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Montpelier author Thomas Christopher Greene shares 'tiny true stories' in new book

"I hope they make you laugh, smile, wonder and bring you a measure of joy," Thomas Christopher Greene writes of the stories collected in his new book.
Courtesy of Thomas Christopher Greene/Rootstock Publishing
"I hope they make you laugh, smile, wonder and bring you a measure of joy," Thomas Christopher Greene writes of the stories collected in his new book.

During the pandemic, people searched for connection in all sorts of ways — talking over the fence to their neighbors, social distance dining, and Zoom hangouts. Thomas Christopher Greene sat on his porch in Montpelier, chatted with neighbors, watched the world, and wrote down stories. They’re now collected in his nonfiction debut, "Notes from the Porch: Tiny True Stories to Make You Feel Better about the World," which came out in February 2024.

Greene is the author of six novels, including the international bestseller "The Headmaster’s Wife." He’s also the founder of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he served as president for 13 years, and he owns Hugo’s Bar & Grill in Montpelier.

In "Notes from the Porch," Greene collected stories that he originally shared on social media during the pandemic. "The response to them was really remarkable," he said. "The one little gift I had was the ability to tell a story that may make someone's day a little brighter."

Many of the stories are vignettes of people Greene has crossed paths with during his life in Vermont, like a man named Clyde who "lived like a pauper" on Mirror Lake near Montpelier. When he died, Greene discovered he had a hidden love — and a hidden fortune.

"He died with $20 million that he left all to his church," Greene said, "even though he lived like he couldn't pay the heat!"

Other stories show Greene wrestling with the isolation of the pandemic. He compares the height of the pandemic to grief — always present, and only curable by time.

Grief is a feeling with which Greene is intimately familiar. "Notes from the Porch" marks the first time he has shared stories about the death of his infant daughter Jane, who was born months premature.

"It was incredibly hard to write," Greene said. "I wrote it with tears in my eyes the entire time. But I got through it. And I hope it resonates with people who have had a similar experience."

The feisty and tender comments of his other precocious daughter, Sarah, also populate the book. Greene said she hasn't read it yet, but it's there for her when she's ready.

"She'll probably fact-check it like crazy," Greene added with a laugh.

Broadcast live on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.