On return trips to Illinois, or when talking to relatives on the phone, I can tell the difference. Life is a little slower where I grew up, and the people are often more polite and considerate of others. I know from experience how considerate they can be.
It is perhaps that personal search for contentment that makes this book a notable contribution to the literature on the American racial problem: Milliner’s “penitent Midwest regionalism” is first of all an attempt to heal within himself the disease and discontentment produced in those of us who have been told that what matters about us is that we are white.
Those of us committed to the Midwest and its literature can and should mourn the damages done to our region by our habits of transience. But we must also recognize, as these two books help us do, that it is not just the Midwest, but life itself, that is “fluid and impermanent.”
In sum, Finding a New Midwestern History is an exemplary compilation of historical interpretations both renewed and new. The enthusiasms of Garland, Wright, and Turner—registered a century and a quarter ago—have found compelling new voices, testifying to the Midwest’s remarkable past, and present.
I lived much of my adult life under Terry Branstad’s multiple tenures as governor of Iowa, and I think he did a “pretty fair...
If you think you may legitimately enjoy the physical benefits of a place while dwelling in the airy regions of judgment above it, you’d better think again.
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