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These powerful stories limn the complexities and dilemmas of life in Kansas, a state at "the center of the center of America," as a billboard in one story announces. Andrew Malan Milward explores the less visible aspects of the Kansas experience―where its agrarian past comes into conflict with the harsh present reality of drugs, fundamentalism, and corporatism, relegating its agrarian identity to museums and amusement parks.
Presented in a triptych, the stories in Milward's debut collection range across a varied terrain, from tumbledown rural barns to modern urban hospitals, revealing the secrets contained therein.
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A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Andrew Malan Milward is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has served as a McCreight Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University, a Writing Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a Resident Artist at the Santa Fe Art Institute. His fiction has appeared in many places, including Zoetrope, The Southern Review, Columbia, Conjunctions, and Best New American Voices 2010. He lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he is a Visiting Writer at the University of Southern Mississippi.Review:
"The 10 gorgeous stories that make up this Juniper Prize-winning debut collection from Milward, a Kansas native and Iowa M.F.A. graduate, offer unique glimpses into Midwestern calamities and the folks who find themselves affected by them. In Milward's world, there's nary a sunny sky in sight, with characters who are "all reversed in some ways, our lives shading backwards like the shadows on the moon." But this gloominess is greatly buoyed by the author's poetic prose and a pitch-perfect eye for detail, resulting in one tender, tragic portrait after another. STARRED REVIEW"―Publishers Weekly
"The ten stories in Andrew Malan Milward's The Agriculture Hall of Fame are set in "the center of America": Kansas. And they are all, in their own unique ways, wild, hopeful, and devastating. So much is communicated in so little―a story that barely makes three pages packs a gut punch or two along the way."―ForeWord
"Two sons struggle to understand their Vietnam Vet father. A mother rejects her meth-addicted son. A farmer's life becomes tied―fatally―to his barn. A brother and sister speak with heartbreaking humor about everything but the cancer killing her. These beautiful stories, ranging the cities and towns of Kansas from Ulysses to El Dorado, are as intimate and compassionate as they are unflinching. Andrew Malan Milward has made of the Sunflower State a doorway into the American soul."―Naeem Murr, author of The Perfect Man
"Andrew Malan Milward is an exceptionally gifted and mature storyteller, attentive to the intricacies of character and place. There's no showing off here, no macho posturing, no coy evasion, no attention-demanding voice or ploy. This debut collection is wise, patient, vivid, and deep. One gets the impression that these stories were written slowly and with great care. Further, one gets the refreshing impression that the author sincerely needed to write them."―Chris Bachelder, Juniper Prize contest judge and author of Abbott Awaits: A Novel
"The Kansas of The Agriculture Hall of Fame is brokedown, hardluck country. Andrew Malan Milward's precarious, paralyzed people are lost in place, and know it, alternately circling and fleeing the center of the center of America. As one says, 'Out here, everybody's crazy with looking for something.' Wry and sad, this is a fine debut collection."―Stewart O'Nan, author of The Odds
"Andrew Malan Milward is a subtle writer with an unsparing eye and a heart as vast as a prairie. The ten stories in his first book, The Agriculture Hall of Fame, are graceful evocations of loss―of fathers and first loves, of lakes and sisters, of the rusting midwestern heartland one sees from a bus window as it pulls away. An evocative debut from a writer to cheer for."―Lauren Groff, author of Delicate Edible Birds: And Other Stories and Arcadia
"Milward's characters are so colorfully drawn, so carefully and deliberately described, that there appears always to be hope; a second chance is just around the corner, there is some glorious redemption just beyond the pages we are given."―The Rumpus.com
"I'm clearly biased about the 'place' of these stories, but the stories stand up. They're not just good Kansas stories; they're good stories period. I can't wait to see what Milward does next."―TheStoryIsTheCurse.blogspot.com
"With The Agriculture Hall of Fame, Milward often embraces the archetypes of Midwestern life while at the same time refusing to be defined by them, and in the end, the collection feels Midwestern, yet at the same time, it feels like an incredibly strong group of stories, no matter where they happen to take place."―Word/Sound
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