I reviewed Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s eloquent and exasperating “The Place You Love Is Gone” for the Chronicle book review:
“Pity the poor publicist assigned to “The Place You Love Is Gone.” Not that the book is a bum product: Every paragraph Melissa Holbrook Pierson pens is filled with filigreed detail, stylized turns of phrase, piercing stabs of emotion. But how do you pitch this book, exactly? Is it a rallying cry for Wal-Mart haters or a cautionary tale for urban planners? Is it sociology, history, philosophy or memoir?
Like any rich work that cannot be reduced to a hook (and especially like the work of similarly ruminative writer Rebecca Solnit), “The Place You Love Is Gone” is none of these and more. Don’t be fooled: Pierson’s book is not an indictment of today’s rapid pace of development. It’s too emotionally complicated for that. Pierson mourns lost derelict warehouses as much as dairy farms, and strip malls are but a blip in her universe of grief. Her amorphous subject is not suburban sprawl or downtown regeneration but time itself, or, as she puts it, “the fundamental existential tragedy of more driveways, of what is lost and how it hurts to know that it will never come back.” ”
Click here for the full review.