Portable Prairie: Confessions of an Unsettled Midwesterner
|Rating||:||4.75 (860 Votes)|
|Number of Pages||:||256 Pages|
"The girl who would be Tolstoy" according to Timothy J. Bazzett. I was afraid when I began this book that it was going to attempt to emulate the Russian master. In saying this, I'm probably revealing my own proletarian ignorance. I've never managed to finish Anna Karenina, although I've started it several times in my life. Maybe someday, because I want to read it, honest! Life gets in the way, just as it has for MJ Andersen. You have to make a living. She ended up at the Providence Journal for these many years. I ended up working for the Defense Department - as a Russian linguist, no less. So I know I should read Tolstoy; I've just not gotten around to it yet. I'm too fascinated by pe. J. Mackin said Finding Home. M.J. Andersen's search for home will resonate with just about anyone, whether you've moved a 100 times or lived in the same town your entire life. She is looking not just for a physical space to call her own, but an emotional one as well.Anderson's story is both amusing and touching, as she takes the reader through her childhood in South Dakota, through her years on the east coast - first at Princeton and eventually in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She understands the human need to find what is recognizable in any place - especially in a place where one's ancestors originated. She writes in an easy, thoughtful style th. An accurate and enjoyable book L. Pole I grew up in South Dakota, and really enjoyed and appreciated how this book captures the feelings of that experience: the beauty of the endless prairie meeting the boundless sky far off on the horizon, the wonder and awe of Minneapolis, and the feeling that you never quite fit in anywhere else in the world but the prairie.
Yet small-town life and, especially, the prairie prove to be fertile ground for Andersen's imagination. With her husband she eventually settles into her first house, a beautiful Victorian that, though loved, somehow does not feel like home in the way she had anticipated. Her hometown, given the fictional name of Plainville, is so quiet that one local family regularly parks by the tracks to watch the train pass through. Exploring subjects as seemingly unrelated as Roy Rogers and Tolstoy's beloved Anna Karenina, she repeatedly locates a transcendent connection with South Dakota's broad horizon.Andersen introduces us to her hardworking newspaper family, which produces one of Plainville's two competing weeklies; to Job's Daughters, a Christian association intended to prepare young women for adversity (Plainville's chapter assumes the added responsibility of throwing the town's best teen dances); and even to a local variety of hardy alfalfa, to which her best friend has a surprising kinship.Leaving behind her physical home, Andersen travels East for college, remaining to begin a journalism career. Andersen chronicles her childhood and adolescence in South Dakota, her departure to forge her own life, and her persistent longing for the landscape she left behind. Through subsequent travels, memories, and a meditation on Tolstoy's complex relationship to his ancestral home, she arrives at a
From Publishers Weekly Before even mentioning her Midwestern roots in the first chapter of this memoir, Andersen compares the events in Anna Karenina to a train-related suicide in her current Massachusetts hometown, musing on Tolstoy's love/hate relationship with his family estate, and his religious conversion, flight from home and subsequent death at a train station. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. . In vivid recollections of childhood (which could stand on their own), she recalls the security and smugness of living in a tiny farm town "too far away" for anything to happen; her parents' struggles running a smalltown newspaper; the wonder of rising in the cold of night to catch the train to Minneapolis for Christmas shopping; the Mid