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My Home is Far Away

Dawn Powell

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Description

My Home is Far Away is the most precisely autobiographical of Powell’s fifteen novels. In this family chronicle set in early twentieth century Ohio, young Marcia Willard’s family struggles to keep up with the rapidly changing times, and Marcia endures disillusionment, cruelty, and betrayal to forge a survivor’s sense of independence. John Updike has compared Powell with Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, “and those other Midwestern writers who felt something epic in the national shift from rural to urban, from provincial sequestration to metropolitan liberation.” By 1941, when Powell set to work on My Home Is Far Away, she was better known for the smart, boozy, bawdy, hilarious send-ups of Manhattan high and low life. She had begun to attain a reputation for high sophistication and nothing could be less “sophisticated” – in the glittering, all-knowing, furiously present-tense, big-city manner Powell had perfected – than My Home Is Far Away.
This was the month of cherries and peaches, of green apples beyond the grape arbor, of little dandelion ghosts in the grass, of sour grass and four-leaf clovers, of still dry heat holding the smell of nasturtiums and dying lilacs. This was the best month of all and the best day. It was not birthday, Easter, Christmas, or picnic, but all these things and something else, something wonderful, something utterly unknown. The two little girls in embroidered white Sunday dresses knew no way to express their secret joy but by whirling each other dizzily over the lawn crying, “We’re moving, we’re moving! We’re moving to London Junction!”
My Home Is Far Away is one of the very few examples of a book written for adults, with an adult command of the language, that maintains the vantage point of a hungry, serious child throughout. It might be likened to a memoir that has been penned not with the usual tranquility of distance but rather with the sense that everything happening to the characters is happening right now, without any promise of eventual escape, without any assurance that childhood, too, shall pass away.
My Home is Far Away had been out of print for sixty years when Steerforth reissued it in 1995. It received immediate widespread acclaim, and was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, where Terry Teachout called it “one of the permanent masterpieces of childhood, comparable with David Copperfield, What Maisie Knew and the early reminiscences of Colette,” and where he proclaimed Powell to be “one of this country’s least recognized great novelists.”

Publishers Weekly Review

Jun 01, 1998 – Originally published in 1944, this reissue of Powell's fictionalized memoir of her Ohio girlhood lacks the hijinks, wit and clever plotting readers expect from her satirical New York novels like Angels on Toast. Yet the patient reader will find other rewards: a strong sense of place, time, character and language that carry the story along. This is the world of Marcia Willard, a little girl who is so bright that she can memorize her older sister's homework in a glance, but who is still often puzzled by the people and goings-on around her. Her father is a charming, unreliable traveling salesman who sings to his wife, buys a gramophone, but often fails to leave enough money to support his three daughters. As the family weathers tragedy, Marcia comes to feel that ``either people spoiled your plans because they were downright mean or because they `meant it for the best'... you couldn't trust anybody.'' The deepening sadness of the story is tempered by Powell's fascinating evocation of the details--charming and not so--of turn-of-the-century Ohio life: buggy rides, consumption, a slop jar with a pink crocheted lid, a parlor boasting ``the works of Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southwarth,'' homemade sea foam candy. Powell's manipulation of time and perception is also canny: just as Marcia is often surprised by the vicissitudes of life, so is the reader rarely aware of what will happen next. If sometimes grim and slow-moving, Powell's story has created very real characters in a vanished world.
My Home is Far Away
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jun 01, 1998
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 319 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 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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