Wednesday, November 19, 2008


On Sunday Mr. McGregor's Daughter did a book meme, and I thought it would be fun to play on this cold November morning. I'm scheduled to work at the greenhouse, but just got a call that instead of starting at 10:00, I can come in at 1:00. Happy Days! It's cold and windy out there this morning and I'm more than happy to do my part helping keep payroll dollars to a minimum!

On to the meme. Here are the Rules: Grab the closest book at hand (no fair going out of your way to get something intellectual, just what’s within arm’s reach of your keyboard). Turn to page 56, go to the fifth sentence and post the results - include the sentences that follow to provide some sort of context. I'll skip the part about tagging other bloggers. (I don't like rules much.) And I'll break another rule, since I didn't think page 56 would provide enough of the flavor of the only book that was within arm's reach, which happens to be the book I'm currently reading. Instead I've picked the 5th sentence from page 256:

Because it was late afternoon - chore and milking time - they were restive; but because they weren't working and their stomachs were full, in a warm room, they should be sleeping, and they blinked, yawned, and grimaced to keep their eyes open.

The farm women, nearly starved for anything resembling higher culture, demanded more from the occasion than it could possibly yield. With eyes as white as freshly peeled hard-boiled eggs they inspected the jewelry, hair, and clothes of the other women, tasted each morsel of food disapprovingly, strained to hear conversations from neighboring tables, worried about wrinkles in their faces, and frowned at their husbands to sit up straighter in their chairs. . .

Ah, to be included at the table of people whose backs did not ache and feet were not swollen, whose nurtured capacity for merriment so exceeded all unpleasantness that the bass notes of living could be blithely ignored. This was the real human technology that from time immemorial had driven small farmers off their land and muted the howl of those caught in the gears. In the scramble to secure a place at the banquet - at least for their children - the cries of those run over by the Engine of Progress could scarcely be heard.

While visiting M&M who live in the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin, we attended an open house at the small potato farm of friends of theirs. One of the other guests I met was David Rhodes' wife.

David was recently interviewed on NPR's "On Point." You can listen to the interview here. I've quoted the written introduction to the interview below. It's a succinct biography and history of his latest work.

Writer David Rhodes published three novels still in his twenties, was hailed as one of the best of his generation, was paralyzed in a flash, in a motorcycle accident, and dropped off the map for thirty years — living simply, quietly, almost invisibly in the rolling countryside of rural Wisconsin.

Three years ago, a young fan tracked him down. Discovered he was still writing. And brought him back.

His extraordinary new novel, Driftless, takes us deep into the lives and hollows of the world he has quietly observed, off the map, for decades.

I was intrigued upon hearing about David and his new book at the open house. Then Mom sent me a link to the interview. Having frequently visited the Driftless Region, I was naturally very interested in the book and even more interested after listening to the NPR interview.

I thought it would be an excellent read this winter, so I ordered the book from Amazon and have not been disappointed. I'm still in the middle of it, and am looking forward to reading Rock Island Line, David's last novel which I also got from Amazon, next.


  1. Linda,

    What a fascinating look into the culture of the Driftless area..I am thinking about the passage I just read and layering it with the photos of the car/truck/farm equipment graveyard you showed us a few posts back! It must be a very good read!


  2. Hi Gail, it's really an interesting area, with a surprisingly eclectic and diverse culture. I've met so many fascinating people there in the years I've been visiting, and have learned so much from them.

    I thought that passage was a perfect juxtaposition with the graveyard. Good catch!

    So far it's a wonderful read - insightful, introspective, colorful, quirky, compassionate,original, imaginative, intimate, and moving. Hearing the NPR interview has enriched my experience of the book. M&M have some very cool friends!

  3. It sounds like a very good book from the part you quoted. I might have to check it out.

  4. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Sounds like a good read, thanks for sharing! I love to read but haven't had a chance to lately, guess I will catch up this winter! :)

  5. Thanks for the shout out! How cool that you met the author's wife & are familiar with the region where the story is set.

  6. Hi Tina, I think you'd enjoy it.

    Hi Racquel, I haven't done much reading lately either. With my seasonal work though, I have been catching up during the winter the last couple of years.

    Hi MMD, thanks for the excuse to talk up the book! Being familiar with the area definitely makes the story and its well-developed characters come alive.

  7. I got to get it! What a grand story. I can't believe he just dropped out of society after being so successful. He would be proud of you and the way you wrote the review.

  8. I'm impressed with Gail's memory of your equipment graveyard post...she's right, this book goes together with it so well. Sounds like a great book; I have to admit the cover of a book sometimes draws me in, and I love the photo on this cover. How exciting to have a connection to the author, too!

  9. I'm supposed to do the bookworm post too. Anyway I was at Hoe and Shovel and read your comment, do you root your hydrangea in water or soil? Thanks

  10. That’s an interesting thing to do. I picked up my nearest book and it happens to be a butterfly book! Page 56 highlights the Purplish Copper...

  11. Hi Anna, I think you'd love it! The characters and the places are so true-to-life I have to remind myself it's a novel.

    Hi Rose, I saw the connection right away and was impressed Gail picked up on that!

    I like the cover photo too. So many of the roads in that area look just like that. There are also alot of very heavily wooded areas in addition to the rolling farm land depicted on the cover.

    Maybe one day I'll get to meet Mr. Rhodes when I'm up there visiting Mom. That would be very cool! I enjoyed meeting his wife Edna - a very nice lady.

    Hi Darla, I rooted the hydrangea cuttings in soil. I used rooting hormone, but it might not have been necessary as they root very easily. I rooted tip cuttings with about 5 leaf nodes in 4 1/2" nursery pots. First I removed the leaves from the bottom two nodes, cut the larger leaves in half, made a fresh, diagonal cut on the bottom of the cutting, wet the cutting, dipped it in rooting hormone, planted it with the stripped nodes below soil level, then watered well, then sealed a ziplock bag over the top of the pot to keep the leaves from getting dehydrated before the roots formed. Some of the cuttings already had roots in a week, others took two weeks. I've got a lot of them, and haven't lost one yet. Hydrangeas are one of the easiest shrubs to root from cuttings.

    Hi Skeeter, a butterfly book - very cool! I should get one so I can more easily identify some of the butterflies and moths that hang around here in the summer.

  12. Hi Linda, this a a spellbinding story, I can tell just from that little bit. Thanks for sharing it and telling your personal interest in it. Skeeter motivated me to look around and I see the Petersen Field Guide to Eastern Birds, page 56 is sea birds, third one down is the King Eider.


  13. Hi Frances, spellbinding is a good word for it. It's hard to put down!

    That's a good book to have handy! During migrations in the spring and fall, there always seem to be some unknown winged visitors in the garden.

  14. Very interesting.
    I don't have any problems reading english, but my writing...,hehe

  15. Just wanted to jump over here and wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving... I will be back next week....


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