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Essays / Memoirs / Photography / American Midwest


A Midwest Journal
Richard Quinney

A literary and photographic evocation of the Midwest

Watch closely, Richard Quinney reminds himself, participate, experience the mystery. And watching, we experience with him the wonders of the borderland between a remembered past and an ever-unfolding present, the extraordinary mysteries of ordinary life in a world comfortably situated in the middle of a vast, unknowable universe.

To be a midwesterner is, for Quinney, to belong to a place, to a time, to a community, all of which he evokes in this physical, mental, and spiritual geography. In photographs handed down over the years and in those he has taken over a half-century, in reflections and anecdotes, forays into history and judicious quotations and observations from figures as varied as T. S. Eliot, Roland Barthes, and Bob Dylan, Quinney recreates the landscape of his life. Here, he conjures the reality of his Midwest—the land where his great-grandparents, fleeing famine in Ireland, settled to farm, and where in days past the Potawatomi hunted and fished; and the land where now, in later age, Quinney's explorations intensify as he looks for—and finds—"a lifetime burning in every moment."

Equal parts memoir, geography, photo journal, and natural history, Borderland is a deeply felt exploration of what it means to be at home in a particular landscape. A nuanced literary evocation of place in the tradition of Aldo Leopold and Wallace Stegner, it leaves us with the gift Quinney promises himself: Once again the wonder.

Richard Quinney, professor emeritus of sociology at Northern Illinois University, is the author of Journey to a Far Place and For the Time Being.

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cover of Borderland is a sober blue and blue grey, with a black and white photo of a Midwestern farm. A lone tree stands in solitary meditation

November 2001
192 pp. 70 b/w photos 8 x 8 1/2
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