Weeds in Bloom: Autobiography of an Ordinary Man

Robert Newton Peck, Author . Random $15.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-375-82801-0

A respect for humanity shines through Peck's (A Day No Pigs Would Die ) unique autobiography, related in a colloquial, conversational style. Rather than presenting a chronicle of his life in a conventional fashion, the author instead pens a series of character sketches—the people who have helped to shape him ("For you, I harvest wild herbs of humanity.... Weeds in bloom," he writes in the prologue). Peck fondly recalls the stoic, hard-working folks who molded his values when he was growing up poor in rural Vermont—family members (including his 110-year-old ["some claimed older"] Aunt Ida, who reputedly killed a "drunken half-crazed Saint Francis Indian.... At the time, she was only nine. Others said eight") and other members of his boyhood community. There's Early Pardee the horse shoer, who begins his workday before dawn, and teacher Miss Kelly, who believes in "Scholarship, Manners, and Soap." Peck also pays tribute to mentors who encouraged him to spread his wings, and crystallizes the essence of various misfits he meets later in life, in Florida. His chance encounters with an aging quilter, a sugar-cane cutter and a girl who lives in the swamp reveal the author's keen power of observation as well as his sensitivity. Downplaying his own accomplishments and personal details (experiences with marriage, parenthood and book writing get only brief mentions), Peck invites readers to look through his eyes and share his admiration for the extraordinary human beings who have crossed his path. Ages 12-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Mass Market Paperbound - 209 pages - 978-0-375-82802-7
Open Ebook - 110 pages - 978-0-307-54911-2
Hardcover - 209 pages - 978-0-375-92801-7
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