Flyover Lives

Flyover Lives

A Memoir

Additional Formats
  • ePub
  • ISBN 9780698137486
  • 288 Pages
  • Viking Books
  • Adult


“[A] vivid . . . quest for roots. . . . Splendid.”
The New York Times Book Review
Growing up in the small river town of Moline, Illinois, Diane Johnson always dreamed of venturing off to see the world—and did. Now having traveled widely and lived part-time in Paris for many years, she is stung when a French friend teases her about Americans’ indifference to history.  Could it be true? The j’accuse haunts Diane and inspires her to dig into her family’s past, working back from the Friday night football of her youth to the adventures illuminated in the letters and memoirs of her stalwart pioneer ancestors—beginning with a lonely young soldier who came to America from France in 1711.
As enchanting as her bestselling novels, Flyover Lives is a moving examination of identity and the “wispy but material” family ghosts who shape us. As Johnson pays tribute to her deep Midwestern roots, she captures the perpetual tug-of-war between the magnetic pull of home and our lust for escape and self-invention.


Praise for Flyover Lives by Diane Johnson:

“[A] vivid . . . quest for roots. Johnson strikes an elegiac note in her cullings of family and national history . . . splendid.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Smart and engaging . . . [A] singularly agreeable and appealing book.”
The Washington Post
“Smart . . . perceptive . . . Flyover Lives is a memoir of the Midwest sure to charm readers . . . Johnson vividly reminds us that the country we’re all from is the unfamiliar one called the past.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“Delightful . . . compelling and entertaining. . . . Johnson has a sharp eye for detail, and . . . her storytelling brings [the] past vividly to life.”
Chicago Tribune
“Solid Midwestern values seasoned by charm, affection, and lovely writing provide a welcome detour off the tabloid [memoir] path. . . . [It’s an] absolute pleasure [to be] in the company of a skilled writer who so eloquently examines the people and geography that shaped her.”
—Boston Globe
“Like her heroines, Johnson appears to have a boundless curiosity about the world and its inhabitants . . . What gives her memoir its charm and makes it so consistently beguiling is . . . the tone in which she relates her recollections, reflections, and discoveries. Fans of her novels will recognize the cheerful, wry bemusement, the rare combination of optimism and clear-sightedness, the humor and the intelligence we have come to expect from her fictional first-person narrators, and from the knowing voice that moves seamlessly from the consciousness of one character to another.”
—Francine Prose, The New York Review of Books

“Johnson seeks to understand how [her family] history has shaped her character, and when she describes her time as a screenwriter and a young mother with four children in nineteen-sixties England, her cheerful pragmatism and unsparing work ethic do seem tied to the can-do spirit of her ancestors.”
The New Yorker

—San Francisco Chronicle
“Engaging and filled with feeling for an America that is gone forever.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Diane Johnson’s wry new memoir is an absorbing exploration of the people and places that have shaped her. . . . By investigating the lives of her ancestors, Johnson finds that there are no ‘flyover’ lives, and that every person has a story worth telling.”

“Johnson is a felicitous writer, cheerfully alert to irony and absurdity. The unfailing deftness of the prose makes this book a pleasure.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Adeptly structured, incisive, funny, and charming, Johnson’s look back delves into deep questions of history and inheritance. . . . Keenly observed.”

“Award-winning novelist and essayist Diane Johnson explores her Midwestern roots and family history in this charming and candid memoir. . . . An enjoyable peek into how America shaped one celebrated author’s consciousness.”
—Publishers Weekly