Debra Marquart

The Horizontal World--News

Home | Contact | Short Biography | Journal Publications | Books | Honors & Awards | The Bone People | Readings & Performances | The Horizontal World--News

The Horizontal World: 
        Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere


"Farmers do not mean to be so possessive; they're just punctuated that way. And farmer's daughters must struggle against the powerful apostrophes of their fathers."
  --The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere

Links to Reviews

New York Times Book Review:  Sunday, July 30, 2006: "Young at Heartland."  Review by Julia Scheeres.

Read NYTBR Review

Chicago Tribune:  Sunday, July 23, 2006.  "Author's Love is at Emotional Heart of Book."  Review by Beth Kephart.
Read Chicago Tribune Review

The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA:  August 3, 2006.  Review by Nancy Simpson.
Read Book Vault Review

Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Library.  July 29, 2006.  Review by Edna Boardman.
Read GRHC Review

Boston Globe: "Short Takes." Sunday, August 6, 2006. Review by Barbara Fisher. 
Read Boston Globe Review

New York Times Book Review, "Editors' Choice" Selection. August 20, 2006.
Read "Editors' Choice" Selections

The Des Moines Register. "Marquart Goes Home Again In New Memoir." August 18, 2006. Reviewed by John Domini.
Read Des Moines Register Review

"Live from Prairie Lights" Reading.  Podcast on WSUI-FM.  Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City, IA.  31 August 2006.
Listen to Prairie Lights Reading
"Writer Fled N.D., But She Can't Flee Past."  Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD.  Review by Jill Callison.  9 Sept. 2006.
Read Argus Leader Review
"Napoleon, ND Native Will Sign Books Sunday at Little Professor."  Aberdeen News, Aberdeen, SD.  Article/Review by Gretchen Mayer.  15 Sept. 2006.
Read Aberdeen News Article/Review

"There's No Place Like Flyover Land."  Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Review by Katy Read.  26 Sept. 2006.
Read Minneapolis Star Tribune Review

"Itching to Get Out." Chicago Sun-Times. Review by Katy Read. 1 Oct. 2006.

"Wisconsin, Nebraska, Jane Austen in Bath Guides." The Chicago Tribune. Review by June Sawyers. 22 October 2006.

"Discoveries."  Los Angeles Times.  Review by Susan Salter Reynolds. 12 Nov. 2006. 

Whatzup.  Leisure Time Weekly for Northeast Indiana.  Review by Evan Gillespie.  16 Nov. 2006

"A Familiar Wildness." Haute Dish: The Arts and Letters Magazine of Metropolitan State University. Review by Ellen Rice. Spring 2007.

Review of The Horizontal World."  Brevity Book Review. February, 2007.  Review by Todd Davis. 

"Vivid Bloom in a Dry Place" The Iowa Source: Iowa's Enlightening Magazine. Review by Thomas Dean. Spring 2007.

"American Ways of Growing Up." The Washington Post 5 August, 2007. Review.

"Paperback Row" New York Times Book Review 12 August 2007. Review.

"What's Carla Reading?" Review by Carla Offenberger. 16 October 2007.
Coal Hill Review, review of The Horizontal World.  June 2011.

Other Links

"Chores" (excerpt from The Horizontal World). Orion Magazine, July/August 2006

"Interview: Deb Marquart on The Dry Paper Life & The Way of Fire," by Penni Pearson. South Dakota Review (2001)

"The Farmer's Daughter: A Revision" (excerpt from The Horizontal World). Arts & Letters: Journal of Contemporary Culture (2003).



Winner, PEN USA 2007 Creative Nonfiction Award

Winner, Elle Magazine's "Elle Lettres" Award, August 2006

Honorable Mention, Elle Magazine's "Grand Prix, 2006"

Finalist, Society of Midland Authors, 2007 Nonfiction Award

"Book Sense" Reading Group Pick, Spring-Summer, 2007

Radio Interviews

"On Point," National Public Radio Interview with Tom Ashbrook. 8 August, 2006.
Listen to "On Point" Interview

"Growing up in the Middle of Nowhere." Weekend America. American Public Radio. 7 July 2007.
Listen to Weekend America Radio Essay

