Book: Where the Styles Brook Waters Flow
Excerpt from Foreword
There are few things more rewarding than researching and writing about a place you love. Some of us are born in the places that will always be our spiritual homes, while others move around for a while before finding the place where they belong more than anywhere else, where everything that came before was preparing them for their geographical lodestone. Lorraine Duvall found the Valley of Styles Brook, just northeast of the Adirondack High Peaks, as an adult. This book is the product of her affection for the Valley, its people, and its history….
In the Adirondacks, we have many opportunities to conclude that human alterations of what nature has provided might seem appropriate in the short term but don’t necessarily solve our problems. Learning this is always possible, but we don’t always take the long view. Lorraine Duvall’s book on the Styles Brook Valley invites us to take that long view and see what it can teach us.
—Philip Terrie, Adirondack author and historian
Review by Céline Keating
Where the Styles Brook Waters Flow: The Place I Call Home by Lorraine Duvall is a love song to "The Glen" and to the richness and importance of the Styles Brook Watershed, part of the wildlife corridor called the Split Rock Wildway in NY’s eastern Adirondack Mountains. Like a river, the book flows from one facet to another—from its history, to a modern land use controversy, to an in-depth look at the local impact of Hurricane Irene. She traces her own personal story of coming to know and love the area and describes the delicate balance of privacy and interconnectivity that is the way of life in rural areas. Duvall’s latest contribution to Adirondack lore continues to illustrate the area’s vibrant and fascinating life.
—Céline Keating, author of The Stark Beauty of Last Things
Book: Finding A Woman’s Place
Introduction by Tyler Barton for a presentation on Finding A Woman's Place at the Adirondack Center for Writing, November 2022
Early in the second chapter of Lorraine Duvall's personal history Finding A Woman's Place, she describes a visit to the site of a 1970s women's commune in Athol, NY, her first time in the area in decades. She walks the property with camera in hand and passes a placard on a barn that reads, You Are Being Photographed. She writes, "I'm being photographed, while photographing."
It's a quiet, whimsical moment that interrupts her conscious fear of being approached or questioned by a local, but it's also a fitting description for her entire project: she's documenting a place, a time, and a group of women, while also documenting herself.
Finding A Woman's Place tells the story of a little-known community experiment in the Adirondacks, but simultaneously it shares Duvall's own journey through life and through her research process. She shares her own personal passion for equality, for sisterhood, for liberty, for understanding. That's what I loved most about the project, that it's simultaneously a history and a memoir-- a photograph and a selfie. If it were simply a history, it would be an important book; if it were simply an autobiography, it would be an interesting one. But, because Duvall artfully weaves both history and memoir, the book is something different, something special, something unforgettable.
Review by Timothy Miller
It’s an excellent book, and Duvall’s engaging way of writing kept me turning the pages.
The 1960s era (late 1960s, early 1970s) saw many social upheavals, among them activism against the war in Vietnam, a new wave of feminism, and the countercultural explosion epitomized by the catchphrase “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” One part of the era’s passion was a surge in back-to-the-land yearnings that resulted in the founding of thousands of intentional communities, the greatest such outpouring in American history.
Among those communities were many dozens, likely over a hundred, of women-only enclaves. Although all- or mostly-female communities had existed earlier, the new women’s communes were a major but often little-noticed part of the 1960s-era communal scene–little noticed in part because they often deliberately tried to maintain low profiles. They offered refuge for women driven to escape patriarchal oppression and often served as centers for consciousness-raising workshops and other feminist gatherings and projects.
The largest numbers of women’s communities were in the American West, especially the Pacific Northwest, but others were scattered throughout the country. Lorraine Duvall’s new book, Finding A Woman’s Place: The Story of a 1970s Feminist Collective in the Adirondacks, provides a detailed account of A Woman’s Place, a small but influential community in Athol, New York. Duvall’s research for the book was exhaustive; she combed feminist and regional archives and traveled extensively to track down and interview women who had lived or visited there, as well as neighbors who had observed the community during its eight years of existence. The storyline of the book artfully combines the history of AWP with the story of Duvall’s search for that history.
