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Rose City: A Memoir of Work (Creative Nonfiction) Paperback – September 30, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0922811656 ISBN-10: 0922811652
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From Publishers Weekly

One August day in 1992, Harper went to work in an Indiana greenhouse cutting roses and spraying insecticides; by October, she had become a researcher, and by the end of her four-month stint, she was a supervisor. From this recollection of her time in the greenhouse, Harper flashes back to 1981, when she was a college senior. She had a crush on her married photography professor, Richard, who over the next decade sent her 80 letters. In 1989, though, Harper married another man and lived a comfortable, upper-middle-class life. Yet three years later, she found herself rereading Richard's letters, and, once she reconnected with him, they began an affair. Harper left her husband, and took off with Richard on a road trip from Indiana to the Southwest and back. On returning, she learned that her family's home in Massachusetts had been seriously damaged by fire and that a month earlier, her mother had been diagnosed with Parkinson's. Harper is a sophisticated stylist, dabbling in the second-person and sliding in and out of the greenhouse months and the surrounding years, but nothing about this pointless, self-absorbed narrative will evoke readers' empathy;not about Harper's discomfort at the gossip the affair provoked, not about roses or the working poor (her colleagues at the greenhouse), not even about insecticides. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

The anguish of divorce and the anxiety surrounding an uncertain future are explored with blazing honesty and sublime poignancy in Harper's stellar account of the months she worked in the greenhouses of E. G. Hill, once the largest grower of roses in the world. An East Coast girl by birth, Harper returns to the small Midwestern city where she attended college, having left her husband in Massachusetts to drive across country to be with the man she loves. Although trained as a writer, Harper is forced to accept a minimum-wage laborer's job, one fraught with physical and social challenges. Within this alien, blue-collar environment, Harper's anger and confusion are replaced by wisdom and respect, a remarkable transformation she credits to the grace and graciousness of the marginalized, often--misunderstood people she works with. By sharing their experiences, this memoirist hopes to illuminate for others some of the dark corners of the world, and, indeed, Harper's elegiac and eloquent narrative is a beacon of pure, clear light. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Creative Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 177 pages
  • Publisher: Mid List Pr (September 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922811652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922811656
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,698,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alphienovember on October 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jean Harper's beautifully written memoir does two things that memoirists these days rarely do. First of all, her own personal drama takes a backseat to the lives of those with whom she works in the greenhouse in Rose City. They are the primary focus of the story, the stars of the show, and Harper's empathy and admiration for them shines through every line she devotes to them. In doing so, she gives a voice to people who are rarely understood in the middle class world from which Harper, and probably her readers, come. The second thing Harper does that sets this book apart from many contemporary memoirs is that she refuses to cheapen her experience by sensationalizing it. She writes: "There are many things I could write about that first summer Richard and I spent together. What should I tell? How in love we were? Certainly. Our sex life? I think not." In an age where sex sells, Harper resists the temptation to tell her reader every steamy detail. She understands that her story is compelling on its own, and it is. An elegant memoir.
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