Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

by Kathleen Norris

Paperback, 1993





Norris reveals the contradictions of small town life on the Great Plains, where gracious hospitality blends with provincial wariness, local history is valued by writers, and truth and myth collide.


Houghton Mifflin (P) (1993), 224 pages


(239 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ggreads
The author, a poet, moved from NYC to a small town on the ND / SD border, and took up residence in her grandparents' former home. She writes about being an outsider in the small town, the beauty of the "desert," and the hospitality of the Benedictine monks whom she befriended. The weather is harsh;
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the land and people, tough. The essays are thoughtful and vivid.
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LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
Norris, a New York poet, was called back to the family farm in South Dakota after the death of her grandmother. This is her account of both the geographic journey home, and the spiritual journey that accompanied it.
LibraryThing member Tpoi
A great melding of biography, physical landscape, spirituality and place. Along with F. Buechner she is my favorite author on things spiritual.
LibraryThing member kwkslvr
I'm not sure why I disliked this book. It certainly seems innocuous enough. It might be that I am not a reflective person in the same sense as the author. I don't care much for poetry, either.
LibraryThing member mahallett
i read another book by kathleen norris which was too religious for me but this was wonderful.
LibraryThing member ajlewis2
I read about 2/3 of the book. I liked it in the beginning. After a while I began to feel I was reading the same thing over and over. I think my problem was that it wasn't what I expected it to be. It seems to be less a story and more a series of essays or the musings of the author on spirituality
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found in the difficulties of life in Western Dakotas and in a monastery. I lost interest about 50 pages into it, but kept reading to around page 250. I tried to finish because this book was one I was involved in selecting for our book club. I gave up trying.
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LibraryThing member juniperSun
I had been saving this book for several years because I had heard it was fantastic. I read about half the book and was very bored. Put it down. Came back a month or so later to finish. Some chapters were OK. "Is it You Again" and "Monks at Play" were an interesting exploration of monasteries.
I felt
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her constant comparisons of the communities of the Dakotas with monastic communities was a bit strained at times and it was irritating to have her continually mix the two. She had too many ideas she wanted to develop here:coming to terms with her families past, exploring her changing spirituality and interest in monasteries, expounding on small town society.
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LibraryThing member yellerreads
Stories about living in small town Lemmon, South Dakota.
LibraryThing member saintbedefg
This is Norris' first major book. Though a poet, she began to keep a kind of journal after she and her husband left New York City in order to take over a farm in Lemmon, South Dakota, left to her in an inheritance. Once there, her entire life began to change. Once a non-believer, she began to see
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the issue differently.

This book details her gradual awakening to the meaning of faith, and growing appreciation for the desolation of the plains. As she writes: "Like those monks [of the 4th century], I made a counter-cultural choice to live in what the rest of the world considers a barren waste. Like them I had to stay in this...
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LibraryThing member b.masonjudy
I found the poetry in this collection much more powerful than the essays. While Kathleen Norris is articulate, especially about her faith and conceptions of Christianity, I found most essays spun off into rabbit trails, side stories and were not cohesive. There was also a fair amount of repetition,
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especially about the monastic lifestyle, Benedictine tradition and an endless supply of anecdotes about her choice to move from New York to Dakota. Norris captures the spirit of the Plains when she lets herself express the natural world in her poetry, I wish there would have been a bit more of these and a bit less reflection and reportage.
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LibraryThing member Narshkite
A lovely meditation on life on the plains, and on the prairie's special way of awakening and activating faith (I had the same experience fwiw.) I can't say i understand why Norris chose to stay in Lemmon, she seems more ill-suited to the region than I was, and I was in the "big city" of Fargo -- I
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made it two years. Still she tells a tale, provides context and introduces a way of approaching life that is compelling, and led me to rethink my approach to some things. A worthwhile read for those if us who prefer guided reflection to self-help.
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LibraryThing member kslade
Really nice work about the great plains area, loneliness, meditation, etc. Worthwhile.
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