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Leaning into the Wind: A Memoir of Midwest Weather

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Leaning into the Wind is a series of ten intimate essays in which Susan Allen Toth, who was spent most of her life in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, reveals the ways in which weather has challenged and changed her perceptions about herself and the world around her. She describes her ever-growing awareness of and appreciation for how the weather marks the major milestones of her life. Toth explores issues as large as weather and spirituality in "Who Speaks in the Pillar of Cloud?" and topics as small as mosquito ...
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Overview

Leaning into the Wind is a series of ten intimate essays in which Susan Allen Toth, who was spent most of her life in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, reveals the ways in which weather has challenged and changed her perceptions about herself and the world around her. She describes her ever-growing awareness of and appreciation for how the weather marks the major milestones of her life. Toth explores issues as large as weather and spirituality in "Who Speaks in the Pillar of Cloud?" and topics as small as mosquito in "Things That Go Buzz in the Night." In "Storms," a severe thunderstorm becomes a continuing metaphor for the author's troubles first marriage. Two essays, one from late middle age, ponder how the weather seems different at various stages of life but always provides unexpected opportunities for self-discovery, change, and renewal.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In today's turbulent world, there's certainly something to be said for Toth's almost fervent passion for the most universal of good old American topics: the weather. In this compilation of personal essays, she takes our favorite "stuff" to fill awkward silences or interchanges by the office water cooler and makes it feel meaningful, even deep. At its best, this deepening of an American obsession is intriguing. At its worst, Toth's inexhaustible attempt to use weather as a metaphor for the turmoil in her own life is like two weeks of record heat in July. At first you are amused, put on your bathing suit, maybe even get a tan. By day six, however, you are far less amused by the same sun glaring down on you every time you try to step outside to run an errand. One hundred twenty-four pages of Toth's parallels between her own reactions to various weather conditions and greater truths about her personality and those of her loved ones is, ultimately, boring. Toth's intentions are good; she identifies her passions (previously she published a trilogy on England) and then uses them as the framework to tell her own stories. Her prose is well crafted and meticulously edited, but no amount of refinement can change the bottom line: this memoir is best left for a rainy day. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Toth, a retired English professor and author of several well-regarded travel books and memoirs, writes how the vagaries of weather reflect her own ups and downs in this memoir of life in the Midwest. Born in Iowa and settling in Minnesota after periods in both the East and the West, Toth asserts that the Midwest harbors the most extreme and varied weather of any place in the United States-temperatures of 100-plus degrees to well below zero, blizzards, drought, floods, and tornadoes. Personally, Toth enjoys the variety and promise that each season offers. Like other Midwesterners, she hopes for the best but expects the worst, an attitude reminiscent of the gentle fatalism expressed by residents of Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegone. Storms seemed to define her precarious first marriage, and sharp winter weather helped hone her parenting skills. Most of the essays are lighthearted and include humorous musings on basements, weather words, and gardening. But she also ponders a higher order in life that she sees through the marvels of Midwestern weather. Recommended for public libraries and for all regional collections.-Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ. Lib., Sault Ste. Marie, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816642625
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

A Note of Other Midwesterners
Leaning into the Wind 1
The Weather Was Full of Promise 12
Other Weather, Other Places 24
Storms 39
Down in the Basement 55
A Window on the Weather 61
Weather Words 75
Things That Go Buzz in the Night 85
A Cold-Blooded Woman 93
Garden Weather 97
The Weather Doesn't Grow Old 111
Who Speaks in the Pillar of Cloud? 116
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2004

    'Leaning' towards a masterpiece

    This book is a real breath of fresh air (pun intended). With beautifully written prose, Toth transported me into the harrowing weather of Minnesota with her personal anecdotes. This book isn't about weather so much as snippets of one woman's life, highlighted and affected by weather events. It was as if lightening were striking and illuminating pieces of her life with each crackle. I found this an ingenious way to write a kind of memoir, by letting weather moments select out different stages of her life. Toth strikes me as a wise woman, who has had a full life, yet she never talks down to me in her book. Instead she writes about pleasures and struggles in her life with humility and much humor. There is nothing show-offy about this book, I really felt as though she was talking to me in her living room, reminding me of my own experiences of weather and where I had been in my life at those times. This is a reflective, funny, personal, and beautiful little book. It should not be missed.

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