Out here, reminders of the geological past are everywhere in the flat expanse of inland seafloor, the rolling terrain of glacial morrain, and the rocks that surface each year in the fields and need to be cleared by hand. Part tongue in cheek, the book's subtitle is Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere.
Marquart, descendant of German-speaking immigrants from Russia, tells of the generations of her family, who have farmed the same North Dakota homestead since the late 19th century. Born the last of five siblings, she grows up driving tractors and pickups and doing chores from an early age, while yearning, always yearning, for escape - life being ever elsewhere.
|North Dakota wilderness, photo by Bobjgalindo
In another chapter, an episode on an out-of-state trip with both elderly parents ("To Kill a Deer") is a groaningly hilarious tribute to the impossibility of communicating across generations. Other subjects covered are the special trials of growing up female in a farming community, including the imagined trauma of being among its first settlers from the Old Country. There's also the tenuous self-esteem of North Dakotans whose most well-known celebrity is Lawrence Welk.
Marquart is a fine, entertaining, and moving writer, an eloquent voice for the diminishing number of those who grew up on small family farms on the Great Plains.
Photo credit: wikimedia.org
Coming up: Ian Frazier, On the Rez