In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

Overview

Poet Kim Barnes grew up in northern Idaho, in the isolated camps where her father worked as a logger and her mother made a modest but comfortable home for her husband and two children. Their lives were short on material wealth, but long on the riches of family and friendship, and the great sheltering power of the wilderness. But in the mid-1960's, as automation and a declining economy drove more and more loggers out of the wilderness and into despair, Kim's father dug in and determined to stay. It was then the ...
See more details below
Paperback
$12.52
BN.com price
(Save 16%)$15.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (39) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $8.21   
  • Used (33) from $1.99   
In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

Poet Kim Barnes grew up in northern Idaho, in the isolated camps where her father worked as a logger and her mother made a modest but comfortable home for her husband and two children. Their lives were short on material wealth, but long on the riches of family and friendship, and the great sheltering power of the wilderness. But in the mid-1960's, as automation and a declining economy drove more and more loggers out of the wilderness and into despair, Kim's father dug in and determined to stay. It was then the family turned fervently toward Pentecostalism. It was then things changed.

In the Wilderness is the poet's own account of a journey toward adulthood against an interior landscape every bit as awesome, as beautiful, and as fraught with hidden peril as the great forest itself. It is a story of how both faith and geography can shape the heart and soul, and of the uncharted territory we all must enter to face our demons. Above all, it is the clear-eyed and moving account of a young woman's coming of terms with her family, her homeland, her spirituality, and herself.

In presenting Kim Barnes the 1995 PENJerard Fund Award for a work-in-progress by an emerging female writer, the panel of judges wrote that "In the Wilderness is far more than a personal memoir," adding that it stands "almost as a cautionary example of the power of good prose to distinguish whatever it touches." Indeed, In the Wilderness is an extraordinary work, courageous, candid, and exquisitely written.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Maud Casey

This memoir has a mythic feel. Poet Kim Barnes' In the Wilderness, the story of her childhood in a family of loggers, begins with her early 20th century forefathers and mothers and traces her years in Idaho as an 11-year-old healer in the Pentecostal church, a teenage malcontent and finally a woman returned to live with her family in the forest where she was raised. If the story of her hale and hardy predecessors -- who wore floursack slips and slept seven to a bed -- sounds like standard pioneer material, it is. But Barnes transforms her family's stormy ties to the soil in a narrative filled with striking, often grotesquely comic images.

Barnes' voice is just as sharp when it comes to describing her own struggle between a sort of sexy piety (she and Brother Lang "dipped like dancers" as she was baptized) and what are actually very normal, teenage "bad girl" desires. "When my father had left for work and my mother's insistent footsteps finally fell silent, we'd pull the tacks from the poster's corners and flip it over: there, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper rode their Harley, gloriously doomed, flipping off the world in perpetuity." Barnes charms her way out of cliche, turning typical angst into something a little stranger.

The book has its flaws. Barnes didn't grow up in literary surroundings, and could have included a bit more about how she wound up becoming a writer. In the last chapter, Barnes covers this part of her life in shorthand, but I was left wanting more. In the end, her eye for exacting detail makes up for it. When someone kills two cougars for dinner, she and a boy she has a crush on watch the kettles as the "skulls bubble up, the sockets gelatinous as poached eggs at first, then hollow." Barnes's talent lies in her ability to shift quickly between bold and deliciously ugly moments (as with those skulls), and clean and quiet ones, as when young Barnes watches her mother welcome her father home from a day in the woods. She imagines her mother thinking, "Even here in the deep forests of Idaho, in the wilderness, I can give you what you desire, what you love the most." -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Barnes here recalls growing up in the '70s as a child in a born-again religious family and her struggles between her faith and her need for acceptance by her more worldly classmates. Her father was a logger in the Idaho lumber camps, and her earliest memories were of family joy in the forests. But a different kind of wilderness soon enveloped them when her father lost his job and they moved to town, where he worked as a trucker, joined the Pentecostal church and was transformed into a withdrawn, authoritarian figure whose faith required the subservience of his wife and two children. Barnes was an exemplary child until she was 12, when, jealous of the liberties her classmates enjoyed, she entered a secret life of rebellion: questioning her faith's tenets of salvation and damnation, of male authority and female submissiveness; tempted by vanity; confused by her burgeoning sexuality. Her parents discovered her plan to run away and sent her to live with friends whose kindness helped her recapture her faith and return to her family-though not without unresolved conflicts. Nonjudgmental and generous, Barnes's portrait of her parents, the fundamentalist milieu and her own spiritual questing is deeply moving. (May) FYI: This book was the recipient of the 1995 PEN/Jerard Fund Award for a work in progress by an emerging female writer.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385478212
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1997
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,398,039
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Kim Barnes is the author of the novel Finding Caruso and two memoirs, In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country—a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize—and Hungry for the World. She is coeditor with Mary Clearman Blew of Circle of Women: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Women Writers, and with Claire Davis of Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty. Her essays, stories, and poems have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, MORE magazine, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She teaches writing at the University of Idaho and lives with her husband, the poet Robert Wrigley, on Moscow Mountain.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2002

    It was okay, but i enjoyed it.

    Iloved the way they described the other family they have trouble with,and the way her sister marries the young fellow from the troublesome family as they are described. The way syhe describes her feelings.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2001

    An Engaging Story of Self-Exploration

    Kim Barnes, currently a professor at the University of Idaho, tells the story of her unique and enigmatic childhood beautifully. The poetic language brings her tale of growing up in a strict Pentacostal home to life and haunts the reader. As a former student, I was both surprised and touched by the life she once lived. Barnes is a gifted storyteller and this book is a carefully crafted work of a woman who is remarkable in many ways.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2000

    Inside Look at Fundamentalism

    In the Wilderness is a nonfiction (a true autobiography), that reads like a novel in poetic prose, enjoyable and informative. Pay close attention to the first chapter, get through the genesis parts of the next chapter or two, and then enjoy this sincere young girl's story without assuming anything. See if you can anticipate the surprise near the end, but not the end, and certainly not the most important thing in the book. I feel like I know a lot more about life than I did before I read In the Wilderness and I'm thankful I bought it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2000

    Should have won a Pulitzer--moving memoir

    Her heart torn between unquestioned obedience to parent and church and the seductive sway of the world around her, Kim Barnes gives us the background of her sensuous Idaho woods. Poverty, rigid rules, the mockery of her peers rent her spirit until she finally succombs to the temptation of the world she had never touched. The memoir is mature and the author is in touch with herself, unafraid to bare her feelings. An excellent read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)