A Plea (In Place)
One day, Jesse Donaldson wakes up in Portland, Oregon, and asks his wife to uproot their life together and move to his native Kentucky. As he searches for the reason behind this sudden urge, Donaldson examines both the place where he was born and the life he’s building.
The result is a hybrid—part memoir, part meditation on nostalgia, part catalog of Kentucky history and myth. Organized according to Kentucky geography, with one passage for each of the commonwealth’s 120 counties, On Homesickness examines whether we can ever return to the places we’ve called home.
Praise For On Homesickness: A Plea (In Place)…
—Silas House, author of Clay’s Quilt, The Coal Tattoo, and Eli the Good
"On Homesickness is a masterful meditation on nostalgia, founded in the tender device of riffs on the 120 counties of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. For this Kentucky native the device is so obvious that it borders on genius, because what is genius but incarnating in art the beauty in the details everyone else has taken for granted? My first thought on opening it was: Why didn’t I think of that?—a sure sign the author is onto something sweet. The riffs are lyrical, poignant, evocative—they call to mind Vladimir Nabokov, our high priest of nostalgia. Everyone who has left home, any home, anywhere, will want to read these, for a sobering assessment of why you left—along with all those who remained, for an equally rich assessment of the price of staying put."
Fenton Johnson, author of The Man Who Loved Birds
"In his ambitious and elegant long essay, Jesse Wilcox Donaldson, modern day voyager, passionately wrestles with the question of home: where is home, how is a home imagined, why do we leave, and how might we (do we want to?) return. Donaldson sets out to root himself far from his origins, and finds himself beckoned back, in surprising and unsettling ways. At turns strict and indulgent, bold and resigned, he fearlessly questions the conventional terms of nostalgia, and finds it to be both a constructed fantasy, and as sharply real as Kentucky bluegrass. Certainties emerge from such rigorous internal voyaging: love roots us in. Children root us in. Places in our past will hold out their hands in temptation and reproach, in friendship and with patience while we find our way back—if we’re lucky enough to hail from land that loves us, and that kindled our deepest longings."
Lia Purpura, author of Rough Likeness
"A celebration of everything Kentucky . . . Ardent and alluring."
"On Homesickness is both an advertisement for Donaldson’s abilities as a writer and the lyric essay as a form. The short, dense bursts of intricate writing in On Homesickness make for a collection of impressions, of short stories about Daniel Boone and the fauna of Kentucky, with the overarching narrative of Donaldson’s growing love for his family threaded throughout."
Vandalia Press, 9781946684004, 252pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 2017