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Leaving Rollingstone

Leaving Rollingstone

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A Memoir

Author Kevin Fenton

Minnesota Historical Society Press (September 1, 2013)

Leaving Rollingstone is the story of how a Twin Cities advertising writer and novelist reclaimed the enduring values and surprising vitality of his small-town Minnesota boyhood.


$17.95 paperback available September 2017

In 1959, Kevin Fenton was born on a family farm overlooking Rollingstone, Minnesota—a tight-knit village founded by Luxembourgers and so Catholic that the parish school was the only school in town. The farm, and Kevin’s memory, is filled with the closeness of his large family. Dennis, the oldest brother, drives everyone—rather dangerously—to school. His sisters dance to records in the afternoons. At bedtime, knock-knock jokes flow between the siblings’ rooms. Kevin has the powerful sense of being born lucky.

Soon, however, the farm is lost; the school closed; the family fractured. The family’s move from the farm, while not all bad, leaves Kevin yearning for Rollingstone and the old family home. He begins a sometimes self-destructive search for new ways to define himself—in friendship, in art, in words—that lasts well into adulthood. And while his losses are still grievous, he begins to see new circuits of possibility and rediscover old sources of strength.

Leaving Rollingstone, set in a time of major social change, is a portrait of the inevitability of loss and the power of choice, about how a big-city ad man and novelist reclaimed the enduring values and surprising vitality of his small-town boyhood.

Author information

Kevin Fenton, author of Merit Badges, which won the AWP Award for the Novel and the Friends of American Writers Award, works in advertising and teaches fiction. He lives in St. Paul.

Reviews and news

In the Media:

MinnPost Interview

Star Tribune

Winona Daily News

Star Tribune profile

Rochester Post

Large Hearted Boy Book Notes and Playlist

Advance Praise:

“Kevin Fenton may have left Rollingstone, but no reader of this astonishing memoir will ever leave it behind. His tour de force work of heartbreak and mordant hilarity is not only a brilliant evocation of the eclipsed worlds of valiant family farming and ardent Catholicism but a sharp meditation on the ways pop culture has levitated America from pastoral innocence into a spiraling urban maturity. A moving, profoundly poetic story of family solidarity against heavy odds, Leaving Rollingstone is the most important memoir to come out of the Midwest (or anywhere) in years, an indispensable work of American autobiography.”
Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist’s Daughter and A Romantic Education

“Kevin Fenton bowled me over with the wit and warmth in Merit Badges, his stellar debut novel. Now, with Leaving Rollingstone, he offers a heart-stirring and inspired memoir of growing up on a family farm. How he has managed to tell such a gorgeous and original coming-of-age story without succumbing to nostalgia, I can’t imagine. But the payoff for us lucky readers is enormous. Kevin Fenton is one of the sweetest, most devilish writers out there.”
Peter Geye, author of Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road

“An excellent and absorbing book: or, a kind of quilt in which the rural schools and farming communities and sports teams of a bygone Minnesota are stitched together with lucid, nimble prose. Some droll descriptions of things recollected, too—of nuns, Minneapolis freeways, and Spirographs, among others. Leaving Rollingstone commemorates a place, but more importantly, a life.”
Brian Kimberling, author of Snapper

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 208 pages
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873519137

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