Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 000-000
These recent books by longtime Nebraska author, folklorist, and humorist Roger Welsch examine life in the Great Plains from two quite different perspectives. Forty Acres and a Fool, ostensibly a how-to book on moving to the country, is written in a personal, conversational style from the start. In the introduction Welsch relates the story of his own physical (and mental) relocation to Dannebrog, a village of 352 in central Nebraska. Although the book offers practical advice on everything from moving buildings to fitting in with the social life of one's chosen rural community, it feels essentially like sitting down at the local coffee shop and listening to Welsch relate his personal experiences and his philosophical take on rural life. As such, it's a delight. The reader gains an insight into Welsch's character along with a greater understanding of how things tend to work in rural America. As he states in the first chapter, "My experience may not be your experience, but then again it will help you avoid some pitfalls I walked right into. As I have insisted all along with my books about tractor restoration for this same publisher, this is not a manual on how to do things; it's an exemplar of how things have been done. And that's pretty much what all history is, after all."