Bound

James McKean

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As a boy, Jim McKean understood little about the lives of the women in his family. Perhaps they preferred it that way. Later, marriage brought another group of women and then a daughter brought questions. The answers revealed stories of remarkable women who survived their time and place, creating a legacy of grit and independence, vulnerability and pain, as they struggled to create lives through the vagaries of war, broken homes, and discrimination.  Revisiting these stories has drawn Jim McKean back into the family of women who raised him, stories that bind his and their worlds together.

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Description

As a boy, Jim McKean understood little about the lives of the women in his family. Perhaps they preferred it that way. Later, marriage brought another group of women and then a daughter brought questions. The answers revealed stories of remarkable women who survived their time and place, creating a legacy of grit and independence, vulnerability and pain, as they struggled to create lives through the vagaries of war, broken homes, and discrimination.  Revisiting these stories has drawn Jim McKean back into the family of women who raised him, stories that bind his and their worlds together.

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Lesson Plan

Rootie Kazootie One-Man Band

Let Me Be Richard

Payoff

Queen for a Day

Stations, 1979

Dyed-­in-­the-­Wool

Posting

So Much More

Handwork

Crossover Toehold

Caravan

Bound

Notes

About the Author

Authors

James McKean earned an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his PhD from the University of Iowa. He has published three books of poems, Headlong, Tree of Heaven, and We Are the Bus; and a book of essays, Home Stand: Growing Up in Sports. A professor emeritus at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he still teaches for the Queens University low-residency MFA program in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Reviews

James McKean's new collection Bound is a treasure trove of personal essays that lives up to its name. Not only will the reader be gratefully tethered by woven threads of near endless curiosity and honest contemplation, one will also find, inherent in the presented imagination, a narrative responsibility wherein mutual discovery--for both writer and reader--becomes a shared destination. To read Bound is to be held by and simultaneously released into a generosity, a richness that is the writer's genius.

—Jon Pineda, author of Let’s No One Get Hurt and Sleep in Me

The  essays in James McKean’s Bound constitute a tribute to the women in his family. Gratitude is their motivating impulse, but they’re not sentimental. He’s too good a writer not to wrestle with conflict and ambiguity.

McKean accomplishes many things simultaneously. His pieces are intricately and solidly constructed: writers can learn from them. He revives a lost place and time, the Pacific Northwest of the mid-twentieth century. His sentences are perfectly weighted and balanced, his images arresting and memorable. His catalogs of particulars and long descriptive passages flow down the page so gracefully that they seem to end too soon.

 A marvelous collection.

—Emily Fox Gordon, author of Book of Days: Personal Essays