A Place of Sense: Essays in Search of the Midwest

Iowa Humanities Board, Other Iowa Humanities Board $0 (144p) ISBN 978-0-87745-211-9
Writerly concerns dominate these eight prettily composed essays that explore the relationships of Midwesterners to Midwestern landscapes. A lecturer on fiction at Harvard, Martone ( Safety Patrol ) posits poetically if not impressionistically in ``The Flatness'' that topographical ``flatness informs the writing of the Midwest. The flatness of the landscape can serve as a foil, the writing standing out . . . in opposition to the background.'' In ``Under the Sign of Wonder Bread and Belmont Caskets,'' the story of Michael J. Rosen's decision to become a writer interrupts an otherwise adept definition of his native Columbus, Ohio, in terms of the consumerism that established it as ``an official All-American City'': it contained the nation's first supermarket and first shopping center, he says, and families like Rosen's own, for whom `` `freeze-dried,' `evaporated,' `instant,' and `condensed' became the essential catch-phrase qualities.'' Perhaps the most vivid and broadly appealing are two of the less self-conscious entries: ``The Way the Country Lies,'' Douglas Bauer's empathetic examination of the farming crisis and David Hamilton's autobiographical ``American Gothic'' (``Sometimes Grandmother forgot to put in her false teeth, and her mouth sagged like a hand puppet bowing''). Readers should look elsewhere for information about the great cities of the Midwest or its racial or ethnic minorities. Photos not seen by PW. (September)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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