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Nineteen of America's finest writers shape a "home" of essays, each contributing a different "room" to a collection that gives readers a spirited and eclectic look at the ideals and realities of family, childhood, memory, and the simple notion of shelter. Contributors include Bailey White, Jane Smiley, Donald Katz, Lynda Barry, and Mona Simpson. Half of the editors' proceeds will be donated to organizations that assist the homeless.
Not all of the essays deal with the authors' childhoods, though most do. Colin and Kathryn Harrison, husband and wife (both are novelists), contribute a set of nicely matching essays, he on their bedroom and the manner in which their small children have made the room their own, she on the children's room nearby. The novelist Susan Power contributes a moving piece about the extraordinary things brought to light when she and her mother explored her grandmother's attic, discovering letters and journals a century old, releasing "a legion of ghosts, a chain of lives." Mona Simpson recreates the kitchen in her grandmother's house (in further testament to our unsettled times, many of the middle-aged writers in the collection spent at least part of their childhood living with grandparents). Jane Smiley meditates on the qualities that go to make a comfortable bathroom. The novelist Clint McCown writes about the events played out around the front door of the family home, and makes an essential point about all of these pieces: a particular setting gives us a frame to set our family in, a way "to call them all together at a place in time."
One of the pleasures of an anthology is the way in which the voices play off against one another. One of the drawbacks is the inevitable unevenness of any collection. Both points apply to Home, but even given the cryptic or fragmentary nature of some of the essays, the book is often enough sad or haunting or funny or startling to repay a reading. --Patheon
|Introduction: From the Sixth Stair|
|The Living Room||48|
|The Dining Room||58|
|The Master Bedroom||91|
|The Children's Room||130|
|The Boys' Room||144|
|The Teenage Bedroom (Except It's About a Boy's Room)||153|
|The Attic: A Family Museum||158|
|The Workroom, or, There Are Other Tools Besides the Hammer||172|
|The Storm Door||198|
|About the Contributors||229|