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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  70 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In August of 2001, Kaethe Schwehn needed her own, personal Eden. She was a twenty-two-year-old trying to come to terms with a failed romance, the dissolution of her parents' marriage, and her own floundering faith. At first, Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center nestled in the Cascade Mountains, seemed like a utopian locale: communal meals, consensus decision-making, a ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published October 8th 2014 by Cascade Books
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Shirley Showalter
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This slender memoir will stick with you much longer than many bulkier books. Every sentence in it glows like the orange remains of the mining process -- called tailings. Tailings turns out to be an apt title, not just for the beauty but also because tailings are toxic, veritably eternal, perfect symbols for the "terrible beauty" writers aspire to.

The vivid details of this story, which takes place 13 years before publication of the book, reminded me of the classic memoir Speak, Memory by Vladimir
Mattias Olshausen
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
I spent 14 months at Holden about ten years after Schwehn did, and have been there several times since. It's a wonderful place, but this memoir serves as a reminder that life there can be difficult, too. Although she sometimes goes into a level of detail about mundane things that I find tedious, Schwehn is overall a good writer.

I think the reason why I didn't like Tailings better is that I could not relate to most aspects of Schwehn's Holden experience, which mostly comes across as sad and tawdr
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ahhh, some nice insightful creative nonfiction that tempers the insightful creative nonfiction with cynical 20-something isolation and dullness. I really liked this. I also finished this wanting more, yet I guess that's exactly the point.

If you're in one of the "in between moments" of life, I think you'll like this.
Aimee Bissonette
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This memoir of a year spent in a remote, sometimes harsh but wonderfully spiritual place was pure pleasure to read. Crafted by a gifted author, nature lover, and old soul, it will remind readers of their own young selves and the work it takes to grow.
Hannah Notess
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: northwest
I loved reading about the rhythms of life throughout the year at Holden Village. Made me want to visit again!
Katherine Medbery-Oleson
Intriguing writing.

Several quotes stood out to me, including:

"You're not the same as when you came. Neither are we." - summer sign posted (p. ix)

"Work fills the present while we tackle the more daunting task of what we will do with the future." (p. 10)

"Vocation, for Buechner, wasn't just about serving God through work, it was about serving God through the work that you do best, finding the place where, in his words, "your deep gladness meets the world's deep need."" (p. 10)

"...instead, the ceili
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Though I loved all the reminders and memories of being at Holden Village several times, I was disappointed in this memoir. Schwehn relives her year at Holden in 2001 at age 23. Her own story is integrated well with Holden's history and the everyday life in a Lutheran Retreat Center.
Heidi Barr
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! A wonderful glimpse into life at Holden Village and how life can shift over the course of a year.
Mike Brubaker
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
A brief memoir of a year in a Lutheran retreat center in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. The story fails to capture. I really don't care that the author, Kaethe Schwehn, suffers through a failed romance. I am still puzzling over the book title. I understand that the retreat center is built atop the tailings of a mining camp. If she is trying to suggest this "superfund site" is a metaphor for her failed romance, well her comparison fell short. I just have no sympathy for the author.
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
A friend from Minnesota asked me if I had read this book “because it mentions Wenatchee.” It is a reminiscence/story of the time the author spent in 2002 (and earlier) in Holden Village, a Lutheran community center only accessible by boat at the far end of Lake Chelan (Wenatchee would be the largest nearby city, but it is hours away). The (semi)-permanent residents of Holden Village are structured as an intentional community and the author talks about the importance and difficulties of such a co ...more
For such a slender book, this took a long time to read. The story is of a young woman (early 20's) who signs on to spend a year as staff at a remote Lutheran retreat center in the Cascade Mountains where she has been going with her family since she was a child. She expects her boyfriend (whom she calls The Intended for about half the book, before giving him his name) to come along a little bit later to be with her, but soon receives a letter from him saying that he's not coming, he's going to Eu ...more
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Sex, drinking, swearing -- just another memoir of time spent at a church camp/retreat center. But, fortunately, there's more. Kaethe Schwehn writes of the nine months she spent at Holden Village high in the Cascade mountains of Washington State. She was 23,recently out of college and applying to MFA programs in writing while marking time living in this intentional Christian faith community. At the same time she is struggling with a break up from her boyfriend, her "Intended" as she calls him, wh ...more
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book won the Minnesota Book Award recently, so I thought I'd buy it. It is written extremely well with images that are fresh and unusual. The author writes almost entirely about her own feelings, so the many of the other characters in the memoir are just known by name, but we have no idea of what their personalities might be like.

The thing that amazed me is that the whole experience for the author is based on a year at a Lutheran retreat for ingenuous hippies. The author stays a year, but s
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked Schwehn's writing. The story itself was rather unremarkable, but the way in which she articulated the mundane and lackluster was surprisingly engaging. One of my favorite quotes: "So much of my own unremarkable suffering, I realize now, springs from my own inability to reconcile the life I want to lead, the person I want to become, with the life I am in and the person I truly am."
Katherine Pershey
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Well, there were plenty of beautiful passages. But such a melancholic narrator... She really captures what it's like to be a angsty early-twenty something who has a broken heart and notebooks full of poems. So maybe it was just too close for comfort.
Oct 11, 2015 added it
Shelves: debut-authors, memoir
Love this memoir. Read it in one sitting. Smart, funny, people I wanted to spend time with, big issues to wrestle with, fresh humor, and insight into a community and a place that's fascinating and complex. The pages nearly turn themselves.

Recommend very highly.
Ian Miles
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tailings contains wonderful reflections on simple living in an intentional community and the complex questions one grapples with in such a community. When I was finished reading, I was hungry for more!
Susan Halvor
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir, both in the author's recounting of and reflecting on the end of a relationship, but also her experience at Holden Village, a place very dear to me. Her book evoked many of my own memories and experiences at Holden and in my 20s. Loved it!
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sort of a stream-of-consciousness about a gal who attends Holden Village in Washington and tries to heal after a breakup
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Kaethe Schwehn holds a B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College and an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her memoir, Tailings, won the Minnesota Book Award for creative nonfiction in 2015 and her debut novel, The Rending and the Nest, will be published by Bloomsbury in February of 2018. She has been the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board grant and a Loft Mentor Series award. Her fiction, p ...more
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