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Short Takes for June 

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Laugh Lines: Short Comic Plays
Edited by Eric Lane and Nina Shengold
Vintage Books, April 2007, $17
Hudson Valley playwrights Laura Shaine Cunningham, Mikhail Horowitz, Edwin Sanchez, and David Smilow hit the laugh track with droll out-of-towners Steve Martin, Mark O’Donnell, Elaine May, and more. Inquiring Mind’s will sponsor a reading by Actors & Writers on June 16 at 6:30pm at ASK, 97 Broadway in Kingston.

The Secret Life of It Girls
Dakota Lane
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007, $14.99
Lane’s perfect-pitch affinity for teenage emotion informs every page of this vividly designed graphic “reality novel” featuring photos of actual local teens in fictional stories displayed like an ultrahip scrapbook. Book signing and casting call for teen photo models for an upcoming volume on June 29 at 7pm at the Kingston Barnes & Noble.

A Kayaker’s Guide to the Hudson River Valley: The Quieter Waters: Rivers, Creeks, Lakes, and Ponds
Shari Aber
Black Dome, June 2007, $16.95
Where others have charted the region’s whitewater, Aber explores the mellower paddles in Tivoli Bays, Harriman’s Seven Lakes, the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, and area creeks. Each entry includes mileage, put-in points, hazards, and scenic rewards. Launch party at the Kingston Kayak Festival on June 9 from 10am to 4pm at Kingston Point Park.

The Weight of Smoke
George Robert Minkoff
McPherson & Co., 2006, $24.95
Kingston publisher Scott McPherson has released the first of three volumes in Hudson Valley author Minkoff’s epic historical fiction. Set in the Jamestown, Virginia, of 400 years ago, this richly imagined book re-creates the early contacts between Europeans and Amerindians from the viewpoint of a very poetic Capt. John Smith.

Teachers United: The Rise of New York State United Teachers
Dennis Gaffney
State University of New York Press, 2007, $25
SUNY Albany journalism professor Gaffney’s well-researched, gripping labor history describes NYSUT’s rise from a group of idealists battling such obstacles as second-generation leftists whose parents “would die” if they joined a trade union. Led by Albert Shanker, it became an international force that advised Solidarnosc and other unions.

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