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Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Localesby Jake Halpern
Ever ride out a hurricane? Or two? Cub reporter Jake Halpern was dubbed the "Bad Home Correspondent" after exploring some of the worst places to live in America. With thoughtful insight and integrity, Halpern opens the door to wild locations (from an indoor town in Alaska to an active Hawaiian volcano) and shares the magic of place and the hearty souls who love their homes.
Synopses & Reviews
Funny, moving, and utterly unique, Braving Home introduces us to five unforgettable modern American pioneers. When Jake Halpern was a cub reporter, he became obsessed with stories about "some outlandish and often hellish place inhabited by a handful of stalwarts who refused to leave." His fellow reporters joked with him and nicknamed him the Bad Homes Correspondent. But the more he learned about these people, the more he was drawn to them.
Determined to understand their fierce devotion to home, Halpern set off on a journey to five of the most punishing towns in America. Braving Home is his irresistible portrait of these hometowns and his friendships with their most loyal residents. In North Carolina, he meets a retired mill worker who single-handedly manned his hometown in the wake of a devastating flood. In Alaska, Halpern works for a spunky woman who runs a video store/tanning salon and delivers newspapers to an "indoor town" — a lone snowbound high-rise at the foot of a glacier. At the base of a Hawaiian volcano, he stays with a hermit whose house, formally an inn, was surrounded by molten lava. In Malibu, nestled among the glitterati, a longtime "hillbilly" teaches him the traditions of firefighting. Finally, on a barrier island off the coast of Louisiana, a legendary storm rider tells of surviving hurricanes — even if it means tying one's hair to a tree.
Throughout his journey, Halpern explores the value of rootedness in an age when American society is more mobile than ever. Along the way, he discovers why no amount of floods, lava, wind, fire, or hurricanes can tug these unforgettable people from their roots.
"Halpern has carved a creative niche for himself as the New Millennium's skewed answer to the late Charles Kuralt. This is perceptive writing that illuminates the human condition." Publishers Weekly
"What we have here, Halpern suggests, are people with genuine pride of place and sense of home....Throwbacks, maybe, but Halpern is 'impressed by their fierce pioneer spirit, clearly atavistic, but proudly unyielding.' You will be, too." Kirkus Reviews
"The book is like a stay-at-home adventure, with all the excitement but none of the hardship....[T]he perfect book for armchair travelers interested in virtual visits to 'extreme locations.'" Booklist
"Part travelogue...part meditation on the meaning of home" "(Wall Street Journal), Braving Home introduces readers to some of modern America's most unusual, unforgettable pioneers. Cub reporter Jake Halpern, dubbed the Bad Homes Correspondent by his fellows, became obsessed with stories about "outlandish places inhabited by a handful of stalwarts who refused to leave." Determined to understand them, Halpern set out on a journey to some of the most punishing towns in America. Braving Home is his irresistible portrait of these hometowns and his friendships with their most loyal residents. Meet a firefighting hillbilly in Malibu, a video store clerk who lives in a snowbound high-rise in Alaska, a hermit whose house in Hawaii, formerly an inn, was entirely surrounded by molten lava. Halpern's infectious style and "swashbuckling spirit" (Christian Science Monitor) shine through on every page, earning him the moniker of "the New Millennium's skewed answer to the late Charles Kuralt" (Publishers Weekly). Halpern has written an affectionate and affecting tale of rootedness in America. With Braving Home we "watch a new American storyteller step up to the plate" (Denver Post).
About the Author
Born in 1975 in Buffalo, New York, JAKE HALPERN attended Yale University. He has written for the New Republic, Commonweal, the Jerusalem Report, and other magazines. Unlike the people in this book, he comes from a family with a long tradition of leaving places: his great-grandmother immigrated to America, returned home to Hungary, then immigrated to America once again. His grandfather was so desperate to get out of New York that he took a job chipping paint on a giant freighter bound for California via the Panama Canal. Jake Halpern has lived in New Haven, Prague, London, Tel Aviv, Washington, D.C., and India. For now, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
Contents Introduction: The Bad Homes Correspondent 1 The Underwater Town: Princeville, North Carolina 10 Tower of the Arctic: Whittier, Alaska 50 The Lava-Side Inn: Royal Gardens Subdivision, Hawaii 86 Canyon of the Firefighting Hillbillies: Malibu, California 126 Island of the Storm Riders: Grand Isle, Louisiana 168 Epilogue 211 Notes 229 Acknowledgments 239
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