Press kit for Barnstorm
Barnstorm press kit home | Reviews | List of the contributors | Publicity statement | Excerpt from the introduction | Excerpt from Kelly Cherry's work | Contributors' bios | Editor's bio | Editor's photo | Cover image |
Contemporary Wisconsin Fiction
Edited by Raphael Kadushin
Publication date: February 2005
ISBN 0-299-20854-0 Paper $19.95
List of the contributors:
Dwight Allen, Dean Bakopoulos, Margaret Benbow, Anthony Bukoski, Kelly Cherry, Tenaya Darlington, Mack Friedman, Jane Hamilton, John Hildebrand, Jesse Lee Kercheval, J. S. Marcus, Judith Claire Mitchell, Lorrie Moore, Ann Shaffer and Ron Wallace
Flyover Zone or Overlooked Literary Mecca? Everyone's seen by now that cartoon of a New Yorker's vision of America, with everything from West Virginia to Nevada broad-brushed as "Flyover Zone." It's a joke on New Yorkers, but wouldn't some people you know say the map is a fair cop? In other words, is it just that people on the coasts of our country have insular mindsets, or is it simply true that culture doesn't emerge from America's heartland like it does from the coasts?
Our experience with a new book has brought us right into the melee that tends to swell up around those questions whenever you bring them up at parties (or at least at nerdy parties). We might have expected as much from a book aiming for the national literary stage while including "Wisconsin" in the title (and without referencing cheese or football).
But, as editor Raphael Kadushin points out with characteristic insightful bite in the introduction to Barnstorm: Contemporary Wisconsin Fiction, most regional writing really isn't "regional" anymore:
Southern writers no longer write about church dinners in a hush puppy voice, unless they're really bad ones, and Midwestern writers rarely wax lyrical over barn dances and bratwurst, unless they're joking.
Not only thatBarnstorm also includes some high-caliber names, like Lorrie Moore, Jane Hamilton, Kelly Cherry, and up-and-comer Dean Bakopoulos.
And yet, while many we've spoken with on the East Coast as well as in the Midwest are intrigued by the goals of this collection, not everyone is convinced. So apparently, Barnstorm is more than just a collection of great fiction writing. It's also a lightning rod for a controversial issue. We invite you to form your own opinion. Are "flyover" literati unjustly trivialized? Or is it our provincial arrogance to think this particular book worthy of a small piece of the national spotlight?
"If there is one identifiable quality that does mark these stories as Midwestern it may be their sense of autonomythe fact that their authors have found their own place in that worldand their lack of pretension. All good writers eventually develop their own voice but any writer living in Wisconsin finds independence quickly, because there is no local culture club dictating style, and there is none of the intense literary rivalry that forces urban writers to keep looking over their shoulder for emerging fashions. Because they are living in a place that isn't consumed by trends or momentary culture-makingone of the reasons so many artists move hereheartland writers can soak in a quiet that lets them develop their own style. Don't mistake lack of pretension, though, for that butch, flat, faux Hemingway style that is a pretension in itself, or any kind of earthy, pioneering sensibility. In fact, a lot of these writers wouldn't know a cornfield from a wheat field. What an independent style really means is that you're writing a story guilelessly, so that your only impulse is to tell the story as truly as you can."from the introduction to Barnstorm
Excerpt from Kelly Cherry's "As It is In Heaven"
"When my mother wrote to me that she had seen my father sitting in his chair in the kitchen, I wondered if her mind was going too, and perhaps it wasn't even Alzheimer's. I knew from experience that losing someone you love can sensitize you to every memory of him, so that his memory is as present to you as he used to be. It would surely not be difficult to confuse the presence of the memory with the man himself. 'Dear Nina,' my mother wrote back, when I suggested this, 'don't be a dope. I do not have a sentimental bone in my body, and if your father is not in the kitchen, who the hell is sitting in there scarfing ice cream every night?'"
. . . When I bumped into my father in the kitchen, I told myself I was seeing things. The power of suggestion coupled with repressed hysteria and total tiredness was causing me to hallucinate. My father just shook his head, slowly, sadly, the way he'd always done when he was feeling pessimistic.
'It's true,' he said. 'I'm really here.' He sighed heavily, as if this was not only unlikely but lamentable."
from "As It Is In Heaven" by Kelly Cherry
Dwight Allen, author of The Green Suit and Judge, worked at The New Yorker for ten years after receiving his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. His stories have been published in Georgia Review, Missouri Review, Shenandoah, and New Stories from the South, among other publications. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
Dean Bakopoulos was born in Detroit in 1975, attended the University of Michigan, and then earned his M.F.A. from the University of WisconsinMadison. His first novel, Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, was published in 2005 to glowing reviews from the New York Times and Publishers Weekly. He is currently the executive director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council.
Margaret Benbow's poems have been published in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Antioch Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, and many others. Her work has appeared in anthologies such as The Journey Home, Wisconsin Poetry, and most recently the new edition of John Frederick Nim's Western Wind. Benbow has won several awards, including the Paulette Chandler Literary Award from the Council of Wisconsin Writers. In 1997 she received the Walt McDonald First Book Award for her collection Stalking Joy. Her short stories have been published in Zoetrope, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. Benbow, who lives in Madison, is currently at work on a novel.
