lived here

By Christopher Ingraham
293 Pages
Published by Harper Collins
Genre: sociology, biographical
Reviewed by Charles Johnson

The author, a writer for a Washington DC organization, did some research on the worst counties in which to live. Based on piles of data, his conclusion: Red Lake County in northwestern Minnesota was the absolute worst county of all to live in. With his article published, he expected little attention. Well, dismiss that notion, Mr. Ingraham.

He heard from the people of Red Lake county. But much to his surprise, it wasn’t all that nasty or vituperative – he found himself invited to visit the county, where he would be shown the highlights therein. So, he flew from Washington DC to Minneapolis, and rented a car, driving the 7 hours north and west, where he met the townspeople, experienced the small-town atmosphere there, where he visited farms, ate the right kind of foods, and shook hands with a good many of the folks there.

Long story short, he learned that statistics, accurate though they may be, often mislead, befuddle and totally confuse. Mr. Ingraham found himself appreciating the hum of the small-town life he found there.

Longer story shorter, Mr. Ingraham returned to the suburban life he led in the Baltimore area, where he had a small apartment with his wife and twin boys. After some discussion and talk, the family abandoned their big city life and moved to Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, (where, ironically enough, there is no falls . . .).

They quickly experienced the meaning of small town life – the shopping, the roads, the weather, the activities one can partake – and you can bet our author was treated to much of this – growing his own garden, keeping pet rabbits, deer hunting, ice fishing, winter festival celebrations, dog sled rides – none of which was the normal lifestyle back on the East Coast.

Mr. Ingraham writes with a humorous, personal voice in this book – it is, after all, his own story. His tales of the activities rollicks with humor and joyful discovery – and yet there art times when he writes with a sedate, reflective voice as he muses about the small town and its approach to the aspects of life – the pacing, the issues (schooling, medical care, and racism, to name a few).

New ideas, new emotions, and unexpected moments fill the book with a savory feel without getting sentimental. Here we have a good one. To read IF YOU LIVED HERE YOU’D BE HOME is to enter a world that dispels any thoughts that urban life is superior to rural life and that the stereotypes we have learned about both are not all that accurate.

Just like those lying statistics Mr. Ingraham initially started out writing about.