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This Death by Drowning Paperback – February 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 155 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (February 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803277997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803277991
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,498,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

It was bound to happen: in this era of tell-all autobiographies, here at last is a memoir that is not about familial dysfunction. The state poet of Nebraska, Kloefkorn writes prose with pensive grace, one thought flowing into another as water flows into the rivers, lakes, and oceans that become his metaphors for the world's connectedness. Along the way, the reader meets a father who keeps the fingers he lost in a job accident in a jar on a shelf ("'Work for the county long enough,' he said, 'and you'll end up strung out in bottles all the way from hell to breakfast'") and a beloved if stern grandmother whom the young Kloefkorn and his friends suspect briefly of being a Nazi spy. A ten-step method for hypnotizing chickens is only one bit of useful knowledge passed on from an era simpler than our own?well, not really. This is a quirky, funny, moving memoir full of unforgettable characters; readers will not have seen its like before and shouldn't expect to again.?David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

An elegant, moving little book from the current state poet of Nebraska that reflects the author's fascination and intense personal involvement with waters big and small, from farm ponds to the South Pacific. Kloefkorn (English/Nebraska Wesleyan Univ.) cites Loren Eisley's dictum, ``If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.'' The author finds magic in other liquids, too, ``chief among them cow's milk,'' but it is water--and the dangers it can pose--that is Kloefkorn's touchstone, both literary and actual. At the age of six, he fell into Harold Simpson's cow- pasture pond in south-central Kansas and nearly drowned. A few years later his brother, trying to sit behind the wheel of a car submerged in Ely's Sandpit, duplicated the near-fatal mishap. The author writes of his youthful wonder at the family's cistern; of watching his grandmother at a washtub in the backyard, ``washing her long white hair in rainwater''; of his and a paraplegic friend's baptism in Shannon's Creek, performed by a preacher whose sermons were, like ``Kansas waterways, neither deep nor wide.'' Kloefkorn notes another baptism that went awry, with the victim drowning, and wonders if it ``had been sufficiently and well-enough performed for it to have taken hold and thus last.'' Some of the waters he treads are larger, or of different form: He recalls learning of the hundreds drowned in the ``bespoiled water'' of Pearl Harbor; FDR taking the waters at Warm Springs, Ga.; Truman's calling the Hiroshima bomb ``a black rain of ruin''; the time he and a friend dropped an M-80 firecracker in the women's toilet at the Baptist church, bringing on a prodigious flood. He writes, also, of favorite rivers, especially Nebraska's Loup, a stream he has floated down every summer for 30 years. Water drenches these pages, written about in a style that both immerses and quenches. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on September 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of memoir-like essays by Nebraska poet William Kloefkorn, all of them related in one way or another with water - from a near-drowning at the age of four to accounts of river rafting on central Nebraska's Loup River. There is also a baptism in a creek near a small Kansas town where the author grew up. Perhaps most absorbing is the description of life on a hard-scrabble homestead, as lived by Koefkorn's grandparents, without electricity or plumbing, though not without "running water" as provided by runoff from the roof into an underground cistern.

Memories of his young years as a schoolboy include the sinking of ships at Pearl Harbor and drownings at sea during WWII. Granting himself a degree of poetic license, the author weaves together multiple narrative threads and vividly remembered images and epiphanies so that the result is a kind of awed stream of consciousness, laced at points with irony and humor best described as "midwestern". Not a far cry from Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, and fans of that show should enjoy this book.
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