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
and#147;Part travelogue . . . part meditation on the meaning of homeand#8221; (Wall Street Journal), Braving Home introduces readers to some of modern Americaand#8217;s most unusual, unforgettable pioneers. The cub reporter Jake Halpern and#151; dubbed the Bad Homes Correspondent by his colleagues and#151; sets out on a journey to some of the most unforgiving locales in America. He wanted to understand the people who live there and#151; and more importantly why they refuse to leave. What results is an irresistible portrait of outlandish places and 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, is entirely surrounded by molten lava.Written in an infectious style and with and#147;swashbuckling spiritand#8221; (Christian Science Monitor), Braving Home is an affectionate and affecting tale of rootedness in America.Jake Halpern is the author of Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction, and Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales, hailed by Bill Bryson as and#147;a splendid and engaging account of stubbornness in Modern America." Halpern has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, LA Weekly, and many other publications. He is also a commentator and freelance producer for NPRand#8217;s All Things Considered. He lives in Connecticut.
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