Joan V. Schroeder Solitary Places

ISBN 13: 9780425151570

Solitary Places

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( 9 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780425151570: Solitary Places

After selling a piece of property that is transformed into a garbage dump, Hunter McComb witnesses its devastating affect on his community, while his wife fears her opposition to the dump may destroy their marriage. Reprint.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

This better-than-average debut--about rural citizens in Collier, Va., fighting to close down a dump for out-of-state garbage--works because it tackles personal details and lets the big story take care of itself. The author, herself active in a group opposed to a similar Virginia landfill, uses a slow, soothing tone that sometimes makes it difficult to differentiate between the various first-person narratives. She does have a few impressive tricks up her sleeve, however. One of the narrators, Lucy McComb, is a dead woman who sees and knows all, including the destruction of her property to create the dump after her demise. Another, straight-talking Reba Walker, is elected head of Save Our Mountain Environment and leads the group to Richmond to protest to the state government; she also dresses the residents of the nursing home where she works in Save Our Mountain Environment T-shirts. Her nemesis, Sarah Rose McComb, is married to Lucy McComb's nephew, who sold Lucy's land believing that houses would be built there. Since then he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and Sarah is left running ``a break-even store and a farm that was crumbling around [her] ears.'' The novel has its problems. Sarah never seems a formidable enough opponent for Reba, and several long sections that seem at first like digressions take too long to reveal their significance to the story. But Schroeder renders the details of rural life with a clear, sentiment-free eye, and Reba is a feisty heroine: When a television news magazine reporter comments that she promised to bring back some quilts from Collier, Reba wonders what her chances are of selling the woman an old electric blanket instead. Like an elderly relative telling stories--some great, a few dull--and with a canny subtext. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

In a first novel based on her own experiences in shutting down a landfill operation in Virginia, Schroeder filters the plot through four alternating narrators who tell the story of how a small rural town regains a sense of community. When Reba Walker finds her mother's cemetery marker toppled over by garbage from the dump operating directly across the street, she gets mad; then she starts organizing grassroots support to shut down the operation of the speculators who initially promised to build housing but instead put in a dump. She discovers that most of the garbage is from out of state, primarily from the North, and with Dixie fervor rallies her neighbors, and even some of the local dump workers, to her cause. Mentored by a newspaper columnist from Richmond, Reba learns to tone down her act as she confronts the governor and the state water supervisor and is interviewed by news stations from across the country. Schroeder has drawn an almost perfect portrait of an activist in stubborn, hard-nosed Reba, whose tunnel vision and raw candor animate the town's organizing efforts. Schroeder conveys a complex environmental message with heartfelt prose and winning characters. Joanne Wilkinson

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