River Home by Dorothy Weil
Memoir (Ohio Bicentennial)

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Synopsis

The death of her father begins Dorothy Weil’s search for what causes the family’s “spinning of in all directions like the pieces of Chaos.” She embarks on a river odyssey, traveling the Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers by steamboat, towboat, and even an old-fashioned flatboat. The river brings her family back, as she records the stories of her fellow “river rats”: steamboat veterans, deckhands, captains, and cooks.

The River Home takes the reader into a world few ever glimpse, that of America’s riverboats. In the fast-paced narrative, with incisive characterizations and dialogue, the author introduces us to this vivid milieu and a gallery of fascinating people. We meet her father, a “wild river man from the Kentucky hills,” her mother, “a proper girl from a Cincinnati Dutch clan,” and her brother, a fourth-generation river man, as well as the artists and academics she meets in her adult life.

Weil’s voice is clear and wry, as well as poetic, bringing out both the sadness and joys of a family torn by mismatched backgrounds. Her themes speak to all: the confusion brought by family conflict, the strength of family love no matter how troubled the relationships, the mortality we all face, the importance of where we come from and where we go.
 

About Dorothy Weil

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Weil is a feature writer, novelist, poet, and producer with TV Image, Inc. a video production team whose documentaries about the Ohio River have won many national awards. She lives with her husband and paints whenever possible in a studio above a neighborhood bar.
 
Published April 30, 2002 by Ohio University Press. 258 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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In 1940, they moved back onto a riverboat, this one permanently docked in Cincinnati as a yacht club where her father lived as watchman.

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In a voice as unadorned as a Midwestern plain, Weil, a "river rat" and documentary film producer, cumulatively builds a richly textured family history from 1894 to 1988.

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