By all accounts, I’ve been a city boy on this leg of the tour—with a little dabbling in the thicket here & there. So once I got out into the original American pastoral, I was like a dog at the beach: so thrilled by the openness that I was ziggin’ & zaggin’, not quite sure which direction I wanted to run first (also yelling with glee, rolling around, & sniffing everything out of unbridled curiosity). I’m talking big trees—I’m talking windy country switchbacks—I’m talking babbling brooks rambling past old mills in the middle of nowhere. Clearly, I’m talking about rolling up to the Montague Bookmill in the sticks outside Amherst, Massachusetts. Blogging can’t quite replicate the sensation of thumbing through a big ol’ volume—only glancing up now & then to the rain pattering down while the Sawmill River gurgles its perpetual song. Indeed, originally a gristmill built in 1842, it’s been kept up under a variety of guises until 1987, when renovations began and bookshelves were installed. It’s a fairy-tale of a bookstore, and the scenery outside is just the beginning…Being in Amherst felt like a pilgrimage in a way. The birthplace of our noble endeavor, so to speak, where the Joshua Beckman/Matthew Zapruder power duo first came crashing together. Much collaborating, dozens of books, and pushing a decade down the line, here I am in a literary energy vortex. Pretty wicked. Not only that, but just up the street from Emily Dickinson’s pad (!!!!) is the home of Amherst Books. No stranger to Wave, they have a way of making it hard to miss those creamy white covers—about every other spine on the shelf—along with a huge selection of small presses of all shapes & sizes. And since I had just had the pleasure of a visit to the lovely Dara Wier, it only made sense that they had a back-catalog a whole shelf deep of her work too. I checked in with co-founder Mark Wootton (seen here holding it down), and along with being completely gracious he seemed completely unsurprised by Wave folk making themselves known. We’ve apparently infested the place. Just check the shelves & you’ll know what I mean. There’s a whole Wave-friendly clan making noise around the Amherst area, and along with Dara Wier’s hand in seemingly every pot is the brother/sister duo, Guy & Emily Pettit, running (Wave partner) Flying Object and the incredible Factory Hollow Press out of a beautiful space in Hadley. I dropped in on Guy for a couple rounds, then had the pleasure of seeing a performance by (yet another duo!) JIMMYBROOKS at the Flying Object space. Amherst’s finest were out, carousing among the letterpresses (one below) and the incredible book selection. If I wasn’t still in dog-at-the-beach mode, I’d love to stay around for some more events, classes, printing projects, workshops, and everything else that makes Flying Object an invaluable resource in Western Massachusetts for writers & readers alike.