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Home Town

Home Town

In this fascinating book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder takes us inside the everyday workings of Northampton, Massachusetts -- a place that seems to personify the typical American hometown. Kidder unveils the complex drama behind the seemingly ordinary lives of Northampton's residents. And out of these stories he creates a splendid, startling portrait of a town, in a narrative that gracefully travels among past and present, public and private, joy and sorrow.
A host of real people are alive in these pages: a tycoon with a crippling ailment; a criminal whom the place has beguiled, a genial and merciful judge, a single mother struggling to start a new life at Smith College; and, at the center, a policeman who patrols the streets of his beloved hometown with a stern yet endearing brand of morality -- and who is about to discover the peril of spending a whole life in one small place. Their stories take us behind the town's facades and reveal how individuals shape the social conscience of a community. Home Town is an unflinching yet lovingly rendered account of how a traditional American town endures and evolves at the turn of the millenniums.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 464 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671785215 | 
  • May 2000
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Townie

He grew up here. He was the youngest of Jane and Bill O'Connor's seven children. His oldest sister called him Todder when he was an infant. His high school friends shortened up his surname and rechristened him Oakie. To teachers and other adults he was usually Tommy. His wife would call him Tom. All his nicknames and the diminutive accompanied him to adulthood. If you do all your growing up in the same small place, you don't shed identities. You accumulate them.

One day when he was ten years old, Tommy O'Connor's Little League baseball coach made him the starting pitcher. A signal honor, but then Tommy couldn't get... see more

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