Last Saturday I was terribly irresponsible and instead of writing lessons like all good teachers do on weekends, I drove two hours north, into the Driftless. There, I visited a you-pick apple orchard, stopped by an art fair, and ate a cider apple doughnut. Yum!
The countryside was gorgeous, little farms peeking out from the hollows between the rolling hills, narrow roads winding through the last of the wheat and along the rivers. The trip inspired me to start David Rhodes’s novel Driftless.
Rhodes writes of life in the Midwest better than any writer (I know) save Marilynne Robinson. I started with Jewelweed, his most recent novel, buying it at Eighth Day Books last summer even though I’d never heard of it; it had a gorgeous cover, the bookshop owner recommended it; and it was set in my area of the country. Since then, I found Rock Island Line at a used bookstore and bought that too, so Driftless, set twenty years after Rock Island Line was the natural continuation.
Here’s an excerpt:
Jacob lay on his back. The stars looked back at him from ten million years ago, their light just now arriving. He wondered if there were other places in the universe where the rules of living did not require feeding on each other – where wonder could be discovered without horror and learning the truth did not entail losing one’s faith.
Unwilling to go back home and face the ordeal of trying to sleep, Jacob continued in the direction the youth coyote had taken, west.
He often walked at night and was familiar with the woods, streams, and valleys for miles around, including the heavily forested area inside the reserve. He knew which families owned dogs, where coon hunters hunted, the narrow ravine with a corn mash still boiling in late summer, and where the local militia – forty or fifty armed men – held meetings at night.
Here’s a link to its Goodreads page.
And in case you missed the last Teaser Tuesday post: This is a (semi) weekly series I’m doing, posting an excerpt from a randomly-selected page in whatever book I’m reading. More info here. Feel free to chime in with whatever book you’re reading!