Without a Farmhouse Near

Deborah Rawson, Author Ballantine Books $5.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-345-35387-0
``How much growth is too much growth?'' is the pervasive question that resonates here. Just about all commercial growth, according to the northern Vermont farmers and hearty villagers featured (and romanticized) in this account of a region undergoing change in spite of itself. In chatty prose, Rawson, a Life magazine reporter from a family of Vermont farmers, captures the impact of the annual loss of 22,000 acres of farmland and encroachment by IBM and ski resorts. Small-town denizens unite to prevent the construction of a large shopping mall. A widow rejects bids from developers while others must sell or face bankruptcy. The dwindling ranks of farmers struggle to ``reconcile the ever-growing disparity between low milk prices and rising taxes, between hard work and ever more elusive rewards.'' Rawson's contrasts of urban pseudo-chic and authentic rural vigor are effective; nevertheless, her consideration of economic, demographic and political issues falls short. Although Rawson questions the implications of aiming to preserve a small town's ``rural character,'' she, too, restricts herself to an oversimplified agenda. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
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