Tom Montag, The Idea of the Local & Other Essays. MWPH Books, Fairwater, WI. 2007. $17.95 + $2.50 s&h.
The Idea of the Local is a collection of essays which continues Montag's exploration of place and places, of people in place and of ghosts on the landscape. Whether it is his home he is writing about, or the broader middlewestern vista, whether it is the island of Cozumel or the wild waters of Canada, he pays patient attention to where he is and where we are, believing that however much we might shape a place we are also shaped by it. These essays examine the ways our places make us who we are. Some of the pieces have appeared in magazines such as Bellowing Ark, Journal of Unconventional History, New Stone Circle, North Dakota Quarterly, qarrtsiluni, and Rosebud; some have been posted at the author's blog, The Middlewesterner. In both cases, again and again, Montag has meditated on the meaning of place for us, on our relation to our various habitations, and has tried to ascertain how a community or a landscape gets its claws into us. Writing these essays has helped him come to broadened awareness, he says, and he hopes reading the essays will help his readers achieve a similar understanding of the places they claim.