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“I’ve written everywhere about Vermont, but not the Vineyard, because this was my parents’ home and it was their territory.
But his passion for the written word stemmed from more than just a love of the outdoors.
From the age of six he was afflicted by a debilitating stutter, a condition that remains with him to some extent to this day.
Gazing through the window at quaint North Summer Street, he added, “It’s not wild here.” Which is not to say he doesn’t enjoy his down-Island address.
“I’m a block from the movie house,” he was careful to point out. I go to the Anchors [senior center] four times a week.
“I stuttered enormously badly, it’s hard to conceive,” he explained. That’s the way it is with stutterers: they don’t stutter at two.
The way I remember it – although it’s probably not accurate – is that I was sent off to a summer camp and there was another boy there who did stutter and I made fun of him.Above all, though, Hoagland is a gifted storyteller.Over the course of many conversations, on the phone and in person, we discussed topics ranging from the West Village to West Africa, cattle trains to transvestite prostitutes.And when I hear about something at the Federated Church, I go there.All of those are just easy walking distance from my house.” His ambivalence toward the Vineyard probably explains why it is that though he writes well on the Island, he rarely writes of the Island.Born in 1932 in New York City, he moved with his family to New Canaan, Connecticut, after his father, a former Wall Street lawyer, switched jobs. “When you’re a small child it doesn’t have to be the wilderness,” he said.“I think we had a couple of acres, but adjoining was a forty acre estate.When not traveling to Boston or New York City, he lives most of the year hunkered down in Edgartown where he writes every day on one of two typewriters always at the ready in his office.(One was queued up, atop the washing machine, when we met.) He’s more than 58,000 words into his “Vermont novel,” which is based on time he’s spent in the state’s Northeast Kingdom, where he bought a hundred acres for ten thousand dollars in 1969 and where he spends the warmer months.I was required to take golf and tennis lessons when I was young, until I was old enough to refuse them.” For someone who has traveled extensively and written widely about some of the more far-flung corners of the world, a leafy corner of Edgartown may indeed seem an unlikely permanent residence. “I was just talking to my eye doctor yesterday about the handicap of my vision,” he recalled.(In his fifties, Hoagland developed cataracts and a retinal condition that left him nearly blind.