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Flyover lives : a memoir
2014
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Topics
Writers
Family histories
Ancestors
Midwesterners
Setting
Moline, Illinois - Midwest (U.S.)
Time Period
-- 20th-21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

Award-winning novelist and essayist (L'Affair) Johnson explores her Midwestern roots and family history in this charming and candid memoir. Using letters written by her pioneer ancestors, the author delves into family stories while examining the lure she always felt to leave her comfortable home in Moline, Ill. "A pleasant place, surrounded by cornfields, I had always longed to get out of." Johnson eventually got her wish, expanding her cultural horizons by living in California, London, and France. Johnson fills her chronological narrative with glimpses into the lives of her the 18th-century ancestors-lives filled with departures for the New World, religious revelations, and the painting, quilting, knitting, crocheting, and canning skills that preoccupied her female ancestor's lives and were common activities for both her mother and aunts. Johnson's tale tips into contemporary times with recollections of her family's love for bucolic self-reliance, played out in their summer home; her Protestant upbringing; and her experiences in New York while a guest editor at Mademoiselle alongside Sylvia Plath. Johnson lightly touches on her two marriages and her writing career. An enjoyable peek into how America shaped one celebrated author's consciousness. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
"Smart . . . perceptive . . .  Flyover Lives  is a memoir of the Midwest sure to charm readers . " <br> --Maureen Corrigan, NPR <br> <br> From the  New York Times  bestselling author of  Le Divorce , a dazzling meditation on the mysteries of the "wispy but material" family ghosts who shape us <br> <br> 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."<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.
Table of Contents
Forewordp. xv
IIn France
1A Weekend with Generalsp. 3
IIFlyover Country
2Moline, Pop. 34,000p. 19
3My Molinep. 26
4Myopiap. 36
5Pastimesp. 38
6Economiesp. 45
7Booksp. 49
IIIEighteenth Century Beginnings
8How We All Descend from Greatnessp. 55
9Rannap. 59
10Anne and Godp. 66
11Hutsp. 73
121800p. 79
13John Perkins Too Sees Godp. 82
14Some Stories from the Life of Catharine Perkinsp. 85
15The Story of Catharine Continuedp. 91
16The Inappropriate Letterp. 93
17Catharine's Romancep. 97
18The Affair of the Locketp. 99
19Rascalsp. 104
20The Elusive Eleazerp. 107
21Wedding Journeyp. 111
22Bloomingburgp. 116
23Women's Work: Quiltsp. 118
24Eleazer the Doctorp. 124
25Sorrowp. 128
26Depressionp. 132
27Warsp. 135
IVModern Days
28Watseka, Chenoap. 149
29Rich in Unclesp. 153
30Summerp. 160
31In God We Trusted...p. 168
32The Dark Shadowp. 173
33Flyoverp. 174
34Mademoisellep. 178
35Californiap. 185
36Writerp. 188
37Silver Screenp. 192
38Uncle Billp. 221
39Divorcep. 229
40Londonp. 230
41Emancipation Proclamationp. 242
42Defeatp. 245
43Yellow Morganp. 247
44Chagrinp. 251
Epiloguep. 260
Acknowledgmentsp. 265
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