Advance Praise

 The Horizontal World is as full of grit and grace as the North Dakota farmland it portrays. Debra Marquart writes of home and how we carry it with us no matter the miles and years we travel. If you dare think that nothing really happens out there in the middle of nowhere, read this gorgeous book about a family and their land, about the girl who strained against both and finally left. From the first words, you’ll feel a taproot set down in your heart, one that won’t let go because the story is as old as the land itself. You know the one­--that story of mothers and fathers and daughters and sons, that rough and tender story of the ties that bind."   —Lee Martin, author of From Our House and The Bright Forever

“Windy grassy ancient seabottom:  upper midwest beginning of the plains where the antelope played and the swan swam along then newcomer’s wheat farms and, sense of place?  Marquart gives us the place from every side—the earlier wild and  the now failing farms, both loved and abhorred,  no simple piety of place and work here—but another kind of sustainability is hinted at. Her writing-spare, sinuous, gnarly, sparky—and a life that's hands-on personal whether expert chores or runaway romance; painful but never self-pitying, hard-won illuminations. She enlarges the debate and transcends the dichotomies.  Here's where “wild” finally means free, and “nowhere” is another term for this world.”  —Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Turtle Island and Mountains and Rivers Without End

“Debra Marquart's The Horizontal World is one of those rare books that captures a landscape and the people in it with equal grace and artistry. At once a coming of age memoir and a portrait of the tough and cold and beautiful land upon which that growth occurs, this book is wonderfully accomplished."   —Brett Lott, author of  Jewell

 “Debra Marquart's prose is as flat as the land she so expertly renders in her stunning book The Horizontal World.  That "flat" is a good thing.  It's more tonic and sonic and as subtle as it can be.  You start out thinking that everything here is transparent, plain, known, but then the prose plys apart, splinters, revealing-layer after level layer-the depth right there all the time.  You begin to see this nothing for everythings it's got.”   —Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone and Alive and Dead in Indiana

“Marquart speaks loud and clear for the voices of the Great Plains that are too often silent. It is a point of view that is at once shocking and prophetic and one that can help bring focus to the dilemma of the grasslands. Read The Horizontal World and learn what the hungry wind feels like on your naked body.”  —Dan O'Brien, author of Buffalo for the Broken Heart

Horizontal World Photo Album

Read Sample Chapter

Book Tour Events

Book Description

Early Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From the first word, Marquart (The Hunger Bone) makes clear that she's got some reckoning to do with her home place, damning horny farmboys and the "seeds" they plant in the first paragraph of this rich memoir of growing up on a North Dakota farm. She got out as soon as she could, looking back only years later when her father's death pulls her home. Marquart explores her childhood as a victim of endless chores (wryly noting the word chores is "always plural") and isolation that was unbearable, especially for a contact-hungry teen. Everything Marquart touches gains light and color, from the monotony of the work and the tactics she developed to avoid it to the land itself and the untold price her foremothers paid to settle it. All of her narrative's wanderlust, however, brings her back to her father, sowing insight into his respect for her pursuit of a different life and her growing connection to how he lived his. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal

The Horizontal World reveals the depth of Marquart's (The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories) connection to her family's multigenerational farm in North Dakota through a series of stories, each of them based on a powerful personal recollection. The stories most accessible to the reader are the ones in which Marquart's character is brought strongly into the forefront, either as a recalcitrant kid, a wild teenager, or a mulish adult. Flashes of who she is now-a lyrical poet, writer, and teacher-are also apparent. Additionally, the book serves to chronicle the places that have rooted, and uprooted, the Marquart clan, and in this respect, works well as a memoir. When presented alone, the scientific and historical information used to offset Marquart's personal narrative seems too studied. When elaborated upon-i.e., the consequences and context of bare-bones facts further imagined-they work to enrich this beautiful memoir. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Maria Kochis, California State Univ. Lib., Sacramento Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From Barnes & Noble Editors

No matter how far we wander, it's an indisputable fact that who we are is intimately connected to where we're from. In this splendid family memoir, Debra Marquart explores the complicated geography of home and the strange symbiosis between place and identity. Raised on her family's North Dakota farm, a place she loathed for its unending drudgery, Marquart couldn't wait to shake the dust of the Great Plains from her feet. Yet, years later, when she returned for her beloved father's funeral, she rediscovered a connection to the land and to her family's pioneer history that surprised her mightily. For all of us who have stood poised between the need to escape and the desire to return home, this poignant and beautifully written book rings singularly true.

Find in a Library (Worldcat)

Updated 10/24/07