Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Inspired by Bogus Brook

In the past week I've read two books that were both set in the impossibly small location of Bogus Brook Township near Milaca, Minnesota. The first, World Gone Beautiful by Linda Buturian is a memoir of a woman who comes to live in a sort of modern commune. A group of four couples pool their resources to buy a patch of land along the Rum River. Her book describes incidents on the acreage but also memories from her past. The second book, I Come to America, is a short memoir of Mina Anderson who bought a piece of land in Bogus Brook in 1894 as well as academic analysis of how her situation typifies other Swedish immigrant women.
Though written over 100 years apart, similar themes inhabit their pages. Both women come to the country mainly to raise their children. Buturian has a strong connection with her fellow commune members, but each family has their own house and her strongest alliances are with her daughters and her husband. Anderson has immigrated to America from Sweden. Though she spent a few years working as a domestic in St.Paul, when she marries, she and her husband, Jacob Halgren decide to move north. An economic downturn was part of the motivation, but it also seemed a healthier place to raise children than the city.
Both families need to commute to the city to sustain their life in the country. Buturian describes various jobs that she has had, but mainly is a writing teacher in the city. Jacob Halgren is a tailor and he lives in the city for months at a time while Mina runs the farm.
Both books describe the hard work that it takes to live in the country, including building houses, raising animals and keeping gardens. Both authors appreciate the beauty of their surroundings and are proud of the work that they have done to maintain their place in the country.
Both writers reflect back on their youth, trying to discover how they came to be where they are. Finally both writers seem to be satisfied that they have made a good choice by moving to Bogus Brook. Check out these books through East Central Regional Library.

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