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NOT JUST ANY LAND: A PERSONAL AND LITERARY JOURNEY INTO THE AMERICAN GRASSLANDS

U. of Nebraska Press, 2004; Paperback, Bison Books

Though he’d lived in Iowa all his life, the allure of the prairie had somehow eluded John Price—until, after a catastrophic flood, a brief glimpse of native wildlife suddenly brought his surroundings home to him.  Not Just Any Land is a memoir of Price’s rediscovery of his place in the American landscape and of his search for a new relationship to the life of the prairie—that once immense and beautiful wilderness of grass now so depleted and damaged as to text even the deepest faith. Price’s journey toward a conscious commitment to place takes him to some of America’s largest remaining grasslands and brings him face to face with a troubling, but also hopeful, personal and environmental legacy.  It also leads him through the region’s literature and into conversations with contemporary nature writers—Linda Hasselstrom, Dan O’Brien, William Least Heat-Moon, and Mary Swander—who have devoted themselves to living in, writing about, and restoring the grasslands.  Among these authors, Price observes how a commitment to the land can spring from diverse sources: the generational weight of a family ranch, the rites of wildlife preservation, the “deep maps” of ancestral memory, and the imperatives of a body inflicted with environmental illness. The resulting narrative is an innovative blend of memoir, nature writing, and literary criticism that bears witness to the essential bonds between spirit, art, and earth.

 
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PRAISE FOR

NOT JUST ANY LAND

“John Price finds his way into the heart of the grasslands that our ancestors called the great inland sea.  Riding and listening and reading along with him, we learn not only about the prairie, we also learn how to be at home in our own place.” –Scott Russell Sanders, author of Hunting for Hope


“Price’s considerable wisdom and poetic vision spring from both the prairie and great prairie books. With nature as his compass and literature as his map, he conducts us on a powerful journey not just in the American grasslands, but in understanding the relationship between our identity and the places that blood and history define for us as home”—Julene Bair, author of The Ogallala Road: A Story of Love, Family, and the Fight to Keep the Great Plains from Running Dry


“Price gives us moments of genuine, self-deprecating humor, which, in his hands, is also wisdom.” –Christopher Cokinos, author of Hope Is the Thing with Feathers:  A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds

“A thoughtful and very readable contribution to the ongoing discussion about regionalism and the ethical responsibilities of regional and environmental writers.” –Western American Literature


“[Price’s] book offers valuable ecocriticism, vivid portraits of writers, and a compelling account of Price’s learning what it means for him to be ‘native to place’”—Walter Isle, Great Plains Quarterly


“Price is a gifted writer….His journey leaves him transformed as it may well transform the reader.”—Booklist


“Price seamlessly combines several literary modes….Price shows a talent for asking the right questions and for listening carefully and critically to his subjects.” --Choice