Mobile Home
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Mobile Home

A Memoir in Essays

Title Details

Pages: 184

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 09/15/2020

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5792-8

List Price: $23.95


Pub Date: 09/15/2020

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5793-5

List Price: $23.95

Mobile Home

A Memoir in Essays

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

Uprooting ourselves and putting down roots elsewhere has become second nature. Americans are among the most mobile people on the planet, moving house an average of nine times in adulthood. Mobile Home explores one family’s extreme and often international version of this common experience. Inspired by Megan Harlan’s globe-wandering childhood—during which she lived in seventeen homes across four continents, ranging in location from the Alaskan tundra to a Colombian jungle, a posh flat in London to a doublewide trailer near the Arabian Gulf—Mobile Home maps the emotional structures and metaphysical geographies of home.

In ten interconnected essays, Harlan examines cultural histories that include Bedouin nomadic traditions and modern life in wheeled mobile homes, the psychology of motels and suburban tract housing, and the lived meanings within the built landscapes of Manhattan, Stonehenge, and the Winchester Mystery House. More personally, she traces the family histories that drove her parents to seek so many new horizons—and how those places shaped her upbringing. Her mother viewed houses as a kind of large-scale plastic art ever in need of renovating, while her father was a natural adventurer and loved nothing more than to travel, choosing a life of flight that also helped to mask his addiction to alcohol. These familial experiences color Harlan’s current journey as a mother attempting to shape a flourishing, rooted world for her son. Her memoir in essays skillfully explores the flexible, continually inventive natures of place, family, and home.

In prose rooted in the arc of an unsentimental education, Megan Harlan moves us through her unmanifest destiny, using the essay sharply as she takes us through the doors and tunnels, roads and bridges, trailers and cities, the spiders and fairies of her memory. Mobile Home is architectural and geographical, philosophical and historical, but always with an eye on the establishing shot: the nomadic Bedouin image of Harlan's childhood that serves as a metaphor for our own extreme mobility. ‘I don't know where I'm from, but who wants to hear that?’ she asks. We do, most emphatically.

—David Lazar, author of I’ll Be Your Mirror: Essays and Aphorisms

In 10 graceful essays, award-winning poet, essayist, and editor Harlan recounts her singularly nomadic childhood. . . . Sharply observed forays into the mazes of the past.

—Kirkus Reviews

Harlan and her family moved 17 times while she was a child, following her father’s work as an engineer across four continents. Impermanence defined her early life, and is a resonant ache in this linked-essay memoir. Her meditations on the meaning of places, houses and homes are rooted in her nomadic experience, if nomadism can be said to root anything…Perhaps, these essays suggest, home is after all the place that is ours—whoever and wherever we find ourselves to be.

—Lori Soderlind, New York Times Book Review traces of themselves, something good books foster. Such books exhilarate by awakening the personal, leading one to appreciate and understand.

—Sam Pickering, Missouri Review

Fascinating and lyrical memoir.

—Courtney Eathorne, Booklist

A wholly original take on memoir, this collection of essays approaches its subject from varying perspectives to give the reader a rich and enveloping experience of a life. . . . Mobile Home combines the lyric, the factual, and the dramatic in a prose style that is both hugely enjoyable and deeply moving.

—Northern California Book Awards

The essays in Mobile Home are lyrical and big-hearted and thoughtful ... Harlan’s nuanced take has much in common with essays by Jo Ann Beard, Annie Dillard or Maggie Nelson: inventive structure, detailed imagery, and a voice that dips through layers of archaeology, history and architecture, deepening each essay’s resonance.

—Melissa Oliveira, Hippocampus Magazine


IPPY Awards, Independent Publisher Magazine

About the Author/Editor

MEGAN HARLAN's essays have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Colorado Review, Hotel Amerika, Alaska Quarterly Review, Arts & Letters, and the Cincinnati Review. She has been awarded the Arts & Letters Prize for Creative Nonfiction and cited as distinguished in Best American Essays 2018 and 2019. Her first book, Mapmaking, won the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry. She works as a writer and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area.