Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir

W. W. Norton & Company
3
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"Infinitely moving and powerful, just dead-on right, and absolutely original." —Joan Didion

Since its publication in 1996, Holy Land has become an American classic. In "quick, translucent prose" (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times) that is at once lyrical and unsentimental, D. J. Waldie recounts growing up in Lakewood, California, a prototypical post-World War II suburb. Laid out in 316 sections as carefully measured as a grid of tract houses, Holy Land is by turns touching, eerie, funny, and encyclopedic in its handling of what was gained and lost when thousands of blue-collar families were thrown together in the suburbs of the 1950s. An intensely realized and wholly original memoir about the way in which a place can shape a life, Holy Land is ultimately about the resonance of choices—how wide a street should be, what to name a park—and the hopes that are realized in the habits of everyday life.

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About the author

D. J. Waldie still lives in the tract house he writes about. He has received a Whiting Writers Award and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, among other honors.

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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Apr 17, 2005
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9780393078565
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
History / United States / 20th Century
History / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)
Social Science / Regional Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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It's fall, 1959, and Homer "Sonny" Hickam and his fellow Rocket Boys are in their senior year at Big Creek High, launching handbuilt rockets that soar thousands of feet into the West Virginia sky. But in a season traditionally marked by celebrations of the spirit, Coalwood finds itself at a painful crossroads.

The strains can be felt within the Hickam home, where a beleaguered HomerSr. is resorting to a daring but risky plan to keep the mine alive, and his wife Elsie is feeling increasingly isolated from both her family and the townspeople. And Sonny, despite a blossoming relationship with a local girl whose dreams are as big as his, finds his own mood repeatedly darkened by an unexplainable sadness.

Eager to rally the town's spirits and make her son's final holiday season at home a memorable one, Elsie enlists Sonny and the Rocket Boys' aid in making the Coalwood Christmas Pageant the best ever. But trouble at the mine and the arrival of a beautiful young outsider threaten to tear the community apart when it most needs to come together. And when disaster strikes at home, and Elsie's beloved pet squirrel escapes under his watch, Sonny realizes that helping his town and redeeming himself in his mother's eyes may be a bigger-and more rewarding-challenge than he has ever faced.

The result is pure storytelling magic- a tale of small-town parades and big-hearted preachers, the timeless love of families and unforgettable adventures of boyhood friends-that could only come from the man who brought the world Rocket Boys


From the Hardcover edition.
A daring, firsthand, and utterly-unscripted account of crisis in America, from Ferguson to Flint to Cliven Bundy's ranch to Donald Trump's unstoppable campaign for President--at every turn, Pulitzer-prize winner and bestselling author of Detroit: An American Autopsy, Charlie LeDuff was there

In the Fall of 2013, long before any sane person had seriously considered the possibility of a Trump presidency, Charlie LeDuff sat in the office of then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, and made a simple but prophetic claim: The whole country is bankrupt and on high boil. It’s a shitshow out there. No one in the bubbles of Washington, DC., New York, or Los Angles was talking about it--least of all the media. LeDuff wanted to go to the heart of the country to report what was really going on. Ailes baulked. Could the hard-living and straight-shooting LeDuff be controlled? But, then, perhaps on a whim, he agreed. And so LeDuff set out to record a TV series called, "The Americans," and, along the way, ended up bearing witness to the ever-quickening unraveling of The American Dream.

For three years, LeDuff travelled the width and breadth of the country with his team of production irregulars, ending up on the Mexican border crossing the Rio Grande on a yellow rubber kayak alongside undocumented immigrants; in the middle of Ferguson as the city burned; and watching the children of Flint get sick from undrinkable water. Racial, political, social, and economic tensions were escalating by the day. The inexorable effects of technological change and globalization were being felt more and more acutely, at the same time as wages stagnated and the price of housing, education, and healthcare went through the roof. The American people felt defeated and abandoned by their politicians, and those politicians seemed incapable of rising to the occasion. The old way of life was slipping away, replaced only by social media, part-time work, and opioid addiction.

Sh*tshow! is that true, tragic, and distinctively American story, told from the parts of the country hurting the most. A soul-baring, irreverent, and iconoclastic writer, LeDuff speaks the language of everyday Americans, and is unafraid of getting his hands dirty. He scrambles the tired-old political, social, and racial categories, taking no sides--or prisoners. Old-school, gonzo-style reporting, this is both a necessary confrontation with the darkest parts of the American psyche and a desperately-needed reminder of the country's best instincts.
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