Thursday, December 10, 2020

New Book Set in Hudson

Twelve years ago, Stephen Bergman, writing under the name Samuel Shem, published a book called The Spirit of the Place. Bergman, a native Hudsonian, left Hudson in 1962 to go to Harvard and never made his home in Hudson again. In Bergman's book The Spirit of the Place, the protagonist, Orville Rose, is an expatriate doctor called back to his hometown of Columbia, a thinly fictionalized Hudson, after the death of his mother. Now, there's another novel written by a Hudson native son who has lived his adult life elsewhere: The Blade Between, by Sam J. Miller. As in The Spirit of the Place, the protagonist of the book returns to Hudson decades after leaving with no intention of returning.  

Miller is the son of a local butcher. The bio on his website begins:
I live in New York City now, but I grew up in a middle-of-nowhere town in upstate New York. My father was a butcher, and his father was a butcher, and I was trained as a butcher, but our butcher shop went down the toilet when I was 17 and our town was eaten alive by Wal-Mart. Since then I've been a vegetarian. . . .
Miller includes this picture of his grandfather standing in the doorway to his shop on Warren Street. 

Miller's father's market, Sam's Supermarket, was located at 310 Warren Street, where the gym for The Maker now is.

In The Blade Between, Miller's most recent book, the protagonist, Ronan Szepessy, a famous photographer and influencer, returns to his hometown, Hudson, New York. The book was reviewed by Gabino Iglesias on NPR this past Sunday: "'The Blade Between' Walks the Boundary of Horror and Noir." Here's how the review starts out:
There are violent ghosts, flying whales, and dead people with mouthfuls of saltwater hundreds of miles from the ocean in Sam J. Miller's The Blade Between, but it all makes sense. It all makes sense because the story takes place in Hudson, New York, a place built on the remains of slaughtered whales, where their unused parts were buried underground and the scraps were fed to animals later used to feed people. Hudson is full of angry spirits, but now a different monster is destroying it: gentrification.
Iglesias goes on to describe the novel in this way:
The Blade Between is more than a dystopian sci-fi thriller with a dash of poetry; it's an explosive narrative about a small town caught between the decaying ghosts of the past, the shattered dreams and mediocre lives of its residents, and the monster of gentrification that threatens to erase it all under shiny new buildings and fancy coffee shops.
Although the Hudson that emerges from this review doesn't sound much like the city where I have lived for close to thirty years now, I am eager to get my hands on a copy of this book.


  1. When I first came to Hudson I used to shop at Sam's Supermarket, and especially buy meat there. And a very fine butcher he was too. When Sam's Supermarket closed, it was much missed locally.

  2. I was a longtime friend with Sam's father, Hyman, all through school and both graduated in the HHS Class of 1970 and continued our friendship until his untimely death.

  3. Thank you for mentioning the book, Carole - I am a long-time reader of your blog, as my father was, and since it was a crucial research aid it's mentioned in the acknowledgements section of the book.

  4. Sam's Food Market was owned by Sam Lipschutz. It was located on first street. Sam's Supermarket was located at the present Makers gymnasium. Sam Miller was the owner and butcher of Sam's Supermarket.

  5. When I came to Hudson in the mid-60s, Sam's Supermarket was where you went for fresh-cut meat. It was located at the corner of 4th and Warren, where FACE is now. The side door on 4th Street was where the deliveries were made. The cashiers were facing Warren Street and there was sawdust on the floor! And if you needed the service, groceries were delivered. Sam and Rose Miller and their extended family were the best.

  6. Steve Bergman, AKA "Sam Shem" was a 1962 graduate of Hudson High School. His father, Dr. Sigmund Bergman was a long time Hudson dentist with an office above the current La Mision Restaurant at the corner of 7 th and Warren. I am haunted to this day with memories of walking up the dark stair case and down the hallway, each step bringing up a creak from the old wooden floors below your feet, terrifying for a young boy or girl !!!! He retired in the early/mid 1970's when his practice was taken over by Dr. Danz and Dr. Stoller. Dr. Danz of course remains on McKinstry Place.