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Cursed in New England: Stories of Damned Yankees
     

Cursed in New England: Stories of Damned Yankees

by Joseph Citro, Jeff White (Illustrator)
 

New Englanders are always cursing. But a colorful profanity uttered by some sterotypically tactiturn old Yankee is usually more humorous than menacing. Yet, true maledictions (the opposite of benedicitons) have frequently been spoken on New England soil, curses intended to invoke evil, injury, or total destruction against other people.
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Overview

New Englanders are always cursing. But a colorful profanity uttered by some sterotypically tactiturn old Yankee is usually more humorous than menacing. Yet, true maledictions (the opposite of benedicitons) have frequently been spoken on New England soil, curses intended to invoke evil, injury, or total destruction against other people.
Stories about preternatural revenge are numerous in Yankee lore, with each New England state providing its favorites. Some are well known, at least regionally. Others are nearly forgotten. Within these pages, renowned storyteller Joseph A. Citro vividly brings these tales to life, letting us decide if these tales of woe were bad luck or ... something else.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Vermont native Citro has spent years studying the darker side of New England; in books such as Passing Strange, Curious New England and Green Mountains, Dark Trails he's told stories of hauntings and horrors, of mysteries and superstitions. Here he examines some of the area's most famous curses, from the 1600s through the 1960s, and while his tone is generally impartial ("in the interest of journalistic objectivity"), he admits a fascination that verges on belief. Convicted citizens who knew themselves to be innocent often pronounced final curses on their accusers (Citro reports that in the late 17th century, after being told by a condemned woman that God would give him blood to drink, a dishonest cleric suffered an internal hemorrhage and drowned in his own blood), while desperate people called down evil on those who had refused them help (in the early 19th century, Citro writes, a woman who has been refused passage on a Lake Champlain steamship caused it to burst into flame). In most of these stories, the curses act as the vengeance of the powerless on the powerful. Citro does a fine job of presenting the evidence for curses, but he's not afraid to debunk them either. Creepy b&w illustrations add to the pleasure of this informative and entertaining volume for all students of the supernatural. — Publishers Weekly

KLIATT
This is a collection of stories and legends about New England curses and their unpleasant results. Many of them are related to the Salem witch trials or the destruction of Native American tribes in the area, but some take place in the 20th century. Unfortunately for its fascinating subject matter, Cursed is a book with an identity crisis. It can't seem to decide whether it's a well-researched collection of tales from New England history or simply a series of spooky stories. (Each chapter lists sources but gives no specific citations, and there is no index.) The author claims "journalistic objectivity," but gives the book as "evidence that there are powers in this world so subtle and sinister that they can work inexorably against us without our even knowing it." This is definitely not a children's book, and should be approached with caution as a book for YAs: it is graphically violent and gruesome (not to mention the sacrilegious nature of its subject matter, if your institution is concerned about such things). Still, as a New England librarian it would be hard not to love a book that begins, "New Englanders curse all the time." KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Globe Pequot Press, 232p. notes., Ages 15 to adult.
—Samantha Musher

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780762728688
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
09/01/2004
Series:
Cursed Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Cheating the Devil?
Finally, in 1844, Paul Doran, who had donated the land, hit upon another simple scheme. "Look," he said to the assembled work crew, "you know the words of the curse as well as I do: 'The first man to break ground for the church will die a sudden death'."
He had the crowd's attention; all eyes stared expectantly at him.
"The curse clearly says, 'the first man'," he continued, emphasizing the word. "My wife Mary-who I assure you is no man-has volunteered to break ground so our work here may begin."
In was an inventive solution. The assembled workers cheered as Paul Doran made a big show of handing a spade to his wife.
With equal flourish Mary plunged the spade to the ground, modestly hiked up her skirt just a bit, and used her thick-soled shoe to drive the shovel into the earth. Nothing happened. The ground was much too hard. A laborer nearby handed her a crowbar with which she vigorously hacked at the earth, leaving a deep gash. At last, church ground was broken!
But perhaps the effort was too much for her.
For a moment Mary Doran stood there wide-eyed, as if something unseen had slapped her soundly on the backside. Then, slumping a little at the knees, she clutched the crowbar as if it were a cane. She tried to remain standing but her legs wouldn't hold. Rushing forward, her husband grabbed her just as she began to fall. He lowered her gently to the earth where she died moments later in his arms.

Meet the Author

Novelist and public radio commentator JOSEPH A. CITRO has done a lot to keep Vermont's history and folklore alive in popular culture. His books include five novels of suspense, three volumes of historical oddities, a collection of regional humor, and a travel guide. Mr. Citro's best-selling Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls And Unsolved Mysteries (Houghton Mifflin, 1994) is the most comprehensive compilation of offbeat Vermontiana ever assembled (now in its 10th printing). It was supplemented by Passing Strange (1996), Green Mountains, Dark Tales (1999) and The Vermont Ghost Guide (2000). His novels — three of which have been optioned for motion pictures — present a dark and mystical side of the Vermont experience. They include Shadow Child, Guardian Angels, The Gore, Lake Monsters and Deus-X. Joseph Citro's Vermont Public Radio commentary series is heard regularly in five states and Canada . A native of Chester, Vermont, he has taught in local colleges, lectured widely, and appeared on regional and national radio and television. Two videos based on his Vermont oddities is currently in the works.

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