Iowa Alumni Magazine | April 2007 | Reviews

Dreaming the Mississippi by Katherine Fischer

By Shelbi Thomas
Dreaming the Mississippi

Layers of sludge and story first pulled her in. Ever since the day she laid eyes on this rambunctious river, Katherine Fischer can't get enough of the Mississippi. In Dreaming the Mississippi, she invites you also to be lured by its muddy waters.

This collection of personal essays celebrates the affection and admiration that Fischer and others who live along the Mississippi's banks feel for Old Man River. Through engaging stories about the river and its history, Fischer explains how the Mississippi brings people together and becomes the heart of each community it flows through.

She introduces readers to a multitude of lively characters, from boat captains to marina regulars, but the Mississippi is undoubtedly the star. Inspiration to countless authors, musicians, leisure-seekers, and entrepreneurs, the river calls them to leave behind the stresses of everyday life to work or play in its waters.

Despite the book's overall relaxed tone, tension does surface in Dreaming the Mississippi. Using examples from Iowa floods and Hurricane Katrina, Fischer illustrates the friction that exists between humans and nature. The book presents both the advantages and disadvantages of allowing the Mississippi to take its natural course, but concludes that no matter how humans try to tame the river, "nature always has the last word."