Wild Blueberries (Paperback)
Nuns, Rabbits & Discovery in Rural Michigan
O'Brien & Whitaker, Publishers, 9780966843187, 226pp.
Publication Date: May 20, 2019
Great Lakes Great Reads Award Finalist. In this beautifully written and illustrated collection of generous, poignant and humorous stories, Peter Damm recalls the joys of fishing on a northern lake, the rigors and confusion of childhood, or feasting on blueberries in autumn. These vignettes of growing up in small town rural Michigan, and a closely observed portrait of mid-century America are not just pretty postcards. Damm's family experienced difficulty, alcoholism and loss, and he writes with a survivor's compassion. These are tales for all the senses, held in place by strands of memory alternately steel and gold.
"Peter Damm's memoir, Wild Blueberries, is a joy to read. What emerges is a lyrical, rich and complex account of growing up in rural Michigan. The story of his Catholic coming of age is skeptical in tone, at times amusing, and yet we see how a sheltering tradition can comfort and unify. I read Wild Blueberries in two sittings, held by its directness and simplicity. It was a pleasure to be in the hands of an intelligent and generous author." Leo Litwak--Guggenheim Fellow, winner of the Jewish National Book Award and the 1990 O. Henry Awards 1st Prize
"In Wild Blueberries Peter Damm tenderly sketches out the delights and tribulations of a seemingly quiet Midwestern childhood. Wrestling with the riddles of his Catholic inheritance, we hear the questions of a smart, sensitive young man trying to puzzle out the mysteries of sin, sex, and spirit, and make sense of the adult world. There is a gentleness and humor to Damm's stories that invites the reader to reflect on their own journey to maturity." J. Ruth Gendler--Writer, artist, teacher. Author of The Book of Qualities, Changing Light and Notes on the Need for Beauty
"Peter Damm's stories about growing up in Michigan made me laugh aloud, cry, and occasionally wince when they hit too close to home. He infuses his stories with a deeply felt sense of place. The lakes and forests of his Michigan youth take on the presence of characters in his narrative. This is a lovely collection, well conceived and beautifully told. The clean economy of the language and its cadences possess a quality that is almost poetic. Wild Blueberries is a gem of a book." William Rodarmor--Award-winning journalist and translator
"Like a brisk and invigorating breeze or an oven-warmed dessert, Wild Blueberries reminded me of the best of a child's sensibility: daring mischief and a fabulous imagination, openness to sensual experience, commitment to understanding adult mysteries, sensitivity to siblings' and parents' suffering. This book is a carefully crafted, emotionally intelligent piece of literature. I literally treasured every page of Peter Damm's memoir. I shall keep it close by for rereading."
"What a beautiful and deeply moving book. From the first page to the last, I was captured by how these seemingly ordinary events of childhood and adulthood became transformed into extraordinary, magical tales of wonder and sometimes bittersweet loss. Written lovingly with a tender respect for the innocence of childhood and one's own coming of age, as well as a wry and wicked sense of humor, the book opened my heart and made me both laugh and well-up with tears. What a pure pleasure to read Wild Blueberries."
"Reading this book made me feel like I was sitting outside on a porch during a summer evening, listening to a master storyteller spin his yarns. You get caught up in the beauty, or the humor, or the poignancy, or the honesty of the stories. I was captivated by this book."