Quietness suits this memoir and Arlo Crawford as he returns home in his thirties for a summer at the farm where he was raised. His parents still perform all the tasks of organic farming and the seasons demand their attention at all times. When Arlo returns, he falls into the easy rhythms of the farm and begins to join the different groups that assist in the multitude of tasks that a large organic farming operation entails. And he grows up.
Like May Sarton, Arlo Crawford’s memoir creates an easel that paints itself with his scenes of the dusty days on a large organic farming operation, utilizing the change of seasons to parallel and coat his palette with the changes he himself reflects upon. Solitary and communal, soft and elegant, Arlo portends the life that he will finally grow into: that of a writer. For when Arlo returns home he has had many jobs, yet nothing that compels him, and he feels a drifting that upsets and scares him.
“As Arlo bends, sorts, picks and sweats his way through the farm’s rhythms, he begins to appreciate the depth of his parents’ commitment to the acres where they’ve made their lives. His return also prompts a re-examination of the murder of a neighbor farmer twenty years before, a tragedy that underscores just how much a farm can ask of those who tend it.”
As Arlo resees his parents and their devotion to each other and their land, and as the story of the murder interlaces with his visit home, Arlo creates a masterpiece of land, earth, commitment, family and tragedy in the soft voice of a man who learns who he is, finally, and the land that built his family’s devotion.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
A Farm Dies Once a Year: A Memoir is available on Amazon.com and booksellers nationwide