Top critical review
What makes a house a home?
on April 1, 2013
Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World is primarily autobiographical. It is a reflection on the author's home and neighbourhood, where he has lived for the past twenty years, in order to understand his life. It is not in an environment of magnificent splendour or history or nature or beauty. Instead, it is a fine township in farm country Ohio, and the chance of a fresh start with his wife.
In the place Scott Russell Sanders calls home, he explores his sense of community and sense of place. He describes the people he is connected to and why, and of his surroundings - the view from the windows, the seasons, the changing landscape, its smells and impressions, and what makes a house a home. From its purchase in 1974 to the traditional settlers, and to the township's development, he writes of the construction of the channel that has made Ohio into a "chain of lakes." He writes of the birth and development of his daughter, to tornado memories, to family, friends and visitors.
About half way through the book, he philosophically reflects on some people's need to migrate and some people's need to nest. "I quarrel with [author, Salman] Rushdie because he articulates as eloquently as anyone the orthodoxy that I wish to counter: the belief that movement is inherently good, staying put is bad; that uprooting brings tolerance, while rootedness breeds intolerance; that imaginary homelands are preferable to geographical ones; that to be modern, enlightened, fully of our time is to be displaced." Scott Russell Sanders believes that people who root themselves in places are more likely to know and care for those places than are people who root themselves in ideas. This view is based upon nurture, durability, sustainability, and ultimately heritage - a place to be passed on to descendants.
Scott Russell Sanders discusses itinerant populations and migration routes, the writings of poets, authors, scientists, and philosophers, and the influence of music and the arts. The answers are his personal story, but in reflecting on his sense of place, readers examine their own.