Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is a really entertaining, even charming, book that I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. Written by Franklin Sanders from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, this book is a memoir, written diary style (to be accurate, it is actually written as a personal letter to subscribers to his newsletter, but the reading experience is that of looking into a diary), about a man who takes his family and leaves his known way of life to live off the land in Dogwood Mudhole, TN. Yes, there really is a Dogwood Mudhole, TN!

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When I first got this book, I knew it was going to be a good one when Mr. Sanders used the word "Luddite" in the preface. Any man who knows the Luddites is a friend to me. Any man who can work in a reference to them before he even officially begins his memoir surely has the kind of writing style that will resonate with me. Boy was I right! Mr. Sanders has written the kind of memoir that I would like to write, if only anything in my life was memoir-worthy. It is funny, pathetic (in the archaic usage, related to the Greek pathos), and surprisingly hard to put down! It is the kind of book that you feel good, rather than guilty, about reading. To get an idea of what I mean, read the sample chapter "Pig Persuader."

The Sanders family odyssey begins when the nuclear family realizes that Y2K is around the corner and that they are not really very satisfied with the pace and composition of modern life anyway. Hence, they trade in their pedestrian lifestyle for multi-generational, two generations removed, family style Tennessee farming. The title of Volume 1 of the memoir, "Nothing That Eats" refers to Mrs. Sanders' request that the family not acquire anything that eats. Of course, you can only imagine how long that resolution lasts!

Beginning in June, 1995, Mr. Sanders begins writing a monthly update in which he describes his family's life and decision-making process, the culmination of which was the decision to find a homestead in Middle TN in which to weather out Y2K. If you're thinking that this book reads like some kind of book form of a show like "Doomsday Preppers" (a show I've never seen, but have seen advertised), you could not be farther from the truth. With hindsight, it is easy to forget how consumed much of the country was with thoughts of Y2K and what might happen as a result of unprepared computers. What now reads as a little quaint would have read as very current to Mr. Sanders' newsletter subscribers. Putting that aside, though, the final impetus for the Sanders family move in no way detracts from the overall theme of the book: the family had run out of ideas for good places to raise their seven children and for a way to live the kind of authentic life they felt they were being called to live. Y2K almost becomes incidental.

Volume I of this projected three volume memoir (two volumes are currently available) ends in September, 2002 as the family uses up the last of its stored Y2K supplies. It is hard to leave the Sanders family after going on this adventure with them, so it's a relief that Volume II is out now (11/15/13), with Volume III not far behind!

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is written for adults, but would make a great read aloud for almost any age. It has nearly 400 pages but is a very quick read (I read it in three days). It can be purchased from the At Home in Dogwood Mudhole website for $22.95.

Lots of Crew families got to read this neat book, so click the banner below to see what they thought!

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1 comment:

  1. On behalf of the Sanders family, thank you for taking the time to read the book and post your review. We would like to let your readers know they can get free shipping (for up to 2 books, to US addresses only) by using the discount code TOSFREE at checkout. Thanks again, and God bless!