Another tribute to Midwestern small-town life by an ex-urban/suburbanite--with some of the usual self-congratulatory...



Another tribute to Midwestern small-town life by an ex-urban/suburbanite--with some of the usual self-congratulatory platitudes but also quite a few entertaining by-ways. Eberle's town is Galena, Ill. (pop. 3,778), and she follows a library/artifact route to little Galena's big-time past: its booming 19th-century mines, supplying 83 percent of the nation's lead (once used locally as currency); the steamboat traffic up the Galena River from the Mississippi, along with excursion boats filled with tourists; and one unusually illustrious native son who once helped manage the family leather store-- U. S. Grant (Galena staged a post-election torchlight parade of thousands). Eberle's serendipitous search for a name printed on an old map of their farm leads to criss-crossing treks through old documents and newspapers--a genealogy bull's delight. She also, with amiable neutrality, dips into the muddle of town politics--when an energetic, well-meaning newcomer tries to renovate the deteriorating downtown (holding off the threat of an outside shopping mall), gets elected mayor, but loses the vote for his renewal plan by a whopping margin! After all, as a town official puts it, ""Galena has never gotten along with itself. . . . It's a place of rugged individualists""--so there's a strong anti-zoning faction, heel-dragging on improvements, and two minds (at least) about tourism. And, along with these paradoxes, are the more predictable angles: the personal excitements of the move from Evanston with husband and four children; pleasures and pains of coping with a small farm and dilapidated house (particularly that first freezing winter); the changed outlook of teen-agers who have ""real work"" to do; auctions and get-togethers; and, most of all, the friendships which become ""attachments."" Some lolling generalizations, then, but also some agreeable particulars.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981