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Comment: Hardcover with dust jacket. Dust jacket shows mild wear to surfaces, edges, corners, and the outer edges of the closed pages including mild edge indentations and general wear / rubbing. Back of front cover portion of jacket has price corner cut out. Title page has previous gift inscription on it. Pages are otherwise clean and there are no other markings noticed upon several scans of the book. Overall this book is in very good condition.
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Driving with Dvorak: Essays on Memory and Identity (American Lives) Hardcover – March 1, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Throughout this stunning book of essays, we journey into memory through a ‘music made of accumulation.’ Fleda Brown’s voice is edgy, direct, yet surprisingly tender. A decrepit summer cottage, a brain-damaged brother, even an exhaustingly difficult father are all part of the symphony she offers her lucky readers.”—Rebecca McClanahan, author of The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings
(Rebecca McClanahan 2009-06-29)

“In these elegant, associative essays, Fleda Brown writes movingly of her metamorphosis in spirit, body, and mind from her hoop-skirted childhood to the present. Her essays are often elegiac, always tender and compassionate, her language a poet’s, her memory a composer’s.”—Robin Hemley, director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa
(Robin Hemley 2009-06-29)

"Fleda Brown's memoir, Driving with Dvorak . . . invokes the elegiac tradition while Brown drives us across spaces as wide as America itself: the architecture of family, marriage, divorce and re-marriage, and the essential defining of self."—Scott Whitaker, Broadkill Review
(Scott Whitaker Broadkill Review)

About the Author

Fleda Brown, professor emerita at the University of Delaware and a faculty member of the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, served as Delaware’s poet laureate from 2001 to 2007. Her many books include, most recently, On the Mason-Dixon Line: An Anthology of Contemporary Delaware Writers, coedited with Billie Travalini, and the award-winning poetry collection Reunion.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Lives
  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803224761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803224766
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,864,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the essays in Driving with Dvorak immensely, although I am hard-pressed to say exactly why. While it's true that Brown and I are the same age, her experiences have differed significantly from mine. She married the first time before she had finished high school, at 17, and there have been two other marriages since then. There is a kind of chrysalis "unfolding" in the stages of her life. The essays trace the evolution of a girl trapped in a dysfunctional family, the result of mismatched parents and a brain-damaged brother. There is an at least partial explanation for that too-early marriage - raging hormones. Brown writes of her early teenage years, growing up in the south, in this way -

"In 1958, maybe still, the smartest thing a church could do with thirteen year-olds was to herd them together, give them a clear regimen , and steer their sexual restlessness, at least temporarily, toward Jesus."

Maybe this was one of those points where I could relate, having been "steered" at about the same age by perhaps well-meaning nuns into a year at a Catholic seminary boarding school, an experience that made me quite miserable until I escaped.

In another essay, "Showgirls," Brown describes a soujourn in Las Vegas where she's been invited to lecture to the International Society of Poets, that infamous organization that solicits poems from unsuspecting aspiring poets and then scams them into buying the the huge volume in which their offering has been published, along with hundreds of other awful poems, for 40 or 50 bucks a whack. I remember a friend of my daughter's in high school who had been taken in by this and carried around this heavy book for weeks to show people her "published poem.
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Format: Hardcover
Driving with Dvorák is a collection of personal essays about childhood, growing up in the 50's, an imperfect family, marriage, anxiety, and how one fits into the world--in short, the sort of material memoir is always made of. What makes these essays special, though, is Brown's particular grace, and the poet's confidence in the cinema of detail to direct mood and meaning straight to the heart.

As her poems often do, Brown's essays descend into the weirdness right when we least expect it. In "Where You Are," a piece about trying for the nth time to fathom her unreachable father, Brown cleans out his basement:

"How to calculate where limbo ends and utter damnation begins? On top, the layer as tall as I am, are limp and bent cardboard boxes stuffed with filthy rags, chenille bedspreads, unused paper cups and plates; an old mixer; a meat grinder; empty glass bottles; glass bottles filled with what used to be plum preserves; two rotten canvas tents. . .the upper reaches, disturbed, shift and collapse."

Further down, Brown continues--

"I will never get this right. He'll slip away again. I'll be as exact as his example taught me to be: I'll list the objects, touch their hard edges with the edges of my words. They'll nudge each other, winking at what's unsaid between them. They know this is about me, still trying to find a parent, some point of origin under the rubble."

The ease and subtlety with which Brown here takes a pile of junk and reshuffles it into commentary--about writing as a last-ditch effort to make sense of this baffling relationship--are both typical and astonishing.

This thorny relationship with her father is a recurrent theme throughout Driving with Dvorák.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The poet Fleda Brown excavates her past with a poet's ear and eye. The result is beautifully wrought out of pain and guilt and is served up with insight and reflection, like coins brought up glittering and bright from murky depths. The essays are lovely to read, to ponder, to consider, and to remember.
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By DR.H on September 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Here you will find sentences upon sentences that are exquisite; little bon bons of richness, complexity, insight and skill. A book to be savored.
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Format: Hardcover
Fleda Brown's prose is as lyrical as her poetry. It rises and falls as she describes, through a series of essays, a lifelong attempt to connect with her father. The cabin in Michigan which is a feature of much of her poetry is also a mainstay in the essays. This cabin is an apt metaphor for Brown's family. Brown writes with a gentle yet determined grace that makes even the most difficult topics of these essays a joy to read. Her poetry is rich with perfect word choices, and so is her prose.
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