University of Minnesota Press
256 pages | 9 b&w illustrations | 2010
U OF M BOOKSTORES | DRURY LANE BOOKS / GRAND MARAIS | EAT MY WORDS BOOKSTORE / MINNEAPOLIS | HINCKLEY FIRE MUSEUM | MAGERS & QUINN / MINNEAPOLIS | MILL CITY MUSEUM STORE / MINNEAPOLIS | MINNESOTA HISTORY CENTER STORE / ST. PAUL | SCOUT & MORGAN BOOKS / CAMBRIDGE | SISTER WOLF BOOKS / DORSET | VALLEY BOOKSELLER / STILLWATER | AMAZON.COM | BARNES & NOBLE.COM | BARNES & NOBLE STORES
These are outlets that have carried Memory of Trees. Always call to make sure it's in stock.
COME TO AN EVENT
ABOUT THE BOOK
Memory of Trees is the story of a farm in east central Minnesota—Pine County, four miles west of the St. Croix River.
A farm accident triggers an urban woman’s search to understand her attachment to her family’s farm and the reasons—conflict, culture, economics, and illness—that it was sold. As she sits beside her uncle’s hospital bed during an October that ends in a blizzard, she wonders: Why were he and she, once close but now so different, the two who resisted the sale? The search through memory leads to the alpine valley of their ancestors, ruined farm towns of the Roman Empire in North Africa, and ancient Biblical texts about land and exile. The journey uncovers the relationship of forests, farms, and migration in Western civilization through the example of this farm in the “golden triangle” between the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers.
From the beginning of agriculture, men and women have carved farms from forests. This is the story of such a farm, settled by Swiss immigrants in 1881 near the path of the railroad from St. Paul to Duluth, Minnesota. Their great-granddaughter's most vivid memory is the border they created between fields and woods, leading from the farmstead up the lane, a half-mile to the railroad and U.S. Highway 61.
The central story begins in 1960, seen through a child’s eye and told in a voice that matures as the landscape widens. On a dairy farm with two barns and two white houses live two brothers married to sisters, their growing children, aging grandparents, and haunting ancestors, destined to clash in the culture wars and economic crisis to come.
Beneath the belief in land as a giver of identity and blessing lies a powerful anxiety born of human uprootedness and loss. On the journey to understanding, trees provide touchstones, connections to sacred and classical history—companions leading the way forward.
"This book, with its singular ‘daughter’s voice,’ is a rare and wonderful confluence of vision, family history, and fine writing. It adds a much-needed perspective to the Midwestern experience."
"Gayla Marty has written the elegy for the American family farm we've been waiting for. But this is an elegy too steadfast to be satisfied with regret. The prose burns with a transparent light, documenting a way of life and unearthing a family saga that together achieve the power of history. Part memoir, part social anthropology, Memory of Trees is a moving, spirited inquiry into a lost—or perhaps abandoned—American ideal. Already it feels like a classic."
"Memoirs can be cool in tone when the author seems to step back and view his or her life dispassionately. Not so with Marty, and that's what makes this story so affecting. There have been many books written by Minnesotans about the loss of their farms, but Marty does not hide her emotions. When the family has to sell, her grief is like a howl....Her evocation of the day everything is auctioned, including harnesses that had been in the family for two generations, is so painful to read you can feel Marty's heartbreak."
"With this book Marty joins the ranks of many wonderful storytellers and memoirists of rural America. Readers may be reminded of Wendell Berry's poetry, Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, Kathleen Norris's Dakota and Mildred Armstrong Kalish's Little Heathens. Marty has Norris's and Berry's spiritual attunement along with some of the zestful documentary voice of Kalish. But Marty also speaks with the voice of a prophet, wailing a lamentation even as she finds solace in trees and in the abiding divine Spirit they represent."
"The most comforting kind of farm memoir—sad, yes, but written with an open heart to the ritual trinity: farm, family and faith."
"Beautifully written—so perfectly crafted that it was difficult to put down after reading the first paragraph."
On leaving—but not entirely—the family farm, from the University of Minnesota Press blog, Feb. 24, 2010
Memory of Trees, The Christian Century, August 24, 2010
Memory of Trees, Rain Taxi, Summer 2010
Memory of Trees, Twin Cities Daily Planet, May 25, 2010
An elegy for the American family farm, Grit, April 26, 2010
Sow and weep, Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul, April 11, 2010
Personal best, St. Paul Pioneer Press, April 4, 2010
Bound to please, CLA Reach, summer 2012
"Memory of Trees" - Trees provide touchstones in daughter's story about farm, by Heidi Clausen, Minnesota Women's Press, October 2013
Trees provide touchstones in daughter's story about farm, by Heidi Clausen, The Country Today, Feb. 13, 2013
Pine County dairy daughter turns past into 'Memory', by Sara Maki, Pine City Pioneer, July 7, 2010
Author pens memoir on Rush City farm home, by Luke Reiter, Isanti County News, May 12, 2010
Dairy farm memoir is part history, part elegy, and a good read, by Jana Peterson, Duluth Budgeteer News, May 11, 2010
Family farm is the stuff of nonfiction, by Amy Goetzman, MinnPost, May 10, 2010
Six questions, Q&A with Jodi Chromey, ed., Minnesota Reads, April 20, 2010
View from the treetops, by Stephanie Ash, Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul, April 10, 2010
Former editor of Brief has written a memoir, by Adam Overland, Brief, April 7, 2010
Preserving the world of childhood, MinnPost, Feb. 15, 2010
Interview with Ray Bowman on Food and Farm, America's Web Radio (AWR) Sandy Springs, GA, September 16, 2011
Interview with Stephanie Wilber Ash on Write on Radio! KFAI Minneapolis/St. Paul, May 13, 2010 (last 20 minutes of the show)
Interview with Lester Shuft on Farm Forum, KDUZ Hutchinson, May 14, 2010 (in the archive for KDUZ Community Affairs Recent Programs)
Interview with Kara Garbe on Weekly Reader, KMSU Mankato/Austin, September 23, 2010