Friday, 24 June 2016

Review: Mo, Me and America. The Vanishing Rural Community. By Randy Turk.

The idea of this book intrigued me as I love a good road trip book and the jaunty cover sealed the deal.

I liked the idea of a trip to examine rural communities too as many cross America trips are about the roads themselves or the cities, so this more sedate approach was a refreshing change.

There is a lot of meaty history contained in this unassuming little Tome and I greatly enjoyed it. Particularly the little titbits about The famous Pony express. I was totally unaware that it was active for so short a time for instance.

I do not come from an agricultural background, but I have seen some subtle decline in my own small town here in Cambridgeshire in the UK , so I am interested in just the same issues that are affecting US towns as the modern way of living encroaches.

I am one of those youngsters who moved to the big smoke to gain employment, but who have returned to quieter small town living as I have hit middle age.

One of the main reasons cited that is of greatest concern to the decline in rural living  is the breakdown in the community  identity that sees everyone knowing everyone and the”village” care of the children of these communities. Mum and Dad were always one step ahead thanks to neighbours and their sticky beaks!

I think the book shows that whilst that has been lost in some towns it is still very present in others and it is the intention and commitment of the community itself that ensures the spirit of townships are not diminished. I hope that cohesiveness and community remain goals for every town. 

I really enjoyed the slightly grumpy Dog’s eye view of Mo, the hostess with the mostest as we used to say. Her asides gave a fun element that raised this book above others in this genre of cross country Travelogues.

Her squirrel occupation made me chuckle out loud !

One small (slightly jaded) word on repetition, Mr Turk seems to fixate on a word every once in a while and it starts to grate, it became so apparent that I went back and counted , he wrote the word Campground eight times  in three short paragraphs. The later on the phrase “pioneer spirit” was used repeatedly in two paragraphs. A fine phrase, but so often diminishes it’s impact somewhat. This may be a stylistic flourish but for me it was distracting. 

This was however, a really minor quibble about what has been a really interesting read. I have learnt much about the US generally and the challenges and joys of rural living .

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