Gabrielle Burton to read and sign Tamsen Donner books in Truckee
July 29, 2010
and#8220;After writing about Tamsen Donner (the pioneer heroine of the ill-fated Donner Party of 1846) off and on for 37 years,and#8221; author Gabrielle Burton said, and#8220;I won the writerand#8217;s lottery, publishing two books about her in one year.and#8221;
Burton will be read and sign her new novel, and#8220;Impatient with Desire: The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner,and#8221; and her acclaimed memoir, and#8220;Searching for Tamsen Donnerand#8221; July 30 and 31.
and#8220;I chanced upon the Donner Party by accident,and#8221; she said. In 1972, at Bread Loaf Writerand#8217;s Conference, writer William Lederer told her he dreamt she was going to write a book about people eating each other to survive. He said most people eat each other to survive and she would write a book that showed a better way.
Burton had absolutely no idea what he meant. Months later, while talking with her husband about geography for a story she was writing, he mentioned Donner Pass. and#8220;You know,and#8221; her husband said, and#8220;where they ate each other to survive.and#8221; She got out books and the name Tamsen Donner leapt off the page.
And so began an almost four decade odyssey that took Burton, her husband and five daughters every place Tamsen Donner had been: from Newburyport, Mass., Tamsenand#8217;s birthplace, to North Carolina where Tamsen lost her first family in a three month period. The Burtons camped on George and Tamsen Donnerand#8217;s farm in Springfield, Ill. and retraced the California/Oregon Trail. Even their dog was named Tamsen.
In and#8220;Impatient with Desireand#8221; Burton imagines Tamsenand#8217;s lost journal, particularly during the months she was trapped in the Sierra Nevada with her dying husband and five starving daughters.
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and#8220;Searching for Tamsen Donnerand#8221; is a memoir about two journeys: Burton and her family tracking Tamsen Donner and Burtonand#8217;s own journey trying to balance work and love. It also has Tamsenand#8217;s extant 17 letters in one place for the first time, many seen by few outside her descendants.
Meet Burton Friday, July 30, 6:30-8 p.m. at Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks in Truckee, 11310 Donner Pass Road. On July 31, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., she will read from her books every hour on the half hour outside the Emigrant Museum, Donner Memorial State Park, 12593 Donner Pass Road, Truckee (on Donner Lake).
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