The book tells its story evenly. Although Duvall obviously has great fondness for the place she chronicles, she keeps her depiction of it balanced. Not every part of the story is pretty: there are interpersonal conflicts (has any intentional community not had those?), problems with the property, especially in the thirty-below Adirondack winter, and hard decisions (as with most feminist communes, letting single mothers bring their male children with them was an ongoing bone of contention). Financial shortfalls were a severe, ongoing disaster. But the dedication of an evolving group of women kept AWP open for eight years, until exhaustion and the ever-present funding struggle brought it to an end in 1982.
Duvall’s writing flows beautifully and keeps one reading. She weaves her personal story artfully with that of the community. Intentional communities are powered by ideals, and the idealism of AWP is presented on every page of the book. We all owe Lorraine Duvall a debt of gratitude for the enormous effort and talent she has given her readers.
—Timothy Miller, Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies, University of Kansas, author of numerous books on intentional communities, including The Encyclopedic Guide to American Intentional Communities; The Quest for Utopia in the Twentieth-Century America, Volume I: 1900–1960; The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond
Book: In Praise of Quiet Waters
Reading Lorraine Duvall’s heartfelt memoir compels me to revisit these quiet lakes, ponds, and river of the Adirondacks and also to redouble our efforts to secure more peaceful places in this over-crowded, over-motorized world. I found the range of topics fascinating. What she’s done is useful and important.
—Dick Beamish, Founder Adirondack Explorer magazine
How refreshing, in this age of high-octane thrill-seeking, to read a peaceful affirmation of wild, quiet waters. Lorraine Duvall’s book, In Praise of Quiet Waters, will inspire people of all ages and abilities to get out and explore Adirondack Park’s wondrous waterways.
—John Davis, A wildlands explorer, author BIG, WILD, and Connected: Scouting an Eastern Wildway from the Everglades to Quebec
In her Preface to In Praise of Quiet Waters: Finding Solitude and Adventure in the Wild Adirondacks, Lorraine Duvall of Keene explains that the book is ‘an account of my 25-year search for adventure and spiritual renewal on the waters of the Adirondack Park.’ But it’s more than that. She goes on to provide reflective essays on canoeing many parts of the Adirondacks: Little Tupper Lake, the daunting Lake Champlain, the newly opened Essex Chain Lakes, and several more, interspersing these with comments on the evolution of her own wilderness ethic, the history of advocacy, and the quandary of navigation rights, all of which serves to make this book deeper than merely a chronicle of outings.
—Neal Burdick, Adirondac magazine
Book: And I Know Too Much To Pretend
Although history is often told through the tales of a handful of great people doing a handful of big courageous things, in fact, history plays itself out in the slow accretion of a large number of small acts of courage undertaken by a small number of regular people.
The small number grows, and the small acts become a movement, and thus the world is changed.
Lorraine Duvall has made history, and this eminently readable memoir tells her humble tale. She made many choices in her life that went against expectation, choices often controversial, always difficult, but always made out of her strong inner sense of self and a desire to live life in her own way.
Called out at an early age by a teacher for being too much of a follower, Duvall took that criticism deeply to heart, and although she did not then become a leader, necessarily, she did take on the responsibility of being true to herself. In college, she chose to major in math. A mathematics major is still, statistically, an unusual choice for a woman in college, but that choice in the 1960s was striking. Duvall then went on to a career in the still-young, largely male computer industry. As it was growing rapidly, it offered more opportunities for women than the more staid, traditional industries.
But juggling that with the role of wife and then mother, with its traditional expectations, proved more challenging than she had imagined in the suburban culture in which she settled with her family. Her husband tolerated her desire to remain in the work field on a part-time basis, but he still expected her to perform all the roles of a “homemaker.” But the ’60s were unfolding, and slowly women were coming together, whispering – or shouting – their interest in living fully actualized lives. Duvall benefitted from the encounter-group movement of that era. Her fellow women emboldened each other to say no to being treated less-than – in marriage, in education, in sex, in work.
Again and again, Duvall had to rise above expectations that drew her away from her true sense of herself and what she wanted her life to be. Divorce, trying to share in the upbringing of her daughter, building her career, even choosing where to live all required Duvall to dig deep, seek support in a largely unsupportive world, and move forward.
