“. . . Becky Bradway writes compellingly about the place where she was raised and still lives, but she also knows that the hidden component of place is time and its ceaseless motion and the motion it spawns in all of us. On these many stable planes, we are always passing through.”
—from the Foreword by Michael Martone
Much of what inspires Pink Houses and Family Taverns, a collection of creative nonfiction by Becky Bradway, is the author’s upbringing in rural southern Illinois. Coming of age among a family of carpenters, housewives, and factory workers, Bradway works to get an education and to build a different kind of life for herself (in spite of social pressures to “keep her in her place”). Her dreams of becoming a writer and a professor often run head-on with the hometown’s expectations that she keep her mouth shut like a “proper girl,” and with the university’s expectations that she toe a more formal, conservative line.
The tension Bradway feels about “Being From There” permeates her memoir, as she negotiates the transitions between childhood and adulthood, rural life and urban life, ignorance and sophistication. She debates important life decisions and presents us with a vivid array of characters—family, friends, students—who have made an impression on her.
Bradway writes in a conversational style that is often humorous and occasionally sardonic; and she approaches her subjects with sincerity, open-mindedness, and compassion. The essays are complemented by a selection of black-and-white photographs of the region and its inhabitants.