Driving with Dvorak


Driving with Dvorak

Essays on Memory and Identity

Fleda Brown

American Lives Series

284 pages


March 2010


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

All our lives are made of moments, both simple and sublime, all of which in some way partake of the cultural moment. Fleda Brown is that rare writer who, in narrating the incidents and observations of her life, turns her story, by wit and insight and a poet’s gift, into something more. This is an unconventional memoir. A series of lyrical essays about life in a maddeningly complex family during the even more maddeningly complex fifties and sixties, it adds up to one woman’s story while simultaneously reflecting the story of her times.
A strange and erratic father, a resigned and helpless mother, a mentally disabled brother, a sister with a brain tumor: folded into Brown’s reflections are the intimacies and ambivalences of family and marriage, girlhood and adolescence, identity and self-knowledge. Whether reflecting on the automobile industry or a wrenching parting from beloved pets or the process of aging, Brown’s telling rings with great humor, profound perception, and a lyricism that makes even the most commonplace moment uncommonly good reading.

Author Bio

Fleda Brown, professor emerita at the University of Delaware and a faculty member of the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, served as Delaware’s poet laureate from 2001 to 2007. Her many books include, most recently, On the Mason-Dixon Line: An Anthology of Contemporary Delaware Writers, coedited with Billie Travalini, and the award-winning poetry collection Reunion.


“Throughout this stunning book of essays, we journey into memory through a ‘music made of accumulation.’ Fleda Brown’s voice is edgy, direct, yet surprisingly tender. A decrepit summer cottage, a brain-damaged brother, even an exhaustingly difficult father are all part of the symphony she offers her lucky readers.”—Rebecca McClanahan, author of The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings

“In these elegant, associative essays, Fleda Brown writes movingly of her metamorphosis in spirit, body, and mind from her hoop-skirted childhood to the present. Her essays are often elegiac, always tender and compassionate, her language a poet’s, her memory a composer’s.”—Robin Hemley, director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa

"Fleda Brown's memoir, Driving with Dvorak . . . invokes the elegiac tradition while Brown drives us across spaces as wide as America itself: the architecture of family, marriage, divorce and re-marriage, and the essential defining of self."—Scott Whitaker, Broadkill Review

Table of Contents


Changing My Name

I Am Sick of School

Anatomy of a Seizure

Driving with Dvorak

Walls Six Feet Thick

Summer House

Relativity for Dummies

To Tell a Story

Hiking with Amy

New Car

War of the Roses

Returning the Cats


Private Bath

Where You Are

Soft Conversations

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