Adams County Reads One Book has returned! Join us in January of 2006 when we read "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger.
Friday, February 10, 2006
This newsletter covers the chapters: " By the Grace of Lurvy" through "Something Warm." Jeremiah is taken ill and Reuben and Swede must pitch in. Reuben takes a job while Swede cares for her father. On Christmas Eve, just as Jeremiah’s health is returning, a stranger arrives. It is an FBI investigator, Mr. Andreeson, announcing his intention to go in search of Davy. Later that day the DeCuellars arrive with a miraculous gift; Tin Lurvy has died and left his Airstream trailer to Jeremiah. They can now go in search of Davy and set out for the Badlands of North Dakota.
Swede romanticizes their journey by writing more adventures for Sunny Sundown. The Lands inexplicably are able to elude Andreeson and the state police that lay in wait at every gas station along the way. Swede compares her father’s feat to Moses’ parting of the Red Sea. Reuben tells her about their father’s powers and is amazed this has never been evident to Swede.The family drives from town to town in the bitter cold, managing not to run out of gas. At last they stop at a gas station in the small town of Grassy Butte and meet Roxanna Cawley, to whom Swede takes an immediate liking.
The BadlandsAs we read this book in the gently rolling hills and lush green landscape of South Central Pennsylvania, it is hard to imagine the rocky, dry, desolation of The Badlands. It seems otherworldly, a place where all the typical rules of civilization are suspended…itself an outlaw. No wonder it has been the backdrop for many a tale. Teddy Roosevelt said of his years in the Badlands that it was “the romance of my life” and that it helped shape him into a president. How do you think this setting affects this novel?
If you’d like to read more books set in the Badlands, check out the list of favorite books by the Badlands Conservation Alliance including: Willa Cather’s My Antonia and Wallace Stegner’s Wolf Willow.Sunny Sundown
The importance of the old West and the cowboy hero play a major role in this book, particularly for Swede, who sifts all that is happening to her through her writing about the adventures of Sunny Sundown. Through Sunny, Swede is free to explore her own feelings about Davy and his actions. Does she partly blame herself for his killing the two boys who abducted her? Does she feel he was right in his actions? She certainly seems to want him to escape, and uses Sunny to test her bravado. We have compiled the entire Sunny Sundown story on our web site. It is interesting to read it all at once and reflect on these questions.Sunny and Davy are the stereotypical cowboy outlaw…the loner, the one who breaks societal rules in order to “save” that same society. But once he has saved society, he must leave. His destiny is a life adrift with the only constants being his horse and the untamed wilderness.
Other PonderablesAs the Lands drive to the Shultz farm in North Dakota; they come upon two dead crows along the road. Jeremiah remarks in a somewhat awestruck manner that these are the first crows he has ever seen hit along a road – as crows are such smart birds. (133) According to Wikipedia: “Crows often feature in legends or mythology as portents or harbingers of doom or death.” What do you think these crows symbolize, are they a sign of things passed or things to come?
In finding Davy and bringing him home, Reuben realizes that they might sacrifice his freedom. Why do you think it is so important for the Land family to find Davy? What are the risks?At the end of “At War with This Whole World,” Reuben is convinced the world is out to get them and Davy. Is this true, or is it Reuben’s perception of reality coupled with Swede’s romantic vision of the old West?Why has Swede never noticed the “miracles” that have been so evident to Reuben? Why do they suddenly become evident at this time?
Cowboy PoetryEven though the hey days of western genre films and television have faded, cowboy poetry and western literature are hotter than ever. To learn more check out some of our great web site links and book suggestions on our additional resources page, including www.cowboypoetry.com
and books by National Public Radio’s cowboy poet, Baxter Black. And don’t forget to come to our lecture by Western literature specialist David Stanley on Feb. 16 th (see below).Mark Your Calendars!
Please join us for these upcoming fun events; all are free and open to the public. The two lectures are in Joseph Theater, 201 Breidenbaugh Hall, Gettysburg College. Refreshments will follow both lectures.
- Lecture: "Miracles, Myths, and Religion in Peace Like a River,” 7 p.m., Feb. 13
Gettysburg College professor Charles "Buz" Myers will offer insights about the religious underpinnings of Peace Like a River.
- Fairfield Book Discussion, 7 p.m. Feb. 13, Fairfield Area Library ( 31 Wortz Dr, Fairfield)
- Lecture: "The Image of the West in Peace Like a River," 7 p.m. Feb. 16
Folklorist and scholar of the American West David Stanley will discuss the impact of popular images of the West on the novel, with special attention to Swede's writing of Sunny Sundown. Stanley is a professor of English at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. He also produced a CD for Smithsonian Folkways titled Cowboy Poetry Classics (copies will be available for sale).
Keep Reading! By Friday, February 17th you should have read chapters 14: "Something Warm" through 18 "Winning Her Hand."
Thank you for subscribing to the Adams County Reads One Book email newsletter. See you next week!
The One Book Collective*
*A local group of enthusiastic readers.
Sponsored by Gettysburg College and the Adams County Library System. For more information visit: http://www.gettysburg.edu/library/onebook or call 337-6600.