Des Moines Register
[A] lyrical new memoir.
[A] humble, but no less soulful, memoir.Price easily navigates the episodes of his story, flashing back and forward, gracefully narrating the imagination of his youth.the exploration of new frontiers.and the return to familial and natural histories in western Iowa. He softly reveals the humor and uncertainty of youth and parenthood; the clarity of his nature writing exhibits the strength he finds in the ancient patterns of migratory birds and the flexibility of the Missouri River. Beyond his elegantly styled memoir, Price achieves a rich biographical portrait of the rural Midwest-its cultural and natural terrain-creating a character from the profound flatness of the region with as much life as he finds in his grandparents and children.
Taking a chronological tour of his life in Iowa, author and essayist Price (Not Just Any Land: A Personal and Literary Journey into the American Grasslands) ruminates on what he calls "kinship": the "familial embrace of nature, body, and spirit" that has kept him rooted in his home state. Price has a gentle but perceptive eye, especially when he turns it on his family. Reminisces about his rapidly deteriorating grandfather are especially compelling, and he's disarmingly honest throughout. His dry sense of humor, put to fine use in the title chapter, is sparse but stinging: "One of the great things about... the seventies in general, was that parents and children were encouraged, whenever possible, to participate in separate activities." Made up largely of previously published essays, Price's memoir lacks cohesion and his limited scope can feel self-indulgent (especially in respect to his wife, who comes across as a cipher). Still, this book has a strong agrarian sensibility and a careful method of self-examination that recalls Indiana-based essayist Scott Russell Sanders; it should resonate well with regional readers, but may also catch a groundswell of Green-related interest in urban centers.
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Price's (English, Univ. of Nebraska; Not Just Any Land) memoir, in which he writes with a reverence for place, family, friends, and neighbors, is structured in three appropriately titled sections: "Departures," "New Lands," and "Home." Early on, he states, "I've never lived anywhere else but Iowa. This has become the unexpected, defining journey of my life: to come home without ever having left." Instead of chronicling his life from birth to death, Price uses an essay format to zero in on significant periods or events. Readers will find he often experiences something akin to an epiphany with writing that is far more humorous than somber. In "High Maintenance," Price discusses his adventures as a fumbling apartment handyman who discovers various "illegal pets" while making his rounds. In "Mole Man Lives!," he captures the despair of the unpopular and awkward adolescent. His amusing tone, including his ability to freely poke fun at himself, works exceptionally well here. Recommended for large public and academic libraries.-Stacy Russo, Chapman Univ. Libs., Orange, CA
An appealing, occasionally humorous journey from isolated childhood to fulfilling adulthood, set against the ever-dwindling prairies of small-town Iowa. Price (English/Univ. of Nebraska, Omaha; Not Just Any Land: A Personal and Literary Journey Into the American Grasslands, 2004) uses a self-effacing voice to guide us through his early days as a youngster in Fort Dodge, surrounded by relatives who had emigrated there decades earlier from Sweden. Roaming alone through the woods sharpened his eye for nature's beauty, and his generous description of Iowa's woodlands, rivers and prairies, much of it now inexorably giving way to farmland and development, is a treat for the nature lover. Price is even more entertaining in his anecdotal chapters: "High Maintenance," which chronicles his hapless attempts at plumbing; "Mole Man Lives!" an account of his nerdy revenge against obnoxious high-school classmates; and "Love Mountain," which traces his awkward courtship of wife-to-be Stephanie, culminating in a honeymoon in a camp trailer. He introduces us to such memorable characters as his slowly failing grandpa Andy, whose increasing dementia surfaces in comical fantasies of Olympic gold medals and wrestling matches with grizzly bears. We also meet Price's wayward cousin Dave, who parlays an early love for dark comics and heavy-metal music into a side career as a traveling lecturer on Satanic youth cults. The author is less successful when he reaches for deep meaning and metaphor in strained, overwritten considerations of the life journeys he and his ancestors have taken in America's heartland. Nonetheless, Price knows how to find beauty in quiet moments, watching his 10-month-old son crawl throughthe grass alongside their oversized house cat, or savoring the stillness of an early-morning stroll following an overnight snowfall. A winsome, perceptive coming-of-age memoir. Agent: Joanne Wyckoff/Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency