STATES OF MIND by Jonathan Yardley


A Personal Journey Through the Mid-Atlantic
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 As much personal narrative as travelogue, Yardley's exploration of his native ground has many of the pleasures of Our Kind of People, his 1989 re-creation of his family history: a leisurely and formal prose style, an eye for telling detail, and a strong sense of how the past lurks beneath the surface of the present. A magazine assignment started Yardley thinking about the region in which he has spent most of his life--a territory that runs along the Atlantic coast from Cape Hatteras to New Jersey, and inland to Pittsburgh and the West Virginia hills, and that includes several leading cities as well as rural areas that have changed little since his youth. Here, he records his journeys in search of the region's elusive essence. More subjective than Joseph Thorndike's The Coast (p. 53), which covered much of the same territory, Yardley's odyssey is in many ways one of self-discovery. Among his destinations are Yardley, Pennsylvania, named after his family; the Philadelphia church where his grandparents are buried; Chapel Hill, for his college reunion; his sister's West Virginia farm; the Washington Post newsroom; the Outer Banks resort where he vacations; and Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, for the final home game of his beloved Orioles. Yardley records his speeding tickets in North Carolina; pontificates on the merits of Piedmont and lowland barbecues; tours the Utz potato-chip factory and the Rolling Rock brewery; gripes about motel chains, tour guides, and theme parks; twits the WASP aristocracy; and notes changes in race relations since his youth. In the end, a real sense of the region- -both its roots and its evolution under the pressure of marketing and mass media--comes through. Yardley is a bit too fond of playing the curmudgeon and of repeating favorite lines--such as his having spent half his life on certain stretches of I-95 in Delaware--but there's much fine writing here, and some surprises as well.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-394-58911-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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