By Lisa Knopp
Bison Books, Paperback, 9780803211438, 299pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2008
“We must include Knopp among those whom Barry Lopez calls our ‘local geniuses of the American landscape,’” Fran Shaw remarks in the journal Parabola. And, indeed, in this new book, Lisa Knopp’s singular genius burrows deep into that landscape in showing us what it is to know, feel, and inhabit unique yet quintessentially American places. A collection of essays embracing nonfiction from memoir and biography to travel writing and natural history, Interior Places offers a curiously detailed group photograph of the Midwest’s interior landscape. Here is an essay about the origin, history, and influence of corn. Here we find an exploration of a childhood meeting with Frederick Leopold, youngest brother of the great naturalist Aldo. Here also are a chronicle of the 146-year alliance between Burlington, Iowa, and the Burlington Route (later the CB&O, the BN, and finally, the BNSF) and a pilgrimage to Amelia Earhart’s Kansas hometown. Whether writing about the lives of two of P. T. Barnum’s giants or the “secret” nuclear weapons plant in southeastern Iowa, about hunger in Lincoln, Nebraska, or bird banding on the Platte River, Knopp captures the inner character of the Midwest as Nature dictates it, people live it, and history reveals it.
“[A] smart sequel to Knopp’s earlier study, The Nature of Home. . . . Rapt observer, botanist, birder and chronicler of the human condition, Knopp is also, in the best literary tradition, a wanderer of lingering curiosity. . . . Elegiac, soulful and discerning.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Although Knopp focuses on the Midwest, her writing should interest readers who desire to live a life informed by the flora, fauna, geology, and history of the region where they reside."—Lisa Woolley, Bloomsbury Review
"In these engagingly written pieces Knopp describes the people and places of Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, and, in one essay on the famous flyer Amelia Earhart, Atchison, Kansas. Her recounting of a visit to the aviatrix''s birthplace, interspersed with town history and an account of Earhart''s equal dedication to flying and serving the urban poor (the latter manifest in her work with the settlement house movement of the early twentieth century), demonstrates Knopp''s method of looking closely at geographical spaces as windows upon more interior places."—Kansas History
“Interior Places is a great sample of local nature writing, making it ideal for academic study or for those who want to start reading creative nonfiction.—Ryan Borchers, Omaha World-Herald
"It is always a pleasure to read Lisa Knopp''s prose. Not only does it flow smoothly, but it offers wonderful visual images. This is a book that makes me pause while reading as I mentally make a list of the people to whom I will be giving it as a gift."—Becky Faber, Great Plains Quarterly