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As Cowser leads us through his formative experiences in Martin and later New Orleans and Lincoln, Nebraska, he offers a balanced and inviting combination of episodes—of the regret inherent in his father's longrunning quest for a good BBQ sandwich and of too loosely interpreting Redbook's advice on attending high school reunions, of the abduction and murder of a classmate and of the revelation of a favorite uncle's AIDS-related death. Siblings, parents, schoolmates, and mentors form a richly realized constellation of figures around Cowser as he recalls the loves, losses, developments, and divergences that constitute coming of age in the rural American heartland of the late twentieth century.
The geographic location of home shifts, but Cowser's ties to family, community, and upbringing remain constants in the face of growth and change. The resulting essays map the rough-hewn formation of an adult identity and the development of the accepting hindsight required to reflect and keep score.