OVERRIDE

My Family and Other Hazards

A Memoir

June Melby

Henry Holt and Co.

A funny, heartwarming memoir about saying goodbye to your childhood home, in this case a quirky, one-of-a-kind, family-run miniature golf course in the woods of Wisconsin

When June Melby was ten years old, her parents decided on a whim to buy the miniature golf course in the small Wisconsin town where they vacationed every summer. Without any business experience or outside employees, the family sets out to open Tom Thumb Miniature Golf to the public. Naturally, there are bumps along the way. In My Family and Other Hazards, Melby recreates all the squabbling, confusion, and ultimately triumph, of one family’s quest to build something together, and brings to life the joys of one of America’s favorite pastimes. In sharp, funny prose, we get the hazards that taunted players at each hole, and the dedication and hard work that went into each one’s creation. All the familiar delights of summer are here—snowcones and popcorn and long days spent with people you love.

Melby’s relationship with the course is love-hate from the beginning, given the summer’s freedom it robs her of, but when her parents decide to sell the course years later, her panicked reaction surprises even her. Now an adult living in Hollywood, having flown the Midwest long ago, she flies back to the course to help run it before the sale goes through, wondering if she should try to stop it. As the clock ticks, she reflects on what the course meant to her both as a child and an adult, the simpler era that it represents, and the particular pains of losing your childhood home, even years after you’ve left it.

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The Ticket Booth: Prologue

The state of Wisconsin looks like a hand. Set the book down. Hold up your right palm. Stick out your thumb, and lo, you have Door County, a thumb-shaped peninsula of tourism lapping into Lake Michigan, where summertime visitors can drive on crowded roads and buy cherry pies, cherry liquors, cherry-painted shot glasses, and stay at overpriced cherry-themed motels. At the top of your hand, between your extended fingers, in the northernmost part of the state, sprawl lakes and rivers and other water-soaked lands generally too overrun with mosquitoes to be habitable

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REVIEWS

Praise for My Family and Other Hazards

"A wonderful, witty account of growing up on a mini-golf course…In a droll, understated voice that recalls Dorothy Parker, Melby writes of the years her family owned and operated Tom Thumb . . . The book is packed with self-contained vignettes that have the shapeliness of a well-told joke."—The Christian Science Monitor

"Charming . . . This book is a ball . . .[Melby’s] descriptions of this close-knit crew endear and amuse."—Bust

"Melby scores a hole-in-one with her hilarious and heartwarming tale of her childhood summers spent working on her family’s miniature-golf course and her bittersweet final visit during its last season in business."—American Way

"[A] charming—and moving—debut work . . . It’s all here: humorous memories of mishaps, adventure, as well as teenage frustrations and sibling rivalries, all told in Melby’s amazingly deadpan voice."—Cedar Rapids Gazette

"A nostalgic, hilarious look at [Melby’s] Midwestern upbringing."—Popsugar

"Wickedly funny . . . A warm and refreshing summer read, one that explores the meaning of family and the emotional significance of losing a childhood home." —Bustle

"A summer delight . . . Melby’s ode to Wisconsin is rich with detail."— Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Nerdily, I most enjoyed the passages of the book that focused on running the course and how the family coped with a routine as daily as farming, only with more night hours… Middle children may relish June's accounts of sibling rivalry and envy…[Melby] has recaptured a family's life among the Windmills, putters and sno-cone machine." —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"With every laugh, Melby’s wise and warm and loving memoir delivers something else: something that will make us think, and smile, after we’ve dried our eyes and thought about our own lives and loves, in the way the best-told stories will tend to do." —The Decorah Journal

"Clever, outrageously funny . . . My Family and Other Hazards is a nostalgic look back at Melby’s experiences and the inevitability of letting go of one’s childhood." —Express Milwaukee

"Enchanting . . . An outpouring of tender, witty memories . . . Melby showcases her corny, unaffected Midwestern humor in this inspired work." —Publishers Weekly

"Witty . . . A lot of fun and enjoyable to navigate." —Kirkus

"[A] nostalgic read for those who want to travel back to bug-bitten summer days when nothing seemed more wondrous than a perfectly frothy puff of cotton candy after a hard-fought game of miniature golf." —Booklist

"My Family and Other Hazards is a winning, charming memoir about summers spent at a family-owned mini-golf course in Wisconsin. I would have loved this even if I wasn’t the former Junior Putt-Putt Champion of Chautauqua, New York. Funny and nostalgic without being sentimental, Melby deftly captures her family’s seemingly endless lakeside summers and the inevitable letting go of childhood. A perfect summer book." —Rob Spillman, editor of Tin House

"I bet you’ve never picked up a memoir about miniature golf before now. Neither had I! But June Melby’s deeply funny and endearing book goes far beyond novelty to tell an evocative story about memory, family, and the perfection of Midwestern summers."—Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.

“Thanks to June's witty and poetic recollections, you don't just read this book -- you become part of the Melby family.  And that's a helluva ride, because besides being wildly funny, the Melbys have a lot to teach us all about the meaning of the word ‘success.’”—Mishna Wolff, author of I’m Down

"In this utterly hilarious and deeply moving memoir, June Melby recounts her unusual childhood growing up in a family who ran a miniature golf course. Impossible to put down for its witty and conversational style, you'll turn the last page reminded that the places we call home are often carved from the times we feel the farthest from it. An impressive debut from a deserving writer."—Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance

"My Family and Other Hazards is a perfect balance of wit and warmth: you start off laughing at a perfectly executed running joke about the forgotten youngest child or the portrait of a family's competitive, compulsive generosity, but by the end you realize June Melby has been building a rich, generous, and loving portrait of her parents all along."—Michelle Wildgen, author of Bread and Butter

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • June Melby

  • June Melby's work has appeared in McSweeney’s, LA Weekly, and National Lampoon Magazine, among other places. In 2011 she was a Writing Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and in 2003 received the International Artist Award and residency from the City of Hamburg Kulturbehorde (Cultural Affairs Department). In 2002 she was the winner of the Children’s Poetry Award at the Edinburgh International Poetry Festival. She lives in Decorah, Iowa.
  • June Melby Parker Deen
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Available Formats and Book Details

My Family and Other Hazards

A Memoir

June Melby

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Henry Holt and Co.

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