened in the 1980s, Monroe sent his memories to the historian and academic, Abel St. Martin, who records the history of the occupants of Lake Saranac and Lake Aurora. The audio recordings describe the shooting at Donnelly’s Corners, Saranac Lake, in 1929. They also record a few of Germaine and Monroe’s survival.

The book later appears in the journal Rosalyn Orloff, a politician and activist Carl Jung. The magazine does not reveal much about Germaine’s story and the power of Adirondacks in American philosophy, which is often irrelevant to Shaw’s ideas.

“Something else that happened at that time was. . . this clever trick that is completely ignored in the history of Adirondacks. Do you feel that someone, [like] Robert Louis Stevenson was here, Emerson was here, but it didn’t mean anything because he doesn’t live here. . . But really, it means something, ”said Shaw.

Full book

The first part of the book is the action-packed, either Western-minded, or terrorist group, although everywhere there is a clear view of the Adirondack site, and how it has changed over the years is a further architectural and technological change.

It’s a book full of one of Shaw’s editions in Adirondack, including a “Power Line” prequel, “The Crazy Wisdom,” a book about his former relationship with Schenectady’s friend Jon Cody, and “Adirondack Mind,” his story about Adirondacks that lasts for years more than 15.

“I’m determined to come out in a variety of ways and if I have to make it my own,” Shaw said.

Meanwhile, he continues to record Adirondack Life among other stores and spends his time between Bristol, Vermont, and Lake Saranac and his wife, Sue Kavanagh.

Its advice for young writers?

“Be [a few] things that you will always be interested in and become an expert at what you can always write about it. You should have the same amount of time as breastfeeding. If it becomes dangerous you have to keep going. Much of the writing takes place in many forms of rewriting and reflection. . . . All of these things are made to find a way of life and work. You have to be willing to do other things like going on vacation to work, which I found to be very helpful. ”

“The Power Line” is available on and as an eBook on iBook and Nook. For more information visit

More from The Daily Gazette:

Comments are closed.