|For as long as he could remember, Lloyd Clausen wondered where he belonged. The prospect of lifelong labor on his adoptive parents’ farm seemed the wrong path. Throughout his adulthood, he wandered from job to job, from one failed relationship to another, always hoping to find his place. When Lloyd lay stricken with cancer in 1979, he reached out to his son and said, “You always understood.”
Truth was, Lloyd’s son, Dennis Clausen, didn’t understand. Dennis sensed some past injury and guessed that his father’s destiny had been, in part, defined by it—whatever that injury may have been. But Lloyd Clausen kept his secrets. For that reason, Dennis asked his father to jot down some events from his youth, never believing his dying father would actually do so.
Set in rural Minnesota during the 1920s–1940s, this powerful memoir, with its unblinking depictions of poverty, natural disasters, and human frailty, tells a story as meaningful today as when it occurred. At first, the story may seem somewhat familiar. An adopted child seeks his identity—his birth mother, his “real” family. But Lloyd’s clear-headed compassion and genuine gratitude for his mentors and tormentors alike elevate this memoir far above the standard family saga.
Faithfully researched and vividly retold by bestselling novelist Dennis M. Clausen, Prairie Son is uniquely satisfying literature—fascinating history informed with a suspenseful narrative of personal triumph.
“An amazing book. Easily the Angela's Ashes of the prairie. Clausen has
captured his father's voice perfectly and in it distilled a haunting song that
will not be forgotten.”—Mary Logue
“An archetypal account of Depression-era hardship. The heartbreaking frankness with
which Clausen relates his father's quest to find his birth mother and establish
a place in the wider world elevates this chronicle. A testament to one boy's
heroic, if flawed struggle, to maintain his humanity in the face of
overwhelming odds.”—Publishers Weekly
“Truly memorable. The almost atonal language typical of the time takes on a rich
descriptive quality that makes this text deeply lyrical as well as historical.
“A painful yet ultimately uplifting biographical journey.”—Booklist
“Did you ever read a book so good you didn't want it to end? Dennis Clausen's Prairie
Son will make you feel that way.”—St. Paul Pioneer Press