A new book written by a northwest Iowa native focuses on the Emmetsburg area and true tales about life and love. Martha McCarty grew up in Emmetsburg during what she says was the seemingly-idyllic time between World War II and Vietnam.
The non-fiction work, “Five Island Diaries: Stories of Love, Lost and Found,” is a collection of linked stories that uses a family farm and Palo Alto County’s Five Island Lake as the backdrop. “These are true stories and when I realized that this book would be published, I had to call everyone I’d written about because I didn’t really expect to see it in print.”
McCarty says she has trouble telling in just a few sentences what the book is about, as it’s not exactly about her life. “It’s my characters who come and go but they’re your characters, too,” McCarty says. “You have the first kiss that didn’t go well and you had the grandmother and you had the teachers, some who liked you and some who did not appreciate you or influence you. You had the brothers and the sisters.” She says the characters all share at least two common threads — love — and the lake.
“I couldn’t just say, ‘Gee, the lake was part of our life,’ but indeed it was,” McCarty says. “I even feel that life is like the lake in that it can really shimmer and shine and be buoyant but there’s some deepness and some undercurrents and some cold.”
McCarty, now living in Kansas City, says she’s getting e-mail from enthralled readers, not just from Iowa, but from Connecticut to California. The book is a finalist for the 2008 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence. McCarty started her career as an obituary writer for the Fort Dodge Messenger and has since done a host of book reviews and feature stories on the arts, theatre and authors in a variety of publications. For more information, visit her website .