Brace yourself: a quick chat with local author and Nantucket Walkabout guide Peter Brace.
N MAGAZINE: Describe what you love most about Nantucket in the form of a Tweet.
BRACE: Zero dress code. My tight, extended island family. Fog. Skinny-dipping spot abundance. Environmentally-conscious community. #Breweryoffseason
N MAGAZINE: What do most people not know about you?
BRACE: I’m partially dyslexic.
N MAGAZINE: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered during one of your nature walks?
BRACE: The staggering number of Frisbees people seem to be too lazy to retrieve from the dunes along the south shore when the southwest summer wind blows them into the bushes.
N MAGAZINE: What book changed your life?
BRACE: Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style.
N MAGAZINE: If you could change one thing about Nantucket what would it be?
BRACE: A greater variety of Asian restaurants/take-out offerings.
N MAGAZINE: If we put you in charge of creating a time capsule so that people could understand Nantucket when it’s underwater, what would you put in it?
BRACE: The physical vitals of the island: amount of land developed, undeveloped and held in open space protection, the square mile- age and acreage of the island, our local rate of sea level rise, a listing of the numbers of species of life and the species themselves. The text of the tiny house article in this year’s annual Town Meeting warrant and the successful vote data. And a Turkey Terrific sandwich with a bottle of Triple Eight’s award-winning 12-year-old Notch.
N MAGAZINE: If you could climb into the mind of any person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
BRACE: John McPhee, one of my favorite writers. He was a staff writer at The New Yorker for years and years and is still a professor at Princeton. He’s written a lot of books and articles about the natural world and his descriptions in them are genius. His writing just flows!
N MAGAZINE: What was the golden era of Nantucket in your opinion?
BRACE: There were three, actually. When the newspapers the Nantucket Beacon (1989-1998) and the Nantucket Independent (2003-2010) were in print, and the century right after Nantucket became an island because of sea level rise, about 6,000 years ago. It’d be so fascinating to witness Nantucket separating from the continent as the Late Archaic Indians did, to see it unplundered with all of its forests and ecosystems intact and with no impacts from the European settlers.
N MAGAZINE: What are your thoughts about the Nantucket Book Festival?
BRACE: I love what the festival has become and the talented authors we’ve been able to attract for readers to interact with. As exclusive as Nantucket is, our book festival has maintained its intimacy without losing its class and extraordinarily diverse authors. That being said, I can’t respond to this question without saying the festival must shine a brighter light on Nantucket authors, famous or not. Instead of just having them under the tent at the Atheneum hawking their books, they should also be giving the talks in the bars and in other venues around the island. Readers and would-be authors can learn a lot from first-time authors.
For more information on Peter Brace’s guided wilderness hikes, visit WalkNantucket.com.