Surprise Encounters

Town Topics – Scott McVay’s “Surprise Encounters” Highlights Explorers, Artists, Scientists

Best Events – Princeton, Scott McVay – Surprise Encounters with Artists and Scientists, Whales and Other Living Things

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Wild River Books Launches Surprise Encounters—New Memoir by Scott McVay—on October 14, 2015 at Labyrinth Bookstore in Princeton, NJ

“From his eye-opening encounters with bottlenose dolphins, to his founding of the acclaimed Dodge Poetry Festival, to his broad and deep philanthropic influence, McVay’s stories stir the imagination and challenge us to explore possibilities with relentless curiosity.”
—Elizabeth Christopherson, President & CEO, Rita Allen Foundation

PRINCETON, New Jersey: September 10, 2015—In partnership with U.S.1 newspaper’s new literary supplement, Genesis, Wild River Books invites the public to celebrate the launch of Surprise Encounters With Artists and Scientists, Whales and Other Living Things by Scott McVay, named “the Money Man for Inspirations” by the New York Times. The event will take place at Labyrinth Books on Wednesday, October 14, at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be provided by Hopewell Valley Community Bank.

Surprise Encounters engages readers in McVay’s inspiring and provocative encounters with explorers —whether artists or scientists—who have opened new ways of seeing the world and our place in it. In addition, McVay, a Founding Executive Director of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, also shows the challenge of placing funds—a sacred charge—in education, the arts, conservation, and the welfare of animals.

Urged by friends and colleagues to set down his recollections, McVay wrote Surprise Encounters, a chronology of more than 150 vignettes written in the spirit of Boccaccio’s Decameron including titles such as “Even if You Change Your Clothes, the Killer Whale Will Remember You,” “If Knowledge of the Universe Were a Ladder of One Hundred Rungs,” “That Which Is Alive I Praise,” “Don’t Worry About Snakes,” and “Twelve Words that Altered Destiny.” Readers sit in on riveting conversations, light-bulb moments, breakthroughs, and lighthearted but hard-hitting yarns about McVay’s decades as an ambassador of goodwill.

A champion of the arts and conservation, particularly in his home state of New Jersey, McVay cites the stubborn challenges and joys of working in philanthropy. From his leadership of the Chautauqua Institution, which offers 2,100 events every summer, to his and his wife Hella’s creation of the Poetry Trail in Greenway Meadows in Princeton, McVay’s life has been filled with the seemingly disparate yet surprisingly interconnected worlds of science, politics, the humanities, and the arts.

A graduate of Princeton University in English literature, McVay has served on two dozen boards. His honors include receipt of the Albert Schweitzer Award from the Animal Welfare Institute, the Princeton University Class of 1955 Award, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Award by the White House Commission of Presidential Scholars, and an honorary doctorate from Middlebury College.

“Entering into Scott McVay’s memories, and life, is a bit like entering one of those collections that used to be called a Cabinet of Curiosities, in which art married science, beauty married oddity, and factual married fantastic––except that everything in these pages’ stories, photographs, and poems is grounded in the real.”
—Jane Hirshfield, Author of Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World

About Labyrinth Books: Labyrinth Books is an independent, locally owned community and scholarly bookstore. The store carries titles in a broad range of subject areas including literature, the arts, all fields of study in the humanities, the social and natural sciences, as much as cookbooks or kids’ books. Labyrinth provides all books for Princeton University classes. In addition to new releases, Labyrinth is known for its wide selection of discounted remainder titles as well as for its selection of antiquarian and used books. Its mission to be a place fostering the exchange of ideas is supported with a full program of author events. (

About Genesis: Genesis, a quarterly print publication, aims to illuminate and celebrate the creative community —from New Brunswick to New Hope, Princeton to Trenton—in a wide variety of fields and interests. Launched under the aegis of U.S. 1 newspaper, Genesis welcomes queries from people in the central New Jersey and Bucks County regions. (

About Hopewell Valley Community Bank: Hopewell Valley Community Bank is a locally owned and managed full-service, FDIC–insured commercial bank. HVCBank is celebrating 15-plus years of providing Familiar Faces Friendly Banking for local residents and small business owners. HVCBank is committed to building a reputation for excellence, being a responsible neighbor in the communities they serve, and delivering products and services with care and professionalism that exceeds expectations. Live local … Buy local … Bank Local with HVCBank. (

About Wild River Books: With over thirty years of publishing, editing, design, and marketing experience, Wild River Books—a full-service publishing house—upholds the top standards of the industry and offers strategic publishing solutions for the 21st century. Through editorial consultation, marketing, publicity expertise, and crafted packaging, Wild River Books helps authors tell and promote stories that make a difference in the world. Through Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC, Wild River Books also runs the international online literary and arts magazine Wild River Review (, which has loyal readers from every corner of the world.