By Wendy Crisp Lestina
Genre: Memoir; humor
A Bit of Earth, published by Lychgate Press, an independent press in Corvallis, Oregon, is a memoir that begins in 1980 with the theft from a car parked on the streets of New York City of my father’s Silver Star medal, which was awarded to him for his heroism during World War II—heroism that resulted in his death. The book ends, 22 chapters later, with its unlikely recovery, 34 years later, in 2014. The story in-between, life stories that begin before I was born and take place in various settings (farms in northern California and tiny towns on the Minnesota prairie; Los Angeles and New York) is a kaleidoscope of stories about a life—mine—influenced by a dead father’s spiritual admonition to "life a big life, as big as you can make it, big enough for both of us.”
A Bit of Earth is both a personal story, filled with details of people and places and things that are unique to my experience, and a story about everyone whose childhood and adult life began in the atomic age and wove through a world in which long-standing rules were subject to revision or dissolution. Everyone seeks ways to survive, cope and—occasionally—master this challenge by finding a home, something to hang on to, a piece of earth. My way is humor. This is, mostly, a funny book.
A Bit of Earth is really great! Super lighthearted and funny. A perfect low key book, again I'm not usually a big memoir fan but A Bit of Earth is an exception. A very down to Earth book. I love that each story is unique from the others. It made the book go by fast and is just a perfect cozy read. I really, I mean really enjoy a book that makes me laugh. A Bit of Earth did just that. This is another book that's making me enjoy memoirs even more. Ms. Lestina did an excellent job putting all these stories together. I would recommend this book to anyone who really craves a well-written memoir and/or someone who wants a good laugh. Overall I give A Bit of Earth five stars!
Wendy Crisp Lestina is the author of five books: When I Grow Up I Want to Be 60 (Penguin/Perigee, Spring 2006); Do As I Say Not As I Did (Penguin/Perigee, 1997); From The Back Pew (2003); Old Favorites From Ferndale Kitchens (1994); and the best-selling 100 Things I’m Not Going to Do Now That I’m Over 50 (Penguin/Perigee, 1995).
Her career has been as a magazine editor (Savvy, Datamation, among others) and a public speaker (as the spokesperson of the National Association for Female Executives). She has appeared on dozens of national television programs, including Oprah!, The McLaughlin Group, the Today Show, and Good Morning America. Her op-ed pieces have been published in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Portland Oregonian, and heard on Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Since 2004, Wendy has directed over a dozen documentary videos, including Saving the Queen, produced under a grant from CalHumanities; and Letters Home, which won the Western History Association’s Autry Public History Prize in 2011. Her weekly newspaper column, “From the Back Pew,” has won three national awards for both “most serious” and “most humorous” from the National Newspaper Association. In 1997, Middlebury College (Vermont) awarded her an honorary doctorate for her work “on behalf of women and children.” She holds a B.A. (English) from Whitman College (Washington).
As a volunteer, Wendy served eight years on the national board of directors of United Methodist Communications (Nashville). She was a seminar leader in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility (New York); she coordinated nonprofit fundraisers in New York and Humboldt County. She is now the president of the historic Ferndale Cemetery Association.
Wendy and her husband, John live on the family farm outside of Ferndale, California where they are hosts of an Airbnb that serves dinner.