I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place by Howard Norman

88%

5 Critic Reviews

“I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place” succeeds as memoir because Norman’s outward focus on the people and incidents that have filled his life evokes strong and unexpected emotions in its reader.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

“The events of a single episode of Howard Norman’s superb memoir are both on the edge of chaos and gathered superbly into coherent meaning . . . A wise, riskily written, beautiful book.” — Michael Ondaatje

Howard Norman’s spellbinding memoir begins with a portrait, both harrowing and hilarious, of a Midwest boyhood summer working in a bookmobile, in the shadow of a grifter father and under the erotic tutelage of his brother’s girlfriend. His life story continues in places as far-flung as the Arctic, where he spends part of a decade as a translator of Inuit tales—including the story of a soapstone carver turned into a goose whose migration-time lament is “I hate to leave this beautiful place”—and in his beloved Point Reyes, California, as a student of birds. Years later, in Washington, D.C., an act of deeply felt violence occurs in the form of a murder-suicide when Norman and his wife loan their home to a poet and her young son. In Norman’s hands, life’s arresting strangeness is made into a profound, creative, and redemptive story.

“Uses the tight focus of geography to describe five unsettling periods of his life, each separated by time and subtle shifts in his narrative voice . . . The originality of his telling here is as surprising as ever.” — Washington Post

“These stories almost seem like tall tales themselves, but Norman renders them with a journalistic attention to detail. Amidst these bizarre experiences, he finds solace through the places he’s lived and their quirky inhabitants, human and avian.” — The New Yorker
 

About Howard Norman

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Howard Norman is also a National Book Award finalist for The Northern Lights. His other works include The Museum Guard, The Chauffeur, a collection of stories, and The Haunting of L., his most recent novel. He received a Lannan Award in fiction. He resides in Vermont and Washington D.C.
 
Published July 9, 2013 by Mariner Books. 210 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place
All: 5 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Apr 07 2013

A bracing, no-nonsense memoir, infused with fresh takes on love, death and human nature.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jun 17 2013

In this luminous memoir, novelist Norman (The Bird Artist) recalls moments of “arresting strangeness,” even in the midst of his quest to gain clarity and stay balanced emotionally.

Read Full Review of I Hate to Leave This Beautifu... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Claire Dederer on Jul 26 2013

There’s deep pleasure, even a quiet kind of fun, in watching as Norman orchestrates the various elements in play.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Helen Oyeyemi on Jul 13 2013

Some books celebrate the human condition; others commiserate with us. This memoir does both, and offers fine, subtly fey companionship to boot.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by John Reimringer on Jul 06 2013

“I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place” succeeds as memoir because Norman’s outward focus on the people and incidents that have filled his life evokes strong and unexpected emotions in its reader.

Read Full Review of I Hate to Leave This Beautifu... | See more reviews from Star Tribune

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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