Long-time South End resident and author Alison Barnet recently released her fifth book, titled South End Incident, a True Story.
According to a blurb provided by Barnet, “It’s the story of her coming to live at the Franklin Square House in 1964 and then East Springfield St. where her landlady and the upstairs tenants were exceptional characters—eccentric and funny. (Alison fit right in.)”
Barnet said that she has always noticed her surroundings and ever since she was a little girl, she liked to write down her findings.
“When I was nine, someone in my family gave me a locked diary,” she told the Sun, and she recalls writing about “an incident behind the house,” where a “neighbor boy” took a fake gun and “accidentally shot another neighbor boy in the eye.”
Barnet moved to the South End in 1964 when she was 18 years old.
“When you’re in the same place for a long time, you get to know people very well,” she said. Her apartment contained “two or three refrigerators,” she said, and one didn’t work, so she stashed her journals full of South End stories inside the broken one. Many of those stories made it into South End Incident,” she said.
“In the 60s, I started keeping journal entries,” she said. “I wasn’t planning to do anything with that.”
She said that though the stories in South End Incident are “written like fiction, it’s actually completely truthful.”
Barnet’s other books include Extravaganza King: Robert Barnet and Boston Musical Theater, which was published in 2004 by Northeastern University Press about her great-grandfather who was a playwright and an actor, South End Character, and Speaking Out on Neighborhood Change, which was published in 2013 about different subjects in the neighborhood that Barnet wrote columns about in the South End News.
Barnet also wrote Sitting Ducks, which was published in 2014 and is her only fiction work, but she said it is still “based on reality.” The story is about “a time in the South End where elderly women were being attacked to get their properties,” Barnet said. She said that while this was not very commonplace, it did happen around 1970.
Her fourth book is Once Upon a Neighborhood, A Timeline and Anecdotal History of the South End of Boston, published in 2019. Barnet said it took her five years to write the book, as she had to “look into everything” and conduct research about different events.
She said that so far, South End Incident is doing well, and she has sold 35 copies. She has placed another order of books.
“South End Incident is not simply South End—it’s about me in the 60s,” Barnet said. “Most of the stories in the book are funny.”
Barnet is also working on a sixth book, which she is calling Shopping Carts on Brick Sidewalks. The book will be “based in reality about real people,” she said.
South End Incident is available now for $25.