By the Iowa Sea by Joe Blair
A Memoir

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Heralding the arrival of an original American voice, By the Iowa Sea is a wrenching, unsentimental account of the heartbreaks and ecstasies of marriage, fatherhood, and small-town Midwestern life.

After his first cross-country motorcycle trip, Joe Blair believed he had discovered his calling: he would travel; he would never cave in to convention; he would never settle down. Fifteen years later, he finds himself living in Iowa, working as an air-conditioning repairman and spending his free time cleaning gutters, taxiing his children, and contemplating marital infidelity. When the Iowa River floods, transforming the familiar streets of his small town into a terrible and beautiful sea, Joe begins to question the path that led him to this place.

Exquisitely observed and lyrically recounted, this is a compelling and often humorous account of an ordinary man’s struggle to live an extraordinary life.

About Joe Blair

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Joe Blair is a pipefitter who lives in Coralville, Iowa, with his wife and four children. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Iowa Review.
Published March 6, 2012 by Scribner. 306 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Parenting & Relationships, Self Help. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Blair’s existence had settled into a daily rut, and he believed that only “an act of great faith or courage [would] change [his] circumstances when [his] life [was] nothing but a repetition.” Every day was centered on work and the constant struggle to help his autistic son maneuver through his life.

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Publishers Weekly

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Blair, a pipe fitter and freelance writer living in Iowa, writes that he once prayed to God at age 10 to send him his challenge, but never did he think there would be so many of them, with a faltering marriage and four children, one of them autistic.

Oct 24 2011 | Read Full Review of By the Iowa Sea: A Memoir

Review (Barnes & Noble)

In vivid, muscular prose, Blair owns up to his mislaid plans and impulsive choices in his ultimately redemptive story, By the Iowa Sea, a Spring 2012 selection of the Discover Great New Writers program.

Mar 13 2012 | Read Full Review of By the Iowa Sea: A Memoir

It's a place that will raise your energy, lower your blood pressure and occasionally make you laugh—in short, a place of possibility.

Mar 12 2012 | Read Full Review of By the Iowa Sea: A Memoir

W. 11th & Bluff

I was sort of excited when I first heard about Joe Blair's By the Iowa Sea, a memoir written by a middle-aged, working-class Iowa transplant who feels trapped by his wife, kids, house, and job.

Apr 24 2012 | Read Full Review of By the Iowa Sea: A Memoir

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