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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

New Novel 'The Wizard Of Odd' Centers On General Store In Fictional NEK Village

The words General Store written in red text on a white sign atop the exterior of a building.
In Gary Meffe's debut novel, "The Wizard of Odd," life in the fictional Northeast Kingdom village of Oddertown orbits around its tiny general store.

Oddertown is a small, fictional village in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom that actually seems quite real. In Gary Meffe's debut novel, The Wizard of Odd, life in Oddertown orbits around its tiny general store and the colorful characters who eat, drink and hold court there on nearly every topic under the sun.

"General stores are often the lifeblood of a town," Meffe said in an interview with VPR. "They're the epicenter, they're where everything happens."

Author Gary Meffe stands with arms folded in front of a bookshelf
Credit Courtesy of the author
Author Gary Meffe will be reading from his debut novel at this weekend's Bookstock festival in Woodstock.

The author told VPR that Odderton's store isn't based on a particular one he has encountered, but rather on a blend of personal experiences.

"My wife and I moved to Vermont 12 years ago. We love the state, we've traveled it extensively. We visit general stores and country stores wherever we go," Meffe said. "We stop and talk to people and listen and observe, and all of that — including, and especially, my hometown of Brandon — all comes together I think in this book."

In the novel, the main character Kate — who has inherited the country store from her grandfather — has to save the business, which is facing a large amount of debt. Kate looks to Jim Watson, the titular "wizard," to potentially help her in this endeavor.

More from VPR: NEK Community Rallies To Bring Back Albany General Store [April 19]

While the Odderton store is fictional, Meffe noted that many similar stores in the state do struggle and this book can remind readers of that.

"It's, I think, a call to Vermonters to pay attention," Meffe said, "not only to their country stores, but all their small local businesses, and really support them and keep them going."

Listen to Meffe's extended conversation with VPR's Mitch Wertlieb above. The author will be reading from The Wizard of Odd on Friday at 3 p.m. as part of the Bookstock festival in Woodstock.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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