Superb book of essays about year-round life in a resort area. Wasserman is a wise observer and writes beautifully and poignantly.
From Publishers Weekly
"Except for the crickets, there is exquisite silence here in the bright weeks after everyone goes home," Wasserman writes in this touching memoir of life as a year-rounder in salty, fog-blown Weweantic, Mass. Her village is on the mainland, across the bay from Cape Cod, "on the wrong side of Buzzard's Bay" a place where "no one thinks themselves above those who collect empties to earn a couple of bucks." Bypassed by an interstate that links the mainland to the Cape, Weweantic still has some summer people and new settlers, who Wasserman makes gentle fun of. They are "The People Who Moved Here by Mistake" the well-to-do city folk from, say, Cambridge, who want to remake the town into a smaller version of that hip, intellectual community. But the recently widowed Wasserman and her friends, like the majority of the townspeople, are poor, making a living as carpenters, house cleaners, grocery baggers and babysitters. Hard times come after the season: some young families spend the winter in a cheap rental cottage unequipped for the squalls that blow across the bay. Despite the hardships, Wasserman, who has told some of these stories on NPR's All Things Considered, doesn't overlook the pleasures of smalltown life. Her inviting descriptions of buying local peaches from a hungover farmer, the fun of block dances and her patriotic feelings as she marches in the Memorial Day parade help her poignant tales serve as metaphors for the life lessons she has learned through bittersweet experience.
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*Starred Review* Midlife memoirs are full of pitfalls: self-pity, self-justification, sentimentality, regret. NPR reporter Wasserman's bracing and utterly unself-conscious collection of very small essays is none of these things. Instead, her stories (some told on NPR's All Things Considered) of her life in a fragile eighteenth-century house in Weweantic, Massachusetts, are refreshing as tea or tart as cranberries. Her existence is put together of small things: the jobs baby-sitting or cleaning or foraging that she and others who live in this resort community year round take to keep going; the omnipresent sorrow of holding close a loved one's memory; the laughter and comfort of knowing your home place and your neighbors. Her language is often startlingly beautiful: "Personal possessions in and of themselves are merely protein in another form, like sunlight to grass to cow to supper." She talks about foster children and the why of making jam, how darkness can be held at bay by the season's first apple pie, about her Irish in-laws' delight in her desire to hear and remember their stories. Her own stories are sharp and sweet, the scent of the sea over flowering beach plums, evanescent but heady and lovely.
Carol Wasserman, a beloved NPR commentator, shares the quirky joys and tribulations of an ordinary fixed little life among fellow Swamp Yankees in a raggedy little tourist town on the Massachusetts coast across from tony Cape Cod.