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jvinson98
Friend

Looking for fiction books about modern farm family

I am a student in a college literature class and have to read ten books as part of a project on a chosen subject.  My subject is the modern farm family.  Does anyone out there have any suggestions for modern farm family fiction novels, such as Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres.  I would really like to use this subject, but am afraid I will not find enough books about it.

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6 Replies
Kay/NC
Advisor

Re: Looking for fiction books about modern farm family

 That one was my first thought.  I heard a discussion last week on NPR about Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter, bought it that day, but haven't had a chance to read it for period setting yet...it is on point for subject matter, though.  It is about a family and farm succession, as is Smiley's in a sad, sick way. 

We've discussed several titles in this genre' here in the past...I recommend Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt highly; but it, like most books about farm families, is more a memoir.  There are tons of those out there.  I saw one called The Dirty Life (also a memoir) last week, and enjoyed Better Off, Five Acres and a Poodle, Windbreak, Making Hay (by Verlyn Klinkinborg, who has written several rural life titles in this general vein), and several more whose titles escape me right this second. 

If you can utilize memoir instead of just fiction, I think you will find a wealth of material.  I tried a search for titles on amazon, but most that came back were nonfiction, again mostly memoirs.  Gene Logsdon had one novel, and with Berry's and Smiley's that makes three decent writers so far.  

Further in my search, I see that Berry has several titles listed as novels, and I guess that your definition of "modern" might have to include the twentieth century to get hardly anything at all to choose from here.  Once you start to search the amazon site, you find several titles, http://www.amazon.com/Pickle-Family-Farm-Story/dp/0299223043/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t, being just one link I can paste here for you. 

I'd say memoirs will be easier, but if you dig hard enough, and define ."modern" widely enough, you may be able to find ten foction pieces to work with...probably not many as expansive as Smiley's work, which won several awards, including a Pulitzer. 

Honestly, I find truth far more interesting than fiction most times.  If reading about modern farm families is your goal, limiting yourself to made-up stories will be overlooking the real voices from rural America. 

Hope this helps...look through amazon a while, and post back.  I'll look at my shelves tomorrow, when we get back from the vet. 

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suey1973
Senior Contributor

Re: Looking for fiction books about modern farm family

I saw the title of this thread and headed to the place I have with a list of farming/rural life books........ for kids.    So I'm really no help at all for you.   But,  if you want a list of farm books for youth  I've been saving lists of them for over 20 years.     Best of luck with your assignment.  

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jvinson98
Friend

Re: Looking for fiction books about modern farm family

I live in Iowa and need books that are are based in the heartland or delta or other well known farming regions of the country and are about the farm family,  I can use memiors as well, but these must be adult/secondary/college level books.  I really appreciate everyone's help so far!

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Kay/NC
Advisor

Re: Looking for fiction books about modern farm family

Several of Verlyn Klinkinborg's books ought to fit your specifications.  The Dirty Life is a very current one,  with a city girl leaving her life behind to follow the man of her dreams to the land of his dreams. 

Better Off  is about a young couple that leaves to live without electricity for a year in a rural religious community, and it is very good.  They do not divulge the location, to protect the religious order from an influx of the curious. 

 In a similar vein, I like the theme of returning to an eariler era by a modern family, which is the story of See You in a Hundred Years (http://www.amazon.com/See-You-Hundred-Years-Discover/dp/0385342683/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1291051876...). I think that is set in the Shenandoah Valley, which is a very historically agricultural area. 

 

 I am a big fan of  Stephen Budiansky, who wrote The Covenant of the Wild, which is part his own memoir, part natural history of animals and humans in agriculture, and the bond's responsibilities on our part to care for them.  Maybe not your topic, but a very worthwhile read.

I think your topic may be a bit narrow if you insist on "heartland" ties...although Breaking Clean should fit in, if you can have nonfiction memoir, as would Windbreak. 

Be careful not to insist on  too narrow a definition of "family."  Smiley had a typical nuclear family, but some of the best farm family books I've read are about couples, and that is a family, too. 

There's a whole series of fiction titles with women main characters and horses featured in them, but I cannot recall their author or any specific titles.   

None of what I've recommended is juvenile material...it is all adult and some have serious subject matter that I would not expose a child to in literature. 

Have you coinsidered going to the library on campus, enlisting the search functions of their extensive collection and outside borrwoing capabilities from other places, and perhaps asking a librarian for some help in finding books on your topic? 

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Ruby Lou
Senior Contributor

Re: Looking for fiction books about modern farm family

Best way would be to actually go out and interveiw modern farm families.

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josuzagr
Contributor

Re: Looking for fiction books about modern farm family

Try A Can of Peas by Traci DePree

 

It's about a young couple who have their careers in Minneapolis and decide to return to rural Minnesota and start farming on his family's farm.   The new wife is not from a farm or rural area.  I liked it.

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