First, I think this book was written to elevate the author's self esteem. She accomplishes this by placing herself above most of the other, common people around her, the ones she's writing about. I think she started out with a good dose of too much self importance to begin with and, for me, that keeps getting in the way of reading her book. While reading, I keep feeling like Norris is trying to impress me with all this depth and insightfulness that she alone possesses. We need to appreciate her book because she was clever enough to write it. Hogwash.
Norris seems quite intent on equating living in the west river Dakotas with living in a monastery... or a desert. Interesting idea, but not in a good way. She doesn't manage to pull it off either. Currently I'm living in a desert and let me tell you, even west river SD looks verdant compared to a real desert. I have also lived in SD, although not even close to the area she is attempting to discuss like an anthropological subject. I can't imagine her small town neighbors were too impressed with her book, but then I don't think Norris ever thought they'd be whippy enough to read it. She's pretty darn sure that the residents won't say they "didn't just fall off the turnip truck," because she's convinced they'd never managed to find the truck in the first place, let alone climb on board.
Let me end this by saying I didn't like this book at all. Normally I push through and make myself finish a book if I think they'll be some redeeming part to it. I don't think that's going to happen here. I might send this to a friend who has her masters (or Ph.D. by now) and is working for the state of SD's historical society. It might depress her to read about how ignorant and totally uncool the inhabitants of her state are, but she needs to know. She can tell her whole large, well educated family how sad they all are to be in or from SD. I wonder if Norris continued to live in SD after she wrote this?