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“A memoir with the fierce narrative force of an eastern Montana blizzard, rich in story and character, filled with the bone-chilling details of Blunt’s childhood. She writes without bitterness, with an abiding love of the land and the work and her family and friends that she finally left behind, at great sacrifice, to begin to write. This is a magnificent achievement, a book for the ages. I’ve never read anything that compares with it.”
—James Crumley, author of The Last Good Kiss
Born into a third generation of Montana homesteaders, Judy Blunt learned early how to “rope and ride and jockey a John Deere,” but also to “bake bread and can vegetables and reserve my opinion when the men were talking.” The lessons carried her through thirty-six-hour blizzards, devastating prairie fires and a period of extreme isolation that once threatened the life of her infant daughter. But though she strengthened her survival skills in what was—and is—essentially a man’s world, Blunt’s story is ultimately that of a woman who must redefine herself in order to stay in the place she loves.
Breaking Clean is at once informed by the myths of the West and powerful enough to break them down. Against formidable odds, Blunt has found a voice original enough to be called classic.
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"Staunch and unblinking. . . . If there is a trace of sentimentality [in Breaking Clean] I couldn't find it, which is why this book is such a valuable addition to the literature of place and the literature of passage."
–Bill McKibben, The Washington Post
"[Judy Blunt] has turned the memories of her childhood and young adulthood into a beautifully written memoir that is a meditation on how land and her life will always be intertwined ."
–Miriam Wolf, The San Francisco Chronicle
"In Breaking Clean, Blunt strikes a delightfully tense, unsteady balance and . . . like an accomplished bucking bronco rider . . . masterfully maintains it throughout a wild-ride of a memoir."
–Los Angeles Times
"Riveting . . . In its precise, arresting descriptions of a working farm and its careful re-creation of how Blunt ultimately came to break free, this masterful debut is utterly strange, suspenseful and surprising."
–Time Out New York
"[An] astonishing literary debut, a dramatic and heartbreaking memoir."
"Hopefully, Blunt will keep honing her keen and poetic awareness, steely candor, and commanding storytelling skills and continue telling the true story of women in the West."
"City slickers take heed: here's the real lowdown on the ranching life–from a woman's perspective. Judy blunt's new memoir Breaking Clean debunks the romance surrounding the American West's most archetypal way of life."
"With a voice so authentic she seems to have grown up out of the ground itself, Judy Blunt gives us the true West, swept clear of the long haze of myth. Breaking Clean is a stunner, an incredible story told by a writer of unbelievable skill."
–Pete Fromm, author of Indian Creek Chronicles
"One's own life into words is perhaps the most daunting geography a writer ever faces. But swooping into moments of her own past as if by sorcery, Judy Blunt in these harrowing pages of life as a young ranch wife on the Montana Highline memorably comes to terms with an old and hard horizon."
–Ivan Doig, author of This House of Sky
"Judy Blunt lived in a beloved country among beloved people. She grew up knowing blizzards and good horses, working cattle all day and then getting dinner on the table, impassable roads to town and babies with raging fevers–a resolute country girl who became a ranch wife on the shortgrass plains of Montana. And she tells of leaving, the price of insisting on her right to fashion her own life. Breaking Clean is vivid and compelling, a classical American memoir."
–William Kittredge, author of The Nature of Generosity
"A lover of land in a land almost unlivable, a natural matriarch born and bred to patriarchy, a seer of complex truths among admirers of terse adages, Judy Blunt seems, at a glance, a classic misfit. But in this miracle of memoir she transcends the misfit's rancor to tell a story heroic, from beginning to end, for its perfect pitch. Breaking Clean is not mercilessly but mercifully honest. Doing what it must to free its stunning song, it leaves the culture, the land, and even the husband it rejects their dignity. It is a masterpiece."
–David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K
"Breaking Clean is a remarkable debut. Judy Blunt has the makings of greatness. She has all the potential of becoming a great American writer. I am awed by her prose as much as I am by the story it tells."
–Rick DeMarinis, author of A Clod of Wayward Marl
"Breaking Clean is a memoir so pure and clean in its emotional honesty that one feels he has opened a secret passageway into the author's very soul. Wonderfully realized, brilliantly written, this book establishes Judy Blunt as one of our finest writers, regardless of genre."
–James Welch, author of The Heartsong of Charging Elk
"Amazing. [Judy Blunt] has written a memoir with the fierce narrative force of an eastern Montana blizzard, rich in story and character, filled with the bone-chilling details of her childhood . . . But Judy Blunt writes without bitterness, with an abiding love of the land and the work and her family and friends that she finally left behind, at great sacrifice, to begin to write. This is a magnificent achievement, a book for the ages. I've never read anything that compares with it."
–James Crumley, author of The Last Good Kiss
"Beautifully written . . . A lyrical account of [Judy Blunt's] struggle to escape the isolation and restriction of ranch life while, at the same time, honoring the ways in which such a far-flung community can come together in times of crisis and celebration. . . . Heartbreaking, mesmerizing, dramatic, crafted with a keen eye toward detail and a poet's sense of language, this memoir breaks new ground and brings a fresh perspective to the myth of rugged individualism that has for so long defined the rural West. Blunt's contribution to the literature of the West is enormous, but her contribution to the genre of memoir is even greater."
–Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
"Here is the rare memoir that soars beyond the writer's conditions. In radiant prose, Judy Blunt creates a portrait of her years in the farthest, hardest reaches of ranchland Montana, and puts those details in the service of a very large question: What does it mean to live your own life? . . . This is a beautiful, tough, haunting book. I read it in one sitting, closed my eyes, and thought about it for a very long time."
–Deirdre McNamer, author of My Russian
"Elegantly written and achingly honest, Judy Blunt's memoir details the dark side of twentieth century ranch life, as well as its occasional sunlit passages. Breaking Clean will be read in years to come as a documentary and as a fine literary achievement."
–Mary Clearman Blew, author of Balsamroot
"[Blunt] writes without remorse, without flinching, striking matches off the scuffed soles of her feelings. When a writer can do that–make it real and make it matter–the world comes almost painfully alive."
–National Geographic Adventure
"Blunt's writing offers the flip side of the West–a land of blinding blizzards, uncontrolled fires, loveless marriages and rampant sexism. . . . There is little about it that doesn't ring completely true."
"In this world without TV or books, with mail once a week at best, "a good story rose to the surface of conversation like heavy cream." Blunt's own story is so rich and genuine, readers will clean their plates and ask for seconds."
"No biographical sketch of Blunt can convey the depth of this literary achievement. Each of the 13 sections here stands on its own: substantial, powerful segments of writing organized around some larger theme."
Judy Blunt spent more than thirty years on wheat and cattle ranches in northeastern Montana, before leaving in 1986 to attend the University of Montana. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of a Jacob K. Javits Graduate Fellowship and a Montana Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship. Breaking Clean was awarded a 1997 PEN/Jerard Fund Award for a work in progress, as well as a 2001 Whiting Writers’ Award. She lives in Missoula, Montana.
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Book Description Knopf, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1. Seller Inventory # DADAX0375401318
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