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The Summer of Ordinary Waysby Nicole Lea Helget
Synopses & Reviews
Unforgettable, sometimes hilarious images spill from a fierce and wondrous childhood into the pages of this memoir written by the winner of the 2004 "Speakeasy" Prize for Prose.
"Helget's debut begins with a staggering example of her father's brutality: he mercilessly beats a cow to death for not weaning her calf. Yet Helget refuses to succumb to a 'woe is me' attitude, and she layers vignettes to create a lyrical story of growing up on a Minnesota farm in the 1980s, where her mother verges on insanity, her five unruly younger sisters get underfoot, and death is a familiar part of life. The memoir's charm lies in Helget's dulcet use of language; even as she describes the century-old death of a little girl accidentally buried alive, her words sing: 'Colors explode behind her lids, the colors of poppies and apples and straw and cantaloupe and leaves and Monarchs and stars and sky. And yet... she struggles to open her eyes.... it's black where she is.' The amalgamation of reminiscences appears random until the final piece, in which Helget weaves an account of her child self with that of her adult self, providing context for the previous memories. Pregnant and married at 19, lonely and isolated, Helget tantalizes with a brief peek at her adulthood, but it's enough, because the glimpses into her younger life so satisfyingly explain who she has become." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Helget breaks open the tough shell of family life to reveal a girlhood both tragic and lovely, with all its hidden violence, all its secret beauty.”—Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel
Practicing baseball with Dad, then watching him go after a cow with a pitchfork in a fit of rage. Playing chicken on the county road with semi trucks full of hogs. Flirting with the milkman. Chasing with your sisters after Wreck and Bump, mangy mutts who prowl farmsteads killing chickens and drinking fuel oil. Dandelion wine. The ghost of a girl buried alive over a century ago. These unforgettable, sometimes hilarious images spill from a fierce and wondrous childhood into the pages of The Summer of Ordinary Ways.
About the Author
Nicole Lea Helget studies and teaches at Minnesota State UniversityMankato. She is the winner of the 2004 Speakeasy Prize for Prose. This is her first book.
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