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I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place

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Description

“The events of a single episode of Howard Norman’s superb memoir are both on the edge of chaos and gathered superbly into coherent meaning . . . A wise, riskily written, beautiful book.” — Michael Ondaatje

Howard Norman’s spellbinding memoir begins with a portrait, both harrowing and hilarious, of a Midwest boyhood summer working in a bookmobile, in the shadow of a grifter father and under the erotic tutelage of his brother’s girlfriend. His life story continues in places as far-flung as the Arctic, where he spends part of a decade as a translator of Inuit tales—including the story of a soapstone carver turned into a goose whose migration-time lament is “I hate to leave this beautiful place”—and in his beloved Point Reyes, California, as a student of birds. Years later, in Washington, D.C., an act of deeply felt violence occurs in the form of a murder-suicide when Norman and his wife loan their home to a poet and her young son. In Norman’s hands, life’s arresting strangeness is made into a profound, creative, and redemptive story.

“Uses the tight focus of geography to describe five unsettling periods of his life, each separated by time and subtle shifts in his narrative voice . . . The originality of his telling here is as surprising as ever.” — Washington Post

“These stories almost seem like tall tales themselves, but Norman renders them with a journalistic attention to detail. Amidst these bizarre experiences, he finds solace through the places he’s lived and their quirky inhabitants, human and avian.” — The New Yorker

Publishers Weekly Review

Jun 17, 2013 – In this luminous memoir, novelist Norman (The Bird Artist) recalls moments of “arresting strangeness,” even in the midst of his quest to gain clarity and stay balanced emotionally. Norman writes of five places where he lived and the characters he met in each, providing him with an opportunity to reflect on his life. With a twinge of melancholy and a steely resolve not to let himself be moved or hurt, Norman regales us with his tale of lust, death (he inadvertently kills a swan on a local lake), and disappointment that mark his teenage summer of 1964 in Grand Rapids, Mich.: “I was in a phase of moving away from people... and when the duck and swans... migrated south in their formations, I remember feeling bereft.” Norman moves from one place to the next, often simply wishing to look at birds and write about them. He also recalls events that marked changes in his life: his work in an Inuit village where he first heard the phrase used in the book’s title; a murder-suicide in his house in D.C. and its impact on his family; and his encounter with an owl and a kingfisher in Vermont. Norman is currently content to let the world come to his Vermont doorstep, but he may not have given up travelling quite yet.
I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: May 06, 2014
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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