She also tapped into another burgeoning movement in the U.S., the adoption of the traditions of some of the Eastern religions: yoga, meditation, the pursuit of spiritual development. As she learned more through her engagement with this world, her ability to chart her own path seemed to become, if not easy, at least less harrowing.
Nursing a lifelong interest in the Adirondacks, her choices began to bring her to the mountains. She again managed to create a path toward her desire: a life in the Adirondacks, on her own terms, on her own land. She leaves us with a photo of her very own “somewhere over the rainbow” in this engaging memoir of quiet courage.
—Marilyn McCabe, Author – poetry and essays “Duvall helps make history in new book,” Adirondack Daily Enterprise
I’ve just read your wonderful book. It appealed to me in so many ways. Sometimes memoir bogs down as the writer gnashes her teeth and wrings her hands – but not yours. It was briskly paced with no hand-wringing at all. Instead there was action, and I think that’s part of what made it uplifting—that whole sense of your recognizing a problem, assessing it and working on a solution.
I also liked that, although you were taking big risks and struggling to make changes in the way women were perceived in the workforce, you didn’t seem judgmental about women who were happy and satisfied with the old roles, or who chose not to shake up the system and fight for change. Your tone overall remained positive, which I think works really well for the book. You describe from first-hand experience an important time in history, and that makes it fascinating. The additional research is evident and documented, clearly making it more than one woman’s story – another plus.
—Persis Granger, Author, Editor, Retreat Organizer
The pull of a place is undeniable—thankfully, Lorraine answered the call. Mountains of books narrate tales of being lured to the Adirondacks to hunt, fish, and explore. At last an unabashed woman unmasks her pioneering spirit and recounts the twisted path that so many women have walked to come here to "honor this part of heaven."
Duvall has put herself out on a limb, serving as a brazen model of what is possible. Lorraine, I say to you: "I want that!… I am woman… I know too much to go back and pretend.”
—Sandra Weber, Adirondack author
As an elderly male, I would not have expected to enjoy reading a memoir with this title. A friend sent it to me, and I was surprised to find that I loved it! It is a wonderful exploration of those amazing years (1950s and 60s) when feminism began to take root.
It’s hard to believe how many ways men mistreated women then. Duvall is a master storyteller, and her tales of prejudice and support, of cowardice and bravery, truly hit home. Give this book a read and you will be the richer for it.
—John Dacey, Ph.D., Professor, Boston College, and Author of 13 books on the subjects of anxiety, creativity, and family relations
Lorraine Duvall of Keene, NY has written a riveting first book entitled And I Know Too Much to Pretend. How many of us wish that we could make a statement like that and mean it?
We follow Ms. Duvall from her early childhood in Binghamton, NY to her first days spent in her beloved Adirondack Mountain home.
We all know about discrimination on some level. We hear about it in the news regarding various religious, gender or sexual issues. Some of us may have experienced it on a more personal level. Ms. Duvall tells compelling stories of her encounters, ones that will shock those who came of age after feminism took root in the 60s and 70s.
She spent her life trying to reconcile her need to be an independent woman as a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife and a mother—and while holding many high-level jobs in the emergence of the computer world. These feelings clashed over the years, as we female readers can certainly understand. The remarkable thing about Ms. Duvall is that she did something about it. She held true to her internal feelings that women are indeed stronger and more intelligent than we are often given credit for.
I do not want to spoil your reading of the book by giving away too much of it; suffice it to say that Ms. Duvall followed some unusual paths and made some controversial choices as an independent woman. Some of these paths and choices may resonate in her readers’ minds, either because they did some of these things themselves or perhaps because they wish that they had done them. Whatever the case may be, I want to applaud Ms. Duvall for making these often-difficult decisions and reaching this point in her life able to share them with us. Her words are strong. Her search was devastating at times and soulful at other times. We readers will come away with a joyful feeling that she did make it, feeling that perhaps we can become more independent through learning about her struggles and the struggles of other women like her.
Finally, I would like to say thank you to Ms. Duvall for allowing me this opportunity to read her book before it hits the press. It was a unique event for me to have this experience. I will always treasure it, as I do this book and as I do the pleasure of knowing Ms. Duvall. I’ve gained a wonderful understanding of the woman’s movement, the use of yoga in one’s everyday life, and the serenity that we can attain if we only learn to persevere.