The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle
of Nowhere: A Memoir
Press, New York, NY, 2006, 288 pages, softcover or hardcover.
|Debra Marquart receives 2006
Joseph S. Height Award of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society,
from Lewis Marquardt.
See these book reviews for The Horizontal World:
The Horizontal World -- Recent
Collin, Liz, "Leaving Home." North Dakota Humanities Council, On Second Thought, 2009, 36-38
Debra Marquart Speaks and Preforms at Velva Public School Library, 7 March 2009
Gauper, Larry Gauper. "A Quick Trip to Europe." The FM Extra, June 26, Volume 8, Issue 26, 3.
Marquart, Debra. "Refusing Nostalgia: On Geographical Flight and Cultural Amnesia." North Dakota Humanities Council, Winter 10, 14-19.
Palimpesest By Debra Marquart
Review by Edna Boardman
Review by Beth Kephart
Review by John Dominic
Review by Tom Isern
Review by Katy Read
Review by Julia Scheeres
Debra Marquart grew up on a family farm in rural North Dakota -
on land her family had worked for generations. From the earliest
age she knew she wanted out; surely life had more to offer than
this unyielding daily grind, she thought. But she was never able
to abandon it completely. In this distinctive, beautifully written
memoir, she chronicles this process of flight and return-not only
from and to a particular landscape, but to respect and admiration
for her father.
Complex, lyrical, utterly unsentimental, often funny, Marquart's
singular voice offers a deeply intelligent rumination on the meaning
of native ground, on freedom and security, and on the forging of
identity. It brings to mind the very best of those who have written
about the natural world and a sense of place - John McPhee, Wallace
Stegner, and Kathleen Norris among them.
Text from the book jacket:
"North Dakota is best known to outsiders as a spectacularly
cold and inhospitable place that anyone with sense must leave. But
how can a person who is born of such heart-stopping, occasionally
cruel beauty truly escape its singular pull? Though Debra Marquart
would be the first to admit that for a long time her favorite view
of her home state was the one in the rearview mirror, she will also
fiercely defend that land and the rare strength of the people who
stay behind. Rise from Marquart's need to make sense of her struggle
to reconcile such disparate feelings, The Horizontal World
blends autobiography, geography, and mythology as it reveals the
tension between the keepers of the land and those who cut themselves
From the earliest age, Marquart knows she wanted out - out of the
milking barn, out of the nearly empty nest her farmhouse home had
become once her four older siblings moved away, out of the harvests
and the blizzards and the long dusty summer days full of nothing
but hard work. Surely life had more to offer than this unyielding
daily grind. But even after she got good at leaving, she kept coming
back. It is this process of flight - from both the landscape and
the family - and the return that Marquart writes about so exquisitely.
Drawing on the classic literature of the Midwest, as well as land
survey, death certificates, and many other pieces of anecdotal evidence,
Marquart weaves together the meaning of native ground as she ruminates
on the forging of identity. Whether she is writing about her great-grandmother
dying in childbirth, Lawrence Welk's early days, the glaciers that
shaped her back yard, or her father's quiet struggle with heart
disease, Marquart's sense of the absurd and her graceful poeticism
combine to make The Horizontal World a captivating read."
From The Horizontal world
"The day before I left home from college, I took a photograph
of the road leading out of my parents' farm - the long driveway
stretching out to the open wheat fields and the gaint tops of the
cottonwoods reaching up to the sky. The photograph must have been
taken in late afternoon. The shadows are long. The light is cast
in gold and bronze, the sweet color of memory.
The picture of home was one undeveloped frame in my camera, the
first in a succession of images I planned to collect of more interesting
places. I got myself on that road, and I did not wave back. I concentrated
only on flight.
And for a long time, it seemed to me, North Dakota looked best
only when glanced at briefly while adjusting the rearview mirrow."
About the author
Debra Marquart is an associate professor of English in the Creative
Writing Program at Iowa State University. Ms. Marquart's work
has appeared in numerous journals such as North American Review,
Three Penny Review, New Letters, RiverCity,
Crab Orchard Review, Cumberland Poetry Review,
The Sun Magazine, Orion, Southern Poetry Review, and Witness.
A performance poet, Marquart is the author of two poetry collections:
Everything’s a Verb (New Rivers Press, 1995) and
From Sweetness (Pearl Editions, 2002).
In the seventies and eighties, Marquart was a touring road musician
with rock and heavy metal bands. Her collection of short stories,
The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories (New Rivers Press,
2001) draws from her experiences as a female road musician.
Marquart continues to perform with a jazz-poetry rhythm & blues
project, The Bone People, with whom she released two CDs in 1996:
Orange Parade (acoustic rock); and A Regular Dervish
Marquart’s work has received numerous awards and commendations,
including the John Guyon Nonfiction Award (Crab Orchard Review),
the Mid-American Review Nonfiction Award, The Headwater’s
Prize from New Rivers Press, the Minnesota Voices Award, the Pearl
Poetry Award (Pearl Editions), the Shelby Foote Prize for the Essay
from the Faulkner Society, and a Pushcart Prize.
Marquart’s biomythography/memoir, The Horizontal World:
Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, was published from
Counterpoint Books in 2006. She is currently at work on a
novel, set in Greece, titled The Olive Harvest.
Comments about the book
|“Here is the truth: a life deeply regarded. I
read this book with fascination, page after page.”
—Kent Haruf, author of Plainsong
and The Tie That Binds
| “The Horizontal World is
as full of grit and grace as the North Dakota farmland it portrays.
Debra Marquart writes of home and how we carry it with us no
matter the miles and years we travel. If you dare think that
nothing really happens out there in the middle of nowhere, read
this gorgeous book about a family and their land, about the
girl who strained against both and finally left. From the first
words, you’ll feel a taproot set down in your heart, one
that won’t let go because the story is as old as the land
itself. You know the one--that story of mothers and fathers
and daughters and sons, that rough and tender story of the ties
—Lee Martin, author of From Our House and
The Bright Forever
|From the first word, Marquart (The Hunger
Bone) makes clear that she's got some reckoning to do with
her home place, damning horny farmboys and the "seeds"
they plant in the first paragraph of this rich memoir of growing
up on a North Dakota farm. She got out as soon as she could,
looking back only years later when her father's death pulls
her home. Marquart explores her childhood as a victim of endless
chores (wryly noting the word chores is "always plural")
and isolation that was unbearable, especially for a contact-hungry
teen. Everything Marquart touches gains light and color, from
the monotony of the work and the tactics she developed to avoid
it to the land itself and the untold price her foremothers paid
to settle it. All of her narrative's wanderlust, however, brings
her back to her father, sowing insight into his respect for
her pursuit of a different life and her growing connection to
how he lived his.
Debra Marquart autographing her book at the North
Dakota Library Association Convention, Fargo, North Dakota, September,
Debra Marquart, autographing her book.
Debra Marquart signing book for Marlene
Ripplinger, Public Library, Harvey, ND.
Debra Marquart and Iris Dockter Swedlund,
Public/School Library, Velva, ND.
Debra Marquart autographing book for
Jan Daley, executive director, North Dakota Humanities Council,