I hate to leave this beautiful place

From Catherine Given
Author:  Howard Norman
Title:   I hate to leave this beautiful place

I would place this book in the top five books I’ve read.

By the author of “The Bird Artist” and “What is Left the Daughter,” this book is not — as the title might suggest, and as I first feared — the story of a terminal illness. Rather, the book’s title derives from an Inuit folk tale about a man transformed into a goose, who utters the title sentence at the onset of winter. “I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place” is a pensive, unforgettable memoir about love, beauty, grief, poverty and peace as well as cultural differences, the literary life, shamanism, and mental illness.

In what Norman calls “associative patterns” rather than original chronologies,” the topics and beloved landscapes he says are covered here include a” bookmobile and an elusive father in the Midwest, a landscape painter whose plane crashes in Saskatchewan, a murder-suicide in my family’s house, a Quagmiriut Inuit rock band specializing in the songs of John Lennon; and in Vermont, a missing cat, a well drilling, and my older brother’s requests to be smuggled into Canada.” A good memoir gives the reader snapshots and a linear life story. Norman’s associative patterns instead create a richly textured mosaic.

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