Man Killed by Pheasant and Other Kinships

Grounded in place, in the great grasslands of the Midwest, John Price’s large-hearted memoir is nevertheless a story that knows no boundaries. Kinship is the thread that runs throughout, with creatures in his back yard and in the wild, with Swedish ancestors, with neighbors, with the Midwestern prairies, and with his wife and children. Often smiling at the earthy absurdities of ordinary life, and at other moments resonant with both joy and sorrow, Man Killed by Pheasant bears poignant witness to the bonds that link us all.


Midwest Booksellers Association pick for April, 2008.

Winner of Orion Magazine's "2009 Readers' Choice Award."

"To recognize books that deepen our
connection to the natural world, present
new ideas about our relationship with
nature, and achieve excellence in writing."

Honorable mention, "2009 ASLE Book Award for Environmental Writing", from the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment.

Selected book, "Scott County [IA] Reads Together", Spring 2010.


"Readers...will identify with [t]his narrative... The early chapters - childhood and adolescence - call to mind the self-deprecating humor and startling honesty of writer Anne Lamott. Price struggles mightily to find a "home" at school amid his peers, to earn social acceptance and discover some sense of identity. But raging acne, his short stature, and the constant drive for recognition and romance instead result in a string of hilarious coming-of-age fiascos... But the wonder of this book is how such humor is balanced by a Thoreau-like sensitivity, to the natural world and other things... Price sees with a deep and arresting clarity. Each chapter is a delicate weave of the I and the eye, of self and world... Kinship...thematically holds the book together [and] knits the wide-ranging stories into a whole, a life. Whether he is writing about fatherhood, or marriage, or gardening, or snow geese, readers will be captivated by his honest and funny search for meaning, for belonging, for home."--The Boston Globe

“John Price writes with exceptional lucidity, humor and wisdom about his unexceptional—and exemplary—American life. I spent my own youth in this very region, and I don’t know a better or more charming prose distillation of its sweet, homely beauty and melancholy. Man Killed by Pheasant…is a perfect non-fiction companion to the stories of Garrison Keillor and the movies of Alexander Payne.” —Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday and host of NPR’s Studio 360.

“A lively, lovely life of place and people, John Price’s memoir reveals to all of us nomads the art of how to ‘come home without ever having left.’”—Brenda Peterson, author of Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals

“John Price’s memoir is a powerful inquiry into what it means to be a Midwesterner. In a style that replicates the laconic surface and passionate undercurrents of that region, he has fashioned not only a personal story, but a powerful evocation of the land and its European immigrant families. Essential reading for—and of—the heartland.” —Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist’s Daughter

“This gentle yet probing memoir touchingly reminds us that anyone who’s grown up in a family and started a family has a story—though not everyone can tell theirs with the kind of grace, insight, and humanity John Price brings to his.”—Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters

“In this splendid memoir, John Price—a warm, compassionate, humorous narrator—takes us through a journey of awakening to the natural world. Price is ever passionate, ever engaged with the larger meanings of existence arising from small encounters with his environment. This is the kind of book you’ll want to read slowly, savoring each chapter for its richness of thought, its depth of emotion.”—Mary Swander, author of Out of this World: A Journey of Healing

“Price’s memoir will resonate not only with those of us who have Midwestern roots but with anyone who relishes a walk in the woods or a witty turn of phrase. Savor this book, it’s a delight, and don’t miss the chapter called “Nuts.’”—Lisa Renstrom, former President, Sierra Club

“John T. Price’s memoir, Man Killed by Pheasant, startles. His profound reflections on the place of memory and the memory of place quietly explode before your eyes. The flat landscapes of the prairie spike into a range of flushed and feathered emotion. The writing flies. It hovers and glides and always returns to earth, always transformed and transforming.”—Michael Martone, author of Racing in Place

“Price uses a self-effacing voice to guide us through his early days as a youngster in Fort Dodge, surrounded by relatives who had emigrated there decades earlier from Sweden. Roaming alone through the woods sharpened his eye for nature’s beauty, and his generous description of Iowa’s woodlands, rivers and prairies, much of it now inexorably giving way to farmland and development, is a treat for the nature lover…Price knows how to find beauty in quiet moments, watching his 10-month-old son crawl through the grass alongside their oversized house cat, or savoring the stillness of an early-morning stroll following an overnight snowfall. A winsome, perceptive coming-of-age memoir.”—Kirkus

“His work is marked by poignancy and sense of humor. Isotope considers Price the David Sedaris of nature writing and one of the most important younger nature writers.”— Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing

...[John Price] softly reveals the humor and uncertainty of youth and parenthood; the clarity of his nature writing exhibits the strength he finds in the ancient patterns of migratory birds and the flexibility of the Missouri River. Beyond his elegantly styled memoir, Price achieves a rich biographical portrait of the rural Midwest--its cultural and natural terrain--creating a character from the profound flatness of the region with as much life as he finds in his grandparents and children. --Booklist, starred review

"Price has a gentle but perceptive eye...and he's disarmingly honest throughout. His dry sense of humor, put to fine use in the title chapter, is sparse but stinging...This book has a strong agrarian sensibility and a careful method of self-examination that recalls Indiana-based essayist Scott Russell Sanders; it should resonate well with regional readers, but may also catch a groundswell of Green-related interest in urban centers."--Publishers Weekly

"[A] lyrical new memoir."--The Des Moines Register

"A delightful read...Price adds touches of humor at just the right times in ways recalling the writing of David Sedaris. Price's portrayal of a young man dealing with the occasional hard truth of life is funny at times, moving at others, and always engaging...[I]t is a joy to learn about Price's life, his development as a writer, and his development as a person."--The Omaha World-Herald

Selected Works

Nature Anthology
“Finally, here is a lovingly gathered bouquet of prairie wildflowers. This collection does not stop at commemorating all that we’ve lost, but revives the wildness in our imaginations—the first step toward restorative action.”—Julene Bair, author, The Ogallala Road
"If David Sedaris and Annie Dillard had a literary love child and raised him in Iowa, he would write like this." The Iowan
“…Price knows how to find beauty in quiet moments…A winsome, perceptive coming-of-age memoir.” Kirkus
“[A]n environmentalist version of The Pilgrim’s Progress.” Virginia Quarterly Review

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