Come Again No More
The second volume in Todd’s planned memoir-turned-fiction trilogy (after Sun Going Down), Come Again No More can also easily stand on its own as a memorable story of the hard scrabble life on the dusty Nebraska plains during the Great Depression. Emaline Hughes knows what hard times are: she’s moved a lot in her young life, seen her brother sent off to live with her estranged grandfather, and now, watched her mother die of TB. Her grandfather, Eli Paint, arrives in a big Cadillac to make amends, but Emaline is having none of it. She sends him back to Wyoming and sets about surviving these horrible times by herself. When boxer Jake McCloskey comes to town, though, her plans for saving to buy a local farm go awry, as Jake woos her away from the tiny piece of stability she’d gained.
The chronicle of Emaline and Jake’s life together intermingles with Eli’s more successful, at least in Great Depression terms, life at his Wyoming ranch. The despair Emaline feels as the wind howls day after day, season after season, as the grit and dirt of the Dust Bowl make their way through even the tightest of sealed windows, is palpable. Her desire to settle down, to be part of a family, is strong, yet her sense of impending disaster so ingrained that she has difficulty accepting any assistance or luck that comes her way. There’s not a lot of either in this story, which makes it all the sweeter on the occasions when it does occur.
There are obvious parallels with other Dust Bowl novels such as The Grapes of Wrath, but the perspectives and stories are different enough that Come Again No More is a worthy entry in the genre, and a fine salute to Todd’s family history.