Merit Badges (AWP Award for the Novel)

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9781936970032: Merit Badges (AWP Award for the Novel)

Winner of the AWP Award for the Novel

Follow four friends as they move from The Brady Bunch to Seinfeld, from junior high to middle management. There is Quint, whose rebellion frays into self-destruction; Slow, who struggles to become the world’s first teenage father figure; Chimes, who fears losing his friends while picking up a 7-10 split; and Barb who escapes the conformity of Minnisapa only to find herself returning by dark of night. You will feel as if you’ve always lived in Minnisapa, Minnesota. And you will never underestimate nice kids from the Midwest again.

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About the Author:

KEVIN FENTON lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota and works as an advertising writer and creative director. His fiction has appeared in the Northwest Review, the Laurel Review, and the Emprise Review. His writing on graphic design has been anthologized in Looking Closer 2 and Emigre No. 70: The Look Back Issue. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.

From Publishers Weekly:

An impressive vitality, droll wit, and affecting nostalgia lift Fenton's first novel about four high school pals growing up together during the 1970s in the fictional town of Minnisapa, Minn.: Chimes Sanborn, ex–Boy Scout and ace bowler; Quint King, a "stoner" who tries to prove he can "letter in recreational drug use"; Barb Carimona, a sensitive music lover, who discovers their town was named after "a blot of ink" by an Indian "making a joke at the stupid white guy's expense"; and Slow Slocum, a jock from a dysfunctional family. Fenton tracks their lives up through their first postgraduate decade, which doesn't always turn out as they planned or hoped. Perhaps the gloomiest outcome is Barb's aborted stays in New York City and Chicago before her return home to work as a convenience store cashier. In a sweet romantic interlude, Slow proposes to his girlfriend while sitting atop a Ferris wheel. Eminently readable prose makes it easy to forgive an inconclusive ending. (Jan.)
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