Anne Whitney Pierce is a life-long Cantabrigian and the author of two books, “Galaxy Girls: Wonder Women” (1993) and “Rain Line.” (2000) She has taught in the graduate writing program at Emerson College in Boston. Her short fiction has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Chattahoochee Review, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kansas Quarterly, Crosscurrents, The Southern Review, among others. Her work has been included in the O’Henry Prize Story Collection and has won several awards, including the Nelson Algren Award, the Willa Cather Fiction Prize, the Paterson Fiction Prize, New Voices Award and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. Her new book “Down to the River” is a family saga set in the late 1960s in Cambridge, Massachusetts against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. (amazon, 2022)
“Down to the River” – Whitney Pierce has set this novel in a time similarly turbulent to our own. It tells the story of how the Potts family, bred from privilege, falls to their knees amongst the revelries, riots, and raging uncertainty of the 60s. It is a family that hides deep secrets, as dark and murky as the Charles River which divides Cambridge and Boston. The town of Cambridge is a city so storied and distinct it becomes a living, breathing character.
Twin brothers, Nash and Remi Potts, have grown up as entitled, Harvard-educated, golden boys, heirs to an old, but dwindling family fortune. With the passage of time, the gold veneer of prosperity begins to chip away, and their lives begin to falter. It is 1968, and they are in their mid-forties and partners in a sporting goods store in Harvard Square. The twins’ marriages are in trouble. Their youngest children, Chickie and Hen, are coming of age during the turbulent urban wilderness of the late 1960s— school bomb threats, racial tensions, war protests and demonstrations at Harvard and beyond. With all hell breaking loose at home, and any semblance of “parenting” hanging ragged in the wind, the two cousins are left largely to their own devices. Suddenly freed from old rules and restrictions, they head out onto the streets of Cambridge, which become their concrete playground, tumbling headlong into a world of politics, sex, drugs, rock and roll.