Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, spellbinding essays on place, young love, and a life-altering crime
Angela Palm grew up in a place not marked on the map, in a house set on the banks of a river that had been straightened to make way for farmland. Every year, the Kankakee River in rural Indiana flooded and returned to its old course while the residents sandbagged their homes against the rising water. From her bedroom window, Palm watched the neighbor boy and loved him in secret, imagining a life with him even as she longed for a future that held more than a job at the neighborhood bar. For Palm, caught in this landscape of flood and drought, escape was a continually receding hope.
Though she did escape, as an adult Palm finds herself drawn back, like the river, to her origins. But this means more than just recalling vibrant, complicated memories of the place that shaped her, or trying to understand the family that raised her. It means visiting the prison where the boy she loved is serving a life sentence for a brutal murder. It means trying to chart, through the mesmerizing, interconnected essays of Riverine, what happens when a single event forces the path of her life off course.
Combining lyrical prose with a haunting narrative Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize–winner Palm recounts a story filled with secret longings family history and musings on what might have been. Raised in rural Indiana alongside the flood prone Kankakee River Palm dreamed of escaping to a wider world populated with more opportunities. Palm eventually does depart for college and later makes a home in Vermont. But the pull back to the Midwest is strong and nagging questions persist. As a youngster the author was secretly in love with her next door neighbor. But their routes diverged with Palm making a new life for herself first in Indianapolis and later in Vermont while her neighbor ends up serving a life sentence for murder. Palm probes deeply into the family and small town stories which instilled such a deep sense of place in the author. She becomes fascinated with theories of criminal justice—taking college classes on the subject reading local police blotters and watching crime shows on television to better understand the how and why of what happened to her friend. All in all this is a memoir to linger over savor and study. Agent: Lana Popovic Chalberg amp; Sussman. (Aug.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"Angela Palm delivers a lyrical story—we come of age with her as she navigates a complicated landscape within and surrounding her. She breaks rules in life. She breaks rules on the page. Language is her essence here. There are sentences so arresting, I paused and paused and paused to absorb them." Molly Caro May, author of The Map of Enough
"Haunting....Densely symbolic, unsentimental, and eloquent, Palm's book explores the connections between yearning, desire, and homecoming with subtlety and lucidity. The result is a narrative that maps the complex relationships that exist between individual identity and place. An intelligent, evocative, and richly textured memoir." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Combining lyrical prose with a haunting narrative, Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize–winner Palm recounts a story filled with secret longings, family history, and musings on what might have been....This is a memoir to linger over, savor and study." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Moving meditations on how memories continue to affect one's ever-changing personality, however far away we may move." Booklist
"[Palm’s] writing is easy to read, compelling and draws the reader in with its momentum. Riverine is about self-determination, the origin of deviance, and places, particularly the liminal ones....Palm’s story is yet unfinished, but her memoir has an admirable structure and art of its own." Shelf Awareness
"Riverine is a powerful memoir about origins, familial ties and the inevitable shock when life’s trajectory takes an unexpected turn." Malibu Magazine
"In Riverine one is reminded of Mary Karr....One also thinks, when reading Palm, of Annie Dillard....There is volumetric power here. Sizable intrigue in the sentences. Bold declarations that (as all memoir must) destabilize the reader and paralyze easy judgment on both the life lived and the words chosen. Angela Palm has left the river and returned to it. Angela Palm has arrived." Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Angela Palm owns Ink + Lead Literary Services and is the editor of an anthology of Vermont writers, Please Do Not Remove. Her work has appeared in Paper Darts, Midwestern Gothic, Tampa Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Burlington, Vermont.
Angela Palm on PowellsBooks.Blog
While showering, I spotted on the high, white window ledge an ant ensphered completely by a single drop of water. Inside the edges of the drop of water were the ant’s six legs, its head, thorax, and abdomen. There were its scuttling claws and withering antennae in drenched peril....