The Book of Famous Iowans: A Novel

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9781609382667: The Book of Famous Iowans: A Novel
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Will Vaughn, a man of late middle age living in Chicago with his second wife, remembers the month of June 1957 in his hometown, the rural village of New Holland, Iowa. More precisely, Will remembers just a few days of that month and the quick sequence of astonishing events that have colored, ever since, the logic of his heart and the moods of his mind. He tells of his stunningly beautiful young mother, Leanne, who liked to recall the years of the Second World War, during which she sang with a dance band in a lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He tells too of his father, Lewis, a soldier in the war who one night saw the “resplendently sequined” Leanne step onstage and began at that instant to plot his courtship of her.
 
But mostly what Will summons up in his intimate remembrance are those few catastrophic days in early June when he was “three months shy of twelve,” more than a decade after his parents have married and returned to the Vaughns’ home place, where Lewis farms his family’s land. For it is during those days that Leanne’s affair with a local man named Bobby Markum becomes known―first to Lewis and then, in a fiercely dramatic public confrontation, to young Will, to his beloved Grandmother Vaughn, and by nightfall to all the citizens of the town. The knowledge of such scandal, in so small a place, sets off a series of highly charged reactions, vivid consequences that surely determine the fates of every member of this unforgettable family.
 
A tale of memory and hero worship and the restless pulse of longing, The Book of Famous Iowans examines those forces that define not only a state made up of a physical geography, but more important, those states of the wholly human spirit.

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About the Author:

Douglas Bauer is the author of several books, including What Happens Next? Matters of Life and Death (Iowa, 2013), Prairie City, Iowa: Three Seasons at Home (Iowa, 2008), The Stuff of Fiction: Advice on Craft, and three novels, Dexterity, The Very Air, and The Book of Famous Iowans. His edited works include Death by Pad Thai and Other Unforgettable Meals and Prime Times: Writers on Their Favorite TV Shows. He lives in Boston and teaches literature at Bennington College.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Young novelist Bauer (The Very Air, 1993; Dexterity, 1989) offers, for our third helping, a rural coming-of-age tale that could hardly taste more overcooked had it been left on the stove all night. Its Writers' Workshop notwithstanding, Iowa is not the usual destination of choice for the young and the ambitious. So when LeAnne Vaughn's husband Lewis brings her back to his family's farm in New Holland, she has to take her time adjusting. LeAnne was a small-town singer who grew up in Wyoming with big things on her mind--until she met Lewis in the bar in Cheyenne where she sang. At the time, he had been in the Army, and the world seemed filled with possibilities to both of them. After Lewis's father is killed in a tractor accident, he decides to take over the family farm--a fatal error, as it turns out. Leanne's son Will narrates the story, many years after the incidents in question, mingling recollections of his own sad life with incidents from his mother's. He explains how the free-spirited Leanne discovers too late that the prairie village of New Holland is inhabited mainly by staunch churchgoing farmers who rarely sing and never dance or smoke at all. The only roguish figure in town is Bobby Markum, pitcher for the local baseball club, and LeAnne takes to him like a drowning swimmer to a life preserver. Bobby and LeAnne manage to be discreet for a while, but eventually everyone knows. The inevitable catastrophes ensue. Bauer succeeds in portraying the inner lives of his characters with extraordinary clarity and precision, but he somehow fails to extract much genuine drama out of such evidently dramatic scenarios. His overwrought prose doesn't help. And the narrative device of concentrating largely on events that took place during one brief period of Will's youth gives a more maudlin than mature air to the proceedings. Precious and overdone. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780805060027: The Book of Famous Iowans: A Novel

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ISBN 10:  0805060022 ISBN 13:  9780805060027
Publisher: Owl Books, 1998
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9780805043006: The Book of Famous Iowans: A Novel

