Taking a chronological tour of his life in Iowa, author and essayist Price (Not Just Any Land: A Personal and Literary Journey into the American Grasslands) ruminates on what he calls "kinship": the "familial embrace of nature, body, and spirit" that has kept him rooted in his home state. Price has a gentle but perceptive eye, especially when he turns it on his family. Reminisces about his rapidly deteriorating grandfather are especially compelling, and he's disarmingly honest throughout. His dry sense of humor, put to fine use in the title chapter, is sparse but stinging: "One of the great things about... the seventies in general, was that parents and children were encouraged, whenever possible, to participate in separate activities." Made up largely of previously published essays, Price's memoir lacks cohesion and his limited scope can feel self-indulgent (especially in respect to his wife, who comes across as a cipher). Still, this book has a strong agrarian sensibility and a careful method of self-examination that recalls Indiana-based essayist Scott Russell Sanders; it should resonate well with regional readers, but may also catch a groundswell of Green-related interest in urban centers.
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[Price's] amusing tone, including his ability to freely poke fun at himself, works exceptionally well here. Recommended for large public and academic libraries.
Omaha World Herald
“A delightful read…Price adds touches of humor at just the right times in ways recalling the writing of David Sedaris. Price's portrayal of a young man dealing with the occasional hard truth of life is funny at times, moving at others and always engaging. Ultimately, what makes the book work is that Price is a sympathetic person. We find ourselves caring about him.”
“If David Sedaris and Annie Dillard had a literary love child and raised him in Iowa, he would write like this…The landscape of Price’s memoir is a grace-filled territory of wit, wisdom, and, most of all, great compassion. Well worth a visit.”
Lincoln Journal Star, 4/27/08
“Transcends the genre, because it reflects on topics such as familial bonds, spirituality and humor…Price is a fine writer. He has a knack for tidy, unforced metaphors and rooting lofty ideas in simple events. He also employs self-deprecating humor in a way that is mostly convincing and genuinely funny.”
Orion “Book Notes” column
“Part Garrison Keillor, part backyard naturalist, Price writes with self-effacing humor and heart.”
E/The Environmental Magazine
“It may not be an environmental story, per se, but Price’s memories are fused by his awareness of place…And his deep-rooted fondness for Iowa never falters.”
Daily Iowan 7/10/08
“The story of [Price’s] growing up in one of those flat, boring ‘How do I get out of here?’ states: Iowa. Yet readers from any state will identify with his narrative…Call[s] to mind the self-deprecating humor and startling honesty of writer Anne Lamott…But the wonder of this book is how such humor is balanced by a Thoreau-like sensitivity, to the natural world and other things…Each chapter is a delicate weave of the I and the eye, of self and world…Whether he is writing about fatherhood, or marriage, or gardening, or snow geese, readers will be captivated by his honest and funny search for meaning, for belonging, for home.”
“Highly recommended…[An] excellent book…With a conservationist's eye for both detail and clarity, Price's experiences evoke the richness of rural America and reflect an authenticity. Whether it's about wading in a creek, feeding wild burros or hiking through buffalo grass, his perceptive writing is reminiscent of a 21st century Thoreau.”
“It may take patience to get into these tales of the history of America’s Midwest states’ grasslands, but the region and the prose grow on you, much as the corn, soy, and wheat have overgrown nature’s backyard. Price masterfully interlaces lessons in ecosystem management—and loss—with family life, humor, and lessons on how to succeed in integrating science across the curriculum.”
Magill Book Reviews
“A humorous and poignant memoir…Skillfully written…An enjoyable read.”
ISLE, Fall 2010
“A coming-of-age story set in the Midwest…Price’s images sparkle, bringing life to the Iowa landscape.”