Anthony Bukoski grew up in Superior, Wisconsin. He teaches English at the University of Wisconsin in the port city where his Polish emigré grandparents settled. The author of four story collections, Time between Trains, Polonaise, Children of Strangers, and Twelve below Zero, he has been awarded the Creative Arts Award from the Polish American Historical Association and has twice win the Anne Powers Book-Length Fiction Prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. In 2002 he was named the R. V. Cassill Fellow in Fiction from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation.
Kelly Cherry's most recent books are We Can Still Be Friends, a novel, and History, Passion, Freedom, Death, and Hope: Prose about Poetry. Her collection The Society of Friends, from which "As It Is in Heaven" is taken, received the Dictionary of Literary Biography Award for a Distinguished Volume of Short Stories in 2000. Her fiction has been represented in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, and New Stories from the South. She also holds the Hanes Prize in poetry. She is Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of WisconsinMadison and sometimes serves as the Visiting Eminent Scholar at the Humanities Center of the University of AlabamaHuntsville.
Tenaya Darlington lives in Madison and writes for Isthmus. Her poetry book, Madame Deluxe, was winner of the National Poetry Series. She has been previously published in the Atlanta Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Southern Poetry Review. Her work also appears in Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops 1998 and In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal. Her first novel, Maybe Baby, was published in 2004.
Mack Friedman is the author of Lambda Literary Award-nominated Strapped for Cash: A History of American Hustler Culture. His work has also appeared in the anthologies Obsessed and Wonderlands. His first novel is scheduled to be published in 2005. He now lives in Pennsylvania, where the rivers run iron oxide.
Jane Hamilton lives, works, and writes in an orchard farmhouse in Wisconsin. Her short stories have appeared in Harper's magazine. Her first novel, The Book of Ruth, won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award for best first novel and was a selection of the Oprah Book Club. Her second novel, A Map of the World, also a selection of the Oprah Book Club, was an international bestseller. Her novel The Short History of a Prince was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 1998, won the Heartland Prize for Fiction, and was short-listed for Britain's Orange Prize. Her most recent novel is Disobedience.
John Hildebrand is professor of creative writing at the University of WisconsinEau Claire. He is the author of two books, Mapping the Farm: The Chronicle of a Family and Reading the River: A Voyage Down the Yukon. His work has been anthologized in Best American Sport Writing 1999, American Nature Writing 1997, The Great Land: Reflections on Alaska, and The River Reader. His articles and essays have appeared in Harper's, Audubon, Manoa, Outside, and The Missouri Review. He is the recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship, a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship, the BANTA Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and the Maxwell Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship.
Jesse Lee Kercheval was born in France and raised in Florida. She is the author of six books, including the poetry collection Dog Angel, the novel The Museum of Happiness, and the writing text Building Fiction. She is the Sally Mead Hands Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, where she directs both the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing. She lives in Madison with her husband and two children.
J. S. Marcus was born in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of WisconsinMadison. He is the author of a book of stories, The Art of Cartography, and a novel, The Captain's Fire. His fiction is included in the anthology Wonderlands. His nonfiction has appeared in many publications, including the New York Times and the New York Review of Books. He currently lives in Berlin, where he is completing his second novel.
Judith Claire Mitchell is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a recipient of a James Michener/Copernicus Society of America Fellowship. She was a James C. McCreight Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and currently teaches creative writing at the University of WisconsinMadison. Her debut novel, The Last Day of the War, was published in 2004 to critical acclaim.
Lorrie Moore is the author of five books, the most recent of which is the story collection Birds of America, which won The Irish Times Prize for International Literature. She is currently the Delmore Schwartz Professor in the Humanities at the University of WisconsinMadison.
Ann Shaffer's poems have been published in Poetry. Her essays have appeared in Isthmus, the Milwaukee Journal, and other publications, and her criticism has received a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She is the author of the children's book The Camel Express and has published numerous stories and poems for children. Shaffer has also been a commentator on Wisconsin Public Radio's To the Best of Our Knowledge. She is currently writing a novel and lives in Madison.
Ron Wallace was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He is Felix Pollak Professor of Poetry and Halls-Bascom Professor of English at the University of WisconsinMadison. He serves as codirector of the Program in Creative Writing, which he began in 1975, and as editor of the University of Wisconsin Press Poetry Series (Pollak and Brittingham Prizes), which he founded in 1985. His most recent poetry books include Long for This World and The Uses of Adversity. In 2000, he won the "World's Greatest Short Short Story Contest."
Raphael Kadushin is humanities editor at the University of Wisconsin Press, editor of Wonderlands: Good Gay Travel Writing, and a contributing editor at Bon Appétit magazine. He contributes to a wide range of publicationsamong them National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Condé Nast Traveler, Town & Country Travel, and Out Travelerand his work appears in a variety of collections, including Men on Men 5, Best Food Writing 2001, and Through the Lens: National Geographic Best Photographs.
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