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A Place of sense: essays in search of the Midwest by Michael Martone, David Plowden

By Michael Martone, David Plowden

Essays describe lifestyles in small cities, farming groups, and suburbs in states from Ohio to North Dakota.

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Extra resources for A Place of sense: essays in search of the Midwest

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At my desk in Grenada, I wanted the objects and experiences I was recoveringin letters, conversations, and revisions of memoryto remain independent and intact. Yet I knew I couldn't help but do as the word recover implied: hide each one again beneath memory, even beneath the memory of a memory. The danger with the things that recollection has chosen is their willfulness. Page 27 Deserving or not, each hopes to be a symbolat the least, a symbol of what we've forgotten. At a desk now, in Columbus, Ohio, I have hoped that my recollections of Grenada and the Midwest I began to describe there would resist similar tidiness.

Before my birth in Columbus, that same imagination created Big Bear, the nation's first supermarket. Alas, I was born decades too late to see the trained bear lumbering along the (then) strangely accessible aisles, pawing particular comestibles into a cart, thereby testifying to the ease of going shopping. That mindset spawned Town and Country, the nation's first shopping center, a stretch of individual businesses that offered, more than windows decorated with the latest goods, a vision of the future.

How had we been singled out to deserve these treats? And what could we do to get more? The samples had been sent to Page 23 us just for living where we lived, on Bolton Avenue, in Columbus, Ohio. With a vividness that borders on permanent damage, I can recall the thin, squishable packets of Herbal Essence Shampoo that arrived frequently enough that my mother never needed to purchase a bottle. These were the years when the peace symbol, spray-painted on overpasses and bathroom walls, was never mistaken for the Mercedes-Benz logo, and our late awakening to ecology urged us to compensate by rinsing our hair with scents from the green world.

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