by David Rhodes
When David Rhodes’ first three novels were published in the
mid-seventies, he was acclaimed as “one of the best eyes in recent
fiction” (John Gardner), and compared favorably to Sherwood
Anderson. In 1976, a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the
waist down, and unpublished for the subsequent three decades.
With Driftless, Rhodes returns to the midwestern landscape he knows so well, offering a fascinating and entirely unsentimental portrait of a town apparently left behind by the march of time. Home to a few hundred people yet absent from state maps, Words, Wisconsin, comes richly to life by way of an extraordinary cast of characters. Among them, a middle-aged couple guards the family farm from the mendacious schemes of their milk co-operative; a lifelong paraplegic suddenly regains the use of her legs, only to find herself crippled by fury at her sister and caretaker; a woman of conflicting impulses and pastor of the local Friends church stumbles upon an enlightenment she never expected; a cantankerous retiree discovers a cougar living in his haymow, haunting him like a childhood memory; and a former drifter forever alters the ties that bind a community together.
At once intimate and funny, wise and generous, Driftless is an unforgettable story of contemporary life in rural America.
Praise for Driftless:
MILKWEED NATIONAL FICTION PRIZE WINNER ALL IOWA READS SELECTION 2010
“Reminiscent of Steinbeck...with a little touch of Michener...[Driftless] offers deep philosophical and meditative asides.”
—Alan Cheuse, on NPR's All Things Considered
“David Rhodes’ new novel, Driftless, is reason to celebrate….[He] has not lost
one ounce of the mastery for which he was recognized in the first place.”
—Kevin Larimer, in a feature on David Rhodes in Poets & Writers
"Driftless is just marvelous." —Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City, IA
“A fast moving story about small town life.” —Jeffrey Trachtenberg, in a feature on David Rhodes in The Wall Street Journal
“Driftless is such a rewarding read—a surely written, patient book about small town life…[It] shares a rhythm with the farming community it documents, and its reflective pace is well-suited to characters who are far more comfortable with hard work than with words....A wry generous book.”
—Yvonee Zipp, The Christian Science Monitor
“His Robert Alman-esque new novel, Driftless, marks his triumphant reemergence in the book world after thirty-three years…”
—Kera Bolonik, intro to Q&A with David Rhodes in BookForum
"The best work of fiction to come out of the midwest in many years."
"Driftless has been a long time coming, but definitely worth the wait...vividly imagined, shrewd, and compassionate. He is a master at uncovering the extraordinary lives of seemly ordinary people. The characters of his small town rural town become as mysterious, interconnected, and richly idiosyncratic as the landscape they struggle against and embrace. A wonderful novel."
"This novel shows how rural people deal with a world they can’t quite control;
it echoes the late 19th century’s Naturalism, in that sense. It’s a beautiful
novel that captures the essence of the Midwest perfectly." (five stars)
—Patrick Andrews, Age 29, Male, Arlington Heights, IL on Goodreads.com (where it has a rating of 3.94 after 877 reviews)
"Such an uncommon novel...full of nuance, full of threat, full of action, full
of sorrow, full of the whole scope of human experience....a very serious,
gorgeous, funny and really beautiful novel."
—Anna Clark, The Collagist, from her YouTube video
Praise for David Rhodes upon publication in the 1970's:
"One of the best eyes in recent fiction...Nothing in Rhodes' vision is
—John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist
"A brilliant writer."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
Visit the publishers website to purchase a copy and read the many book reviews