As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “Three Questions”. In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam in the week leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.
We are pleased to welcome Rob Gurwitt and Rob Mermim, the authors of Circus Smirkus: 25 Years of Running Home to the Circus. This book chronicles the story of Circus Smirkus, a special traveling international youth circus, created by Rob Mermin in response to his own question from long ago, “What would a society feel like,” he wondered, “in which there was humor without malice, laughter without scorn, decency in human relations, delight in sharing skills without aggressive competition?”
In 1987, after a long apprenticeship as a clown in Europe, he set out to create that society on a small patch of farmland in Greensboro, Vermont, and for the 25 years since, Circus Smirkus has been transforming the lives of its young performers – aged 10 to 18 – and inspiring audiences wherever it plays.
CIRCUS SMIRKUS: 25 Years of Running Home to the Circus is the story of his vision.The authors will appear at the Norwich Bookstore on Wednesday, July 18th at 7 pm. Call 802-649-1114 to reserve your spot for this very special evening.
This is the first time we’ve interviewed co-authors for 3 Questions so bear with us! Listed first are Rob Mermin’s responses and Rob Gurwitt’s immediately follow.
Rob Mermin, the founder of Circus Smirkus, ran off to Europe when he was nineteen to begin a 40-year career in circus, theater and TV. He trained in classical mime with Etienne Decroux and Marcel Marceau. He is also the former dean of Ringling Bros. Clown College. Rob’s awards include Copenhagen’s Gold Clown; Best Director Prize at the former Soviet Union’s International Festival on the Black Sea; and the Governor’s Award for Excellence, Vermont’s highest honor in the arts. Rob lives in Montpelier, Vermont.
“Freddy the Pig” series by Walter Brooks were the first books I ever took out of the library when I was a kid. Freddy was at various times a detective, explorer, magician, politician, cowboy, poet, and daydreamer. He surely set me on the path to Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and others tales of worldly travel and grand adventure.
Mark Twain, to laugh and complain about the human race.
About to open Hermann Hesse’s novel about the artist’s life, The Glass Bead Game, which I read when I was twenty. I’m wondering about my response to it now, after 40 years. I love to revisit good books.
Rob Gurwitt is a freelance writer who lives in Norwich, Vermont. As a writer, he got toknow Circus Smirkus on a magazine assignment in 1999, and he and his family have been captivated by circuses ever since. His two children are performing with Circus Smirkus this summer. It is their second year on tour with the troupe.
When I was about 12, I discovered The Best of Gregory Clark on my parents’ shelves. He was a wry, observant columnist and storyteller for the Toronto Star between the wars, tapping out gems of emotion and truth in tight prose that felt roomy. I still read him. Same with Meyer “Mike” Berger, the first “About New York” columnist for the NY Times, who found little story bombs in what everyone else considered the humdrum and commonplace. Every writer should take lessons from him. Finally, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children was the first book that made me go, “Oh my God, people can write like that!” Not that I ever could.
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. I know, I’m late to the game — but all of you who’ve already read it, don’t you envy me for getting to read it for the first time?