March 3, 2014
Five Books: An Indiana Odyssey

FiveBooksIndianaThis month, we continue our series of selections from the Novel Conversations collection with a look at some books about Hoosiers and the Hoosier State.

Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, edited by Tom Watson & Jim McGarrah – This anthology of short pieces is a 185-page search for the key to the state, or, as Scott Russell Sanders writes about southern Indiana quarries, “Doorways into the Depths.” The essays and memoirs are unique and personal, as each of 24 writers tries to explain Hoosierdom in his or her own way.

Invincible, Indiana by Nate Dunlevy – As you read this post, 403 teams are competing in the sectionals of the 104th Annual IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament. If you didn’t know that, you may need to turn in your Hoosier membership card and move (back) to New Jersey, San Francisco, etc. However, if you wish to understand the essence of Hoosier Hysteria, then read Nate Dunlevy’s hysterically funny tribute to this most beloved sport.

The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West – Author Jessamyn West was born in Vernon, Indiana, and she wrote this classic novel about a nineteenth-century family of Quakers living in the area. A peaceful people, these Friends faced a crisis when Morgan’s Raid came near their town, but the book also has its lighthearted moments. The 1956 movie starred Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire.

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta – This modern day ghost story captures the mystical aura of West Baden, Indiana, whose newly restored hotel once amazed tycoons, gangsters, movie stars and locals with its magnificent dome. You can almost smell the Pluto Water in this suspenseful tale of “Midwestern Gothic.”

Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary by Ray E. Boomhower – Ray Boomhower has written nine or ten biographies of famous Hoosiers, but this book revolves around an outsider on the Indiana political scene. Boomhower’s thorough research and storytelling skills give the reader an insider’s view of the action and the part Indiana played during that fateful year in American history.

This post was written by Nancy Conner, director of grants at Indiana Humanities and coordinator of Novel Conversations.

 

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