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Letters from the Country

1999
Author:

Carol Bly

Letters from the Country

An enchanting exploration of the place of a small town in a big world.

Letters from the Country, one of Bly’s best-known and best-loved books, is a collection of essays as fresh today as when they were originally published in Minnesota Monthly. This contemporary classic welcomes readers to the small town of Madison, Minnesota (population 2,242), a rural community struggling to place itself in the new American landscape.

No one in this country writes of rural life with more understanding, love, and anger than Carol Bly. To know what life in the farmlands and towns in the United States feels like, this book is essential.

Thomas McGrath

Letters from the Country, one of Bly’s best-known and best-loved books, is a collection of essays as fresh today as when they were originally published in Minnesota Monthly. This contemporary classic welcomes readers to the small town of Madison, Minnesota (population 2,242), a rural community struggling to place itself in the new American landscape.

Letters from the Country

Carol Bly teaches ethics at the University of Minnesota, where she is the 1998-99 Edelstein-Keller Author of Distinction. She is the author of The Passionate, Accurate Story (1990), The Tomcat’s Wife and Other Stories (1991), Changing the Bully Who Rules the World (1996), and Backbone (1985).

Letters from the Country

These now-classic essays examine life in the small towns and farmland of rural Minnesota. Bly is a maverick who has laid claim to a rigorous intellectual territory outside the conventional urban mainstream. She refuses to mock her subjects-the ‘lost Swedes’ of small-town USA. In the hands of many popular writers, Bly’s interests—ethics, psychology, and sociology—tend to result in sloppy or simplistic thinking that reduces life to platitudes, jokes, or catechisms. Bly is different. She thrives on complexity. Bly is critical of many aspects of rural life, such as neighbors’ disinclination to speak plainly or disagree. But she writes with exacting logic, she points a moral direction for the countryside.

Minnesota Monthly

No one in this country writes of rural life with more understanding, love, and anger than Carol Bly. To know what life in the farmlands and towns in the United States feels like, this book is essential.

Thomas McGrath

Carol Bly cares passionately about the quality of life and has the wit to write her criticisms without a hint of condescension. These are well-crafted essays in which vigor combines with good humor.

Newsweek

Short and sweet. An absolute gem of modern rural Americana.

Publishers Weekly

A spirited and inspiring book. A very readable mixture of sociology, secular sermons, and good stories.

New York Times Book Review

If Bly is not quite the Joan Didion of Duluth and surrounding areas, it is because her concerns are much more crucial.

Jackson Daily News