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The Free Farm: A Novel
     

The Free Farm: A Novel

by Larry Smith
 

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Fiction. In this sequel to THE LONG RIVER HOME, the characters move on into the turbulence and idealism of the late 1960s and early 1970s on an Appalachian farm commune.

"Forbidden love. Counter-culture. The shadow of Vietnam. Sexual revolution. Social unrest. Marijuana and LSD. In this intriguing coming-of-age novel by Larry Smith, THE FREE FARM, we journey

Overview


Fiction. In this sequel to THE LONG RIVER HOME, the characters move on into the turbulence and idealism of the late 1960s and early 1970s on an Appalachian farm commune.

"Forbidden love. Counter-culture. The shadow of Vietnam. Sexual revolution. Social unrest. Marijuana and LSD. In this intriguing coming-of-age novel by Larry Smith, THE FREE FARM, we journey back to America's turbulent late 60s and early 70s.... Smith provides a unique window into Lee's young life that is driven by idealism, love of Emerson and Thoreau, and devotion to his beautiful partner, who practices Zen, meditates, and can fix cars.... In this realistic yet often surprising and tender novel, a quoted line from 'The Waking' by Theodore Roethke serves as a guidepost: 'I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow / I feel my fate in what I cannot fear / I learn by going where I have to go.'"
—Laura Treacy Bentley, author of LAKE EFFECT

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Forbidden love. Counter-culture. The shadow of Vietnam. Sexual revolution. Social unrest. Marijuana and LSD. In Larry Smith’s intriguing coming-of-age novel, The Free Farm, we journey back to America’s turbulent late 60s and early 70s. Lee McCall leaves his Ohio Valley steel mill town to attend Ohio University, but the going isn’t easy as he takes classes, works to support himself, and tries to form a utopia--a free living commune or "an adventure in group living" in an Appalachian farmhouse. Smith provides a unique window into Lee’s life that is driven by idealism, love of Emerson and Thoreau, and devotion to his beautiful partner, Sharon, who practices Zen, meditates, and can fix cars. Between college life and work, the troubles of his family back home, and the challenges of his new communal family, Lee evolves from a boy who left "a golden time when the world seemed safe and right" to a man with a global vision who needs to stand for something, embrace his destiny, and know where his real home lies. In this realistic yet often surprising and tender novel, a quoted line from "The Waking" by Theodore Roethke may serve as our guidepost: "I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow/I feel my fate in what I cannot fear/I learn by going where I have to go."

~ Laura Treacy Bentley, author of Lake Effect

"Larry Smith's THE FREE FARM is both a novel and a romance about the hard truth of family and the ways we discover the nature of who we are by whom and what we love. Written in a strong, sensitive but never sentimentalizing voice, Smith has penned a kind of spiritual being-of-age novel, while still providing a clear-eyed look at a turbulent, fascinating era of the American experience."

- Charles Dodd White, author of Lambs of Men and Sinners of Sanction County

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933964508
Publisher:
Bottom Dog Press
Publication date:
10/08/2011
Pages:
306
Sales rank:
985,388
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt


From Chapter One

Saturday comes, and I am wearing a white shirt and thin black tie, like I am going to a hip church or something. I show up at her house early at 6:45. We are to walk the couple blocks to the dance. It is raining lightly, so I carry an umbrella with me…Mom's idea. She's come around some. This is all new to me, but I drink up the specialness of it and feel it in my gut. Sharon's old man isn't home, and so her little brother opens the door. Inside are her sisters sitting on the couch and the old lounge chair. A general giggle goes about the room as I wait, and finally Sharon comes down the stairs in a blue flowered dress that just about breaks my heart.

Her mom comes out of the kitchen wearing an apron, and with a cup of coffee in her hand. "Now you two have a good time," she says, blessing us amidst the stares. "And be nice…okay, Lee?" She knows my name; they've been discussing me.

Outside, alone in the misty rain, I no longer hear the mill roar, just the touch of her voice, "Oh, watch your step, Lee," as we go down the broken walkway. At the sidewalk, I open the umbrella over her and she holds my arm as we stroll towards the church, like a scene right out of a movie. From time to time I can feel her soft breast against my arm.

I glide on air that night, even as we box step around the posts in that room. Mrs. Smith has decorated the place with some rainbow crape paper, and at one point actually dims the lights a little. My brother Dave is playing DJ for the night, spinning 45s from home. And when he plays "This I Swear" and I hold Sharon closer, I realize I have never felt any girl's lower back before. I start to sweat a little, but she is light on her feet yet real and smooth, not like the bouncy girls from gym class, or the ones with heavy legs. Later we bop and even bunny hop, and do the hokey pokey and laugh. We talk about little things--other kids and school. She loves Mrs. Z's class too, and we both recite the poems we've written. I get her punch and look back to drink her in.

I could live on this planet with her a thousand years, but at 9 o'clock, Dave announces, "This is the last dance," and we hold each other close, her head on my shoulder…the sweet smell of her soft hair, her body swaying slowly with mine. I close my eyes. I want to be 21 and propose, then take her out of that house to our place in the country near a woods.

We walk home in silence. The rain has stopped. Outside her house I hold her hand a speechless moment, then say, "Thanks, Sharon," and she, "I had a great time, Lee." I float home and go right upstairs to crawl under the cover to dream of her.

Meet the Author


Larry Smith is a native of Mingo Junction, Ohio, in Appalachia's Panhandle region of the Ohio River Valley. A graduate of Mingo Central High School, Muskingum College, and Kent State University, he has authored seven books of poetry, a book of memoirs, three books of fiction, two biographies of authors Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Patchen, and two books of translations from the Chinese. Now a professor emeritus of Bowling Green State University's Firelands College, he is the director of The Firelands Writing Center there and of Bottom Dog Press. Smith has received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council, and a Fulbright Lectureship in American Literature to Italy. He and his wife Ann are the parents of three adult children, and live along the shores of Lake Erie in Huron, Ohio.

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