Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere by Debra Marquart

"As I get older, I become infinitely interested in everything older than I am - old people, old letters, photographs, and papers, ship manifests, yellowed newspapers, crispy deeds, buried archives." Debra Marquart

One reason that we enjoy memoirs is that we identify with authors. In their experiences and thoughts, we see a bit of ourselves. I found this true with The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere by Debra Marquart. As I read of her spending an afternoon watching the nearby highway out her brother's window, counting the cars going in each direction, I recalled slow hot summer afternoons looking out my grandmother's front window with my sister. Would the next car be red or green? What a delight it was when we were right.

There is a good mix of similarities and differences in Marquart's life and mine to keep her story fascinating and unpredictable. Many of the circumstances were the same but her actions were far different from mine, but I can understand why she rebelled. I was not faced with the prospects of being expected to become a farmer's wife. I never had daily farm chores that kept me from friends. My life was much easier, and I was given my ticket for escape. Marquart traveled a hard road out.

Yet, in middle age, we are in similar places. Both of us are book people now living in communities of little interest to our families. We pass through time portals when we revisit our origins. We have reconciled with and care for our aging parents. Our dreams often take us back to houses we will never reenter.

Marquart is a fine storyteller with an eye for detail and sense of place. She'll string you along, and you'll gladly follow. By the way, turn your head 90 degrees to look at the book cover.

Marquart, Debra. The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere. 2006. 270p. ISBN 9781582433455.

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