Growing up in the small river town of Moline, Illinois, Diane Johnson always dreamed of floating down the Mississippi and off to see the world. Years later, at home in France, a French friend teases her: Indifference to history? - that's why you Americans seem so naïve and don't really know where you're from."
The j'accuse stayed with Johnson. Were Americans indifferent to history? Her own family seemed always to have been in the Midwest. Surely they had got there from somewhere? In digging around, she discovers letters and memoirs written by generations of stalwart pioneer ancestors that testify to more complex times than the derisive nickname "The Flyover" gives the region credit for.
With the acuity and sympathy that her novels are known for, she captures the magnetic pull of home against our lust for escape and self-invention. This spellbinding memoir will appeal to fans of Bill Bryson, Patricia Hampl, and Annie Dillard.
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"The unfailing deftness of the prose makes this book a pleasure." - Kirkus
"Award-winning novelist and essayist Diane Johnson explores her Midwestern roots and family history in this charming and candid memoir...An enjoyable peek into how America shaped one celebrated author's consciousness." - Publishers Weekly
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Diane Johnson is an American-born novelist and essayist. A two-time finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in three different genres - essay, biography, and fiction - she is the author of a dozen novels, including Le Divorce, Le Mariage, and L'Affaire. Here she returns to the mode of her classic biography, Lesser Lives. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and splits her time between San Francisco and Paris.
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