A Country Called Home

Kim Barnes2 Here at Centrum we're jazzed that novelist, memoirist, and acclaimed teacher of writing Kim Barnes will be teaching at the Port Townsend Writers' Conference, July 12-19, 2009. (Read a new interview with Barnes here!)

Barnes and Tony Cohan will be teaching workshops in the craft of creative nonfiction. To read their class descriptions, please follow this link! I recently finished Cohan's book "On Mexican Time" and participants are pouring into his workshop and Kim Barnes's workshop.

Barnes's newest book is the novel "A Country Called Home." It's the second novel and fourth book for the writer who burst onto the national scene with the publication of her memoir "In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country," winner of the PEN/Jerard Award and finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize. 

In this novel–another finalist for the Pulitzer Prize–a newly married Connecticut couple move cross-country to the wildnerness of Idaho. The novel centers on the lives of the men and "wind-scalded" women who work the fields and rivers, whose hands are callused, and whose hearts are restless, and the rich descriptions of the Idaho landscape soaks into every page.

A Country Called Home “The country through which Kim Barnes's characters travel in this novel of spiritual and emotional searching is a landscape eroded by grief and yearning and ultimately shame for our dissolution from our gods," writes Mark Spragg, the author of "An Unfinished Life," among other books.

In the novel, the Connecticut doctor, Thomas Derracote, searches for himself in the rivers and mountains, and, after a rattlesnake bite, in the warm embrace of Dilaudid, which presents itself to him in many forms–capsule, liquid. It's the story of his wife, Helen, and her own dangerous searches, and of their daughter, whose return to the homestead opens the novel.

But more than that it's a story of how we live. Of birth, of death, of hamburgers and ketchup, of the smell of lemons and licorice, of whiskey, of swallows that "rest in their cool fists of mud," of wheat fields, and anorexia, and the search for a better tomorrow.  

Claire Davis writes: “A seductive book of love and obsession, Kim Barnes's new novel, A Country Called Home, explores the consequences of a man’s single-minded vision and the family made to walk the knife’s edge between control and freedom. It is an elegant work, a lyrical feast so richly imagined it feels genuinely lived."

To register for the Cohan or Barnes nonfiction workshops, please follow this link or call the Centrum registrar at 360.385.3102, x114.

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