In this graceful collection, Howard Mansfield looks anew at the New England region he’s called home for over twenty years. He studies the beautiful stonework of granite bridges with a local expert; contemplates the deserted second and third storeys of the old mercantile buildings that populate New England’s towns and cities; and considers the cemeteries and roadside shrines that punctuate the landscape. Each exploratory adventure is written with Mansfield’s typical wit and passion in prose so smooth that the deeper questions he raises appear with startling poignancy. How do our local landmarks narrate the past? What is history? Should we-can we-preserve its artifacts for the future? A kind of elegy for the built environment and dying customs of New England life, these essays will challenge anyone’s notions of home, history, and the future that jeopardizes both.
The Bones of the Earth
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"In witty essays that recall both Thoreau's Walden and Roland Barthes' Mythologies, Mansfield ruminates on American history by unpacking our connection to the landscape." —Utne Magazine
HOWARD MANSFIELD is the author of numerous books, including Skylark, Cosmopolis, and In the Memory House, praised as “wise and beautiful” by the New York Times Book Review. His essays and articles on history and architecture have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Doubletake, Orion, and Newsday, among others. He lives in Hancock, New Hampshire, with his wife, writer Sy Montgomery.
“Several essays in The Bones of the Earth… belong in an anthology as prose models illustrating the technique of proceeding from the particular to the universal. Textbook publishers, take note.” —World Literature Today
“In witty essays that recall both Thoreau’s Walden and Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, Mansfield ruminates on American history by unpacking our connection to the landscape.” —Utne Magazine
“[C]onnoisseurs of seeing the world in an oyster, or even a small state, will savor Mansfield’s style.” —Booklist
“Howard Mansfield has never written an uninteresting or dull sentence. All of his books are emotionally and intellectually nourishing. He is something like a cultural psychologist along with being a first-class cultural historian. He is humane, witty, bright-minded, and rigorously intelligent.” —Guy Davenport, author of The Death of Picasso