Brunswick writer Paul Betit talks about his newest book Let Me Tell A Story and how it came to be at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St.
Quite a departure from the military crime fiction novels Betit has written in the past, Let Me Tell A Story is a mix of short fiction and memoir, a collection of stories that take place over a span of more than 50 years.
The book starts with a tale about a 12-year-old Augusta boy who learns some life lessons during a 1959 family trip to Aroostook County. It ends with a piece about an elderly couple learning some lessons of their own while coming to grips with old age in modern-day Brunswick.
“The book reads like a novel, but it isn’t one,” Betit said. “The narrator in one story is not necessarily the narrator of the next story or any of the stories that follow, but the book has a definite chronological arc and a nostalgic, melancholy feel to it.”
Half of the ten stories in Let Me Tell A Story take place in Maine, and a lot of the pieces were inspired by Betit’s experiences during the Vietnam War and its aftermath.
“The inspiration for most of the stories come from incidents in my own life,” Betit said. “I took poetic license in how those events are portrayed. ”
One reviewer, Maine newspaper columnist and blogger George Smith of Mount Vernon, liked the book’s blend of fact with fiction. “I would love to know what is fact and what is fiction, but part of the fun is trying to figure that out,” he said.
Previously, Betit published Phu Bai, Kagnew Station and The Man In The Canal. These crime novels are set in South Vietnam, Ethiopia and Sweden, respectively, during the late 60s and early 70s. The series follows the adventures of U.S. Army CID investigator John Murphy.
While promoting those books Betit often read early versions of a few of the stories that appear in Let Me Tell A Story at events. “It was a good change of pace and the stories seemed well received,” he said.
For more than 40 years, Betit, who grew up in Augusta, worked as a general assignment newspaper reporter or sportswriter. A former sports editor of the Kennebec Journal, he still covers high school, college and pro sports on a freelance basis for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, the newspapers where he spent most of his career.
Following high school, Betit spent four years in the U.S. Army Security Agency as an intelligence analyst. He received letters of commendation for his work while on assignment in South Vietnam and Ethiopia, the settings for his first two crime novels. Later, Betit earned a degree in journalism from the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in Brunswick with his wife Debbie. They have two sons.
During his talks, Betit shares back-stories, reads from current writing projects and talks about the creative process and the publishing game. He always leaves plenty of time for Q&A.
Inscribed copies of all four of Betit’s books will be available for purchase at discounted prices.