Henry ..., 1997
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Book Description University of Iowa Press, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Reissue. Language: English. Brand new Book. Will Vaughn, a man of late middle age living in Chicago with his second wife, remembers the month of June 1957 in his hometown, the rural village of New Holland, Iowa. More precisely, Will remembers just a few days of that month and the quick sequence of astonishing events that have coloured, ever since, the logic of his heart and the moods of his mind. He tells of his stunningly beautiful young mother, Leanne, who liked to recall the years of the Second World War, during which she sang with a dance band in a lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He tells too of his father, Lewis, a soldier in the war who one night saw the "resplendently sequined" Leanne step onstage and began at that instant to plot his courtship of her.But mostly what Will summons up in his intimate remembrance are those few catastrophic days in early June when he was "three months shy of twelve," more than a decade after his parents have married and returned to the Vaughns' home place, where Lewis farms his family's land. For it is during those days that Leanne's affair with a local man named Bobby Markum becomes known-first to Lewis and then, in a fiercely dramatic public confrontation, to young Will, to his beloved Grandmother Vaughn, and by nightfall to all the citizens of the town. The knowledge of such scandal, in so small a place, sets off a series of highly charged reactions, vivid consequences that surely determine the fates of every member of this unforgettable family.A tale of memory and hero worship and the restless pulse of longing, The Book of Famous Iowans examines those forces that define not only a state made up of a physical geography, but more important, those states of the wholly human spirit. Seller Inventory # BTE9781609382667

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Book Description University of Iowa Press, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Reissue. Language: English. Brand new Book. Will Vaughn, a man of late middle age living in Chicago with his second wife, remembers the month of June 1957 in his hometown, the rural village of New Holland, Iowa. More precisely, Will remembers just a few days of that month and the quick sequence of astonishing events that have coloured, ever since, the logic of his heart and the moods of his mind. He tells of his stunningly beautiful young mother, Leanne, who liked to recall the years of the Second World War, during which she sang with a dance band in a lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He tells too of his father, Lewis, a soldier in the war who one night saw the "resplendently sequined" Leanne step onstage and began at that instant to plot his courtship of her.But mostly what Will summons up in his intimate remembrance are those few catastrophic days in early June when he was "three months shy of twelve," more than a decade after his parents have married and returned to the Vaughns' home place, where Lewis farms his family's land. For it is during those days that Leanne's affair with a local man named Bobby Markum becomes known-first to Lewis and then, in a fiercely dramatic public confrontation, to young Will, to his beloved Grandmother Vaughn, and by nightfall to all the citizens of the town. The knowledge of such scandal, in so small a place, sets off a series of highly charged reactions, vivid consequences that surely determine the fates of every member of this unforgettable family.A tale of memory and hero worship and the restless pulse of longing, The Book of Famous Iowans examines those forces that define not only a state made up of a physical geography, but more important, those states of the wholly human spirit. Seller Inventory # AAN9781609382667

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Book Description University of Iowa Press, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Reissue. Language: English . Brand New Book. Will Vaughn, a man of late middle age living in Chicago with his second wife, remembers the month of June 1957 in his hometown, the rural village of New Holland, Iowa. More precisely, Will remembers just a few days of that month and the quick sequence of astonishing events that have coloured, ever since, the logic of his heart and the moods of his mind. He tells of his stunningly beautiful young mother, Leanne, who liked to recall the years of the Second World War, during which she sang with a dance band in a lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He tells too of his father, Lewis, a soldier in the war who one night saw the resplendently sequined Leanne step onstage and began at that instant to plot his courtship of her.But mostly what Will summons up in his intimate remembrance are those few catastrophic days in early June when he was three months shy of twelve, more than a decade after his parents have married and returned to the Vaughns home place, where Lewis farms his family s land. For it is during those days that Leanne s affair with a local man named Bobby Markum becomes known-first to Lewis and then, in a fiercely dramatic public confrontation, to young Will, to his beloved Grandmother Vaughn, and by nightfall to all the citizens of the town. The knowledge of such scandal, in so small a place, sets off a series of highly charged reactions, vivid consequences that surely determine the fates of every member of this unforgettable family.A tale of memory and hero worship and the restless pulse of longing, The Book of Famous Iowans examines those forces that define not only a state made up of a physical geography, but more important, those states of the wholly human spirit. Seller Inventory # AAN9781609382667

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