Driving the Body Back

Driving the Body Back

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92 pages

“Mary Swander's extraordinary album of family portraits sketches for us the vitality and eccentricities of life and death in rural America….Though the dead she recalls and conjures arise from her own life, Mary Swander speaks for a universal courage and tenderness. She is truly an American original.”—David St. John

“A marvelous collection of folk humor, wild ways and down-home storytelling. Driving the Body Back is a sometimes harsh but always deeply compassionate narrative, and so well constructed that the reader occasionally forgets, as one does with Arabian Nights, who is doing the telling and why. And one doesn't care. It is enough to let Miss Swander's characters enthrall and teach with the stories of their lives.”—Louise Erdrich in the New York Times Book Review

“From the hard task of wresting sustenance from the soil to the hard fact of thawing the ground for burial, Swander's concerns affect us all. If you complain that poets write only for themselves and other poets, this may well be the book for you.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Swander creates a vivid family portrait, one of the best evocations of rural life that I know of, but something far from ordinary or merely domestic. Through the ambitious scope of this sequence, Swander has created a homegrown Decameron empowering anecdote with the resonance of myth.”—David Wojahn

“When Mary Swander turns her people loose, they become heroes and heroines of all the small battles that every human being fights…Driving the Body Back gives a generous picture of a fascinating family, a family which is everyone's family.”—Des Moines Register

“A narrative tour de force…Swander straightforwardly acknowledges grievous loss while affirming, with compassion and humor, the value of the journey itself. Her vision is remarkable in seeing aspects of the sacramental in everyday life: in the courage, perseverance, and folly of her characters, in landscape and nature, and in the actual celebratory process of memory.”—Antioch Review