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The Reunion: A Norwegian American Family Saga [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Reunion: A Norwegian American Family Saga by Steven Fortney...

They are a large tribe. Every two years or so this Norwegian American family holds a reunion on one of the family farms located in Hay River Township of Dunn County, 10 miles north of Menomonie, Wisconsin. This family of farmers, laborers, lawyers, school teachers, businessmen, environmental specialists, Lutheran clergymen, professors including a celebrated nuclear physicst, politicians, computer wizards, journalists including one ex-Times man, writers, novelists, musicians, poets, artists, have established themselves as American citizens without ever forgetting their Old Country roots. This novel is centered on one of the frequent family reunions that took place in 1983. The story of that gathering, however, deepens through its fictional elements, and becomes darker, grander, and more passionate. This is that story.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   269
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.6" Width: 5.5" Height: 1"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 15, 2005
Publisher   Badger Books LLC
ISBN  1932542183  
ISBN13  9781932542189  

Availability  0 units.

More About Steven Fortney

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Steven Fortney graduated form the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught English at Stoughton High School for 31 years. Fortney and his wife live in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

Steven Fortney currently resides in Stoughton.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Norse & Icelandic Sagas
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry > Fiction
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Reunion: A Norwegian American Family Saga?

More Than a Family Saga  Jul 28, 2005
Reunion Review

This is a wonderful and difficult book to review. Wonderful because of the great wisdom and peace at which it eventually arrives in such a simple, humble way. Difficult because it speaks so deeply to, and of, the greatest human sorrows. The Reunion is the story of several generations of a large Norwegian-American farm family. One focus of the narrative is Albin Fortney, born in Wisconsin in 1906, his wife Anita, his seven brothers and sisters and, especially, his three sons.
Albin, a Lutheran minister and combat-decorated chaplain in WWII, is a stubborn, narrow, angry man whom his sons find difficult to love. In large part, they make lives for themselves in opposition to him. The oldest, John, becomes a liberal minister whose theology clashes violently with his father's. The middle son, Skip (the novel's narrator), is for many years an iconoclastic high school English teacher. The youngest, Kendall Thomas, is drafted during the Vietnam War but seeks and gains conscientious objector status and sees service as a nonarms-bearing medic.
These and many other plot strands are interwoven with a description of a huge reunion at a family farm in northern Wisconsin in 1983. At this four generational affair, people reminisce, over-eat, play softball and drive through the countryside visiting sites of importance to the family. The author shows us these places as the background of Skip's childhood and as part of an incomparable American landscape belonging to us all.
But Fortney is also fishing deeper waters. In both the family historical saga and the reunion narrative, readers encounter several family members with the name Thomas Kendall or Kendall Thomas. One of the latter is, of course, Skip's younger brother. He dies, at 27, on the battlefield in Vietnam. His father cannot escape the self-judgment of having somehow failed his son (all his sons, in fact), suffers a fatal heart attack, and dies two months and two days after his son is buried. Be warned: the last section of chapter four, titled "1968," is a harrowing, tearful ride. Indeed, it's clear The Reunion was written partly in response to these strong, still-living griefs.
Nonetheless, a scene near the end of the novel finds Skip climbing a hill overlooking a valley where generations of Fortneys have farmed and gone to school. And there, making a simple, life-affirming gesture, he has an experience that lifts him out of his human limitedness into a sense of deep love for the earth and of connectedness to the world and the universe. It's a dazzling climax to a powerful, straight-forward book. Fans of the author as well as those new to his work will be profoundly moved by his latest offering.

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