An American Harvest: How One Family Moved from Dirt-Poor Farming to a Better Life in the Early 1800s – Cardy Raper
Political Fictions– Joan Didion
Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum – Michael McCreary
This happens every year.
February ends, and I exhale a big sigh of relief. The two worst months of the year are over, and the arrival of March means spring is right around the corner. Time to relax a little and enjoy some extra daylight.
Then March begins, and I end up so much busier than expected. Before I find my rhythm, the month is over. And this time around, I discovered something unusual. I didn’t have much time for reading, and I only bought one book. Plus had one given to me.
Anyway, the book I read, An American Harvest: How One Family Moved from Dirt-Poor Farming to a Better Life in the Early 1800s, is the carefully curated oral history of the Raper family. It comes from a tape-recorded conversation between one sister and seven brothers at a family reunion in 1965. The author, Burlington, VT-based Cardy Raper, put the book together decades after she made the recording of her sister-in-law and brothers-in-law.
I didn’t come across the book casually. I read it in preparation for interviewing the author for a side-project with the League of Vermont Writers. And I’m glad that project gave me the opportunity to read An American Harvest.
The story of a family of tobacco farmers in rural North Carolina, I was struck by how much I identified with the tales they told. I grew up on a dairy farm in northern Vermont in the 1980s and ‘90s. But despite the geographical and agricultural differences, not to mention the separation of our lives by decades, there were common themes throughout the book that stirred deep emotions up for me at times.
Raper’s book is broken into chapters based on a list of mottos her husband’s parents lived their lives by. This structure punches up the themes of the family’s history in a way a simple transcription of the recordings wouldn’t. It made me think of my own family and how I can preserve experiences and a way of New England agrarian life that’s quickly dissolving as the future pours in.
On to my purchase.
I’m excited to read Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum by Toronto-based comedian Michael McCreary. I love comedy, and my full-time job is working one-on-one with kiddos on the spectrum. I’m pretty passionate about both, and I’m glad I found this book waiting for me this past weekend at Brome Lake Books in Knowlton, QC. (One of my favorite bookstores, by the way. It’s less than half an hour from the international border, and it’s an English language bookstore.)
I should mention that recently I started another recurring segment here on the blog called Long Box of Memories. It’s where I’ll be focusing on my comic book habit and sharing how they’ve connected to my life in general over the years. For me, reading comics is a very different experience from spending time with prose, so I’ll focus on that in its own place going forward. If you haven’t checked out Long Box of Memories yet, scroll back a bit or find it right here.
Guess that’s it for now. I’d love it if you would share what you read and bought in March in the comments below.
Happy April reading!
With Apologies to Hornby is a monthly look back at the books read, purchased, found, and given to me in the previous month. This feature is inspired by Nick Hornby’s Stuff I’ve Been Reading column in the The Believer magazine.