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Book Rocambole: How we found simplicity in the Vermont Northeast Kingdom by Ziad H Moukheiber (2010-11-28)


Rocambole: How we found simplicity in the Vermont Northeast Kingdom by Ziad H Moukheiber (2010-11-28)

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Review Text

  • By Timothy J. Harrigan on April 25, 2011

    There was, it seems, a profound clarity and a true vision behind, what appears at first blush to be a rash decision.When Ziad and Lamia packed up the three kids and headed on a day trip to Vermont's Northeast Kingdom it was not with the knowledge that they would find, and purchase, a somewhat rundown farmhouse somewhere near the middle of nowhere.The knowledge that did travel with them that day was the knowledge that there are other important things in life that might not be learned or experienced in their current high-tech, high speed urban lifestyle. Ziad and Lamia knew that the bells and whistles of the modern world are not enough to insure either happiness or moral grounding for their children.And so, in search of their children's future, they headed out that day on another of their periodic excursions in search of a Place.They found it, bought it, and went to work re-making it in their own image.This is not the usual burn-out story typified by Bob Newhart falling for the pastoral myth and leaving the rat race to run a Vermont Inn. Rather it seems to be more about integrating the old and true values of close community and cooperation with the modern world.But whatever it is, it's a wonderful, readable and inspiring story. The author writes with a clean and direct prose style. He tells his story, honestly and simply, in the vignette style, making himself the punchline of the joke as often as not. He is it seems, not so much the father in the adventures he recounts, as the head kid. He has a joyous childlike enthusiasm that is the real lynchpin of the book.The book is written with self-deprecating humor. The author is legally blind and appears to forget this frequently. You cannot help but cringe and laugh at the same time as he recounts his stories of careening around the property courting disaster - first on the Bobcat and later on the Purple Dragon, an 18,000 pound excavator. Lamia, it seems has to keep a close eye on him.In the end, we see through the simple recounting of stories, how the author and his family find and shape their special place and insinuate themselves into the fabric of a real community.

  • By KTagai on January 30, 2012

    My bad feeling started when the author said, "I was looking for a minimum of fifty acres. I was guessing; I had no idea how much was fifty acres. I later discovered that fifty acres is a lot of land." The poor wording in the sentence is the authors, not mine. Any editor worth his salt would tell this author that expository reading does not engage an audience. All through the book I was lectured at, given lists of animals and features that were never linked back to the author- had he seen moose, quail, turkeys, coyotes, foxes and fisher cats in his forest and fields or does he just know of their existence? Throughout the prose is a cold, clinical distance between the narrator and the narrative, we are never shown any emotional depth, but we are never SHOWN anything at all in scene, as I said before, the entire book is exposition. On top of all of that the condescension the author shows is unbearable. Obviously, this man is in the upper class, but he is trying to convince me of his search for humble, local life. I can tell you the locals do not build a $100,000 dollar slate terrace on their newly purchased, upgraded farmhouse. Vermont is known for being at the lower end of the income scale and the farmers pinch and beg and work with duct tape, pride and luck. Save your time, pick up Elliot Merrick's Green Mountain Farm, or Kimball's The Dirty Life for similar stories written with compelling, readable and at the very least properly edited prose.

  • By Charles Reader on April 19, 2011

    Anyone who has yearned for a simpler life away from the rat race of the city will be delighted by "Rocambole." Author Ziad Moukheiber weaves a charming, witty and heartfelt story about how he and his family bought an old farm in Vermont and re-discovered rural pleasures. They are welcomed by the locals and immerse themselves in the rustic life where kids swim in a pond and neighbors pitch in to help each other. Highly recommended for city slickers and suburbanites who want to get their feet muddy and maybe even grow their own garlic (the "Rocambole" of the title) to sell to a local restaurant.

  • By Larry Mintzer on April 26, 2011

    It is wonderful when a book can inform and touch a reader on many levels. Rocambole (a variety of garlic) succeedes in offering the practical like how to rehab a country home, how to start and develop a garden and farming business, how to keep the kids busy during school vacations and excited about the joys of discovery, and how to meet/greet/and win the respect of locals in the Northeast Kingdom of VT.But that doesn't complete the offerings Ziad has pieced together through his honest, accidental and often funny efforts. More than "how to", Rocambole is a guide to developing deeper interpersonal relations that transcend the gulf between city and country, locals and out-of-towners, and between parents and kids. Ziad's family sets down roots, not just in soil and structure, but in the community and he draws the reader in with great tales and fun adventures, and even some comical mishaps at the expense of his ego.All of this is conveyed with a light self-deprecating, wide-eyed enthusiasm and sense of humor. This is a great read, even if you don't need to find an old steam bed to re-fill the swimming hole, but want to share with your kids a great family adventure.

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