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Driftless

por David Rhodes

Séries: July Montgomery (2)

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
3932449,444 (4.05)50
Driftless is an unforgettable story of contemporary life in rural America. Words, Wisconsin, home to a few hundred people yet absent from state maps, comes richly to life by way of an extraordinary cast of characters. Among them, a middle-aged couple guards the family farm from the mendacious schemes of their milk cooperative; a lifelong invalid finds herself crippled by her resentment of and her affection for her sister; a woman of conflicting impulses and pastor of the local Friends Church stumbles upon an enlightenment she never expected; a cantankerous retiree discovers a cougar living in his haymow, haunting him like a childhood memory; and a former drifter forever alters the ties that bind a community together. At once intimate and funny, wise and generous, Driftless marks the triumphant return of a significant American writer.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 24 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Words is a tiny town in the middle of the Driftless area of southwest Wisconsin, a place where the glaciers didn't move through and flatten the land. The inhabitants of Words represent varying degrees of drift themselves; some seem to be wandering through live without an anchor, while others are very firmly tied to the land and the local way of life. I loved this novel, both for the beautifully drawn characters and how their stories all come together in different ways, and for the lovely rendition of this area of Wisconsin. Having grown up on a farm and also having lived in the Driftless for nearly a decade, I can attest that Rhodes' depiction of farm life, life in SW Wisconsin, and the people who inhabit the two is 100% accurate and lovingly told. I have only a couple of very minor quibbles: there's one character whom I can't stand and so the sections of the book focused on her were not to my taste, and there were bits here and there that seems to drag and could have used some editing. Otherwise, though, a fantastic novel. ( )
  electrascaife | Jul 22, 2021 |
Wisconsin has a Driftless region between LaCrosse and Madison, so named as untouched by glaciers. Its fictional residents in the town of Words are more drifting in place, satisfied with hard farm or factory work and harsh weather but each with private ideals just out of reach. Several modest plot strands follow friends and neighbors of July Montgomery, a mysterious stranger who quickly plants deep roots. The narratives merge with at a relaxed, satisfying pace and their interconnected lives explain their fierce connection with this end-of-the-road spot, which forces so many compromises from what seems like an uncompromising group. "Driftless" shares its locale with the recent, well received "Jewelweed," and reading it on a relaxed Wisconsin visit has me ready for the sequel's return trip.
  rynk | Jul 11, 2021 |
That Midwestern area that didn't collect geological drift seems clogged with human drift, a diminuative town full of almost adults who can't seem to keep their lives tracked without July Montgomery. Gloriously written, with human characters, but the plotting is fantasy and I'm not the audience for the transcendent stuff. ( )
  quondame | May 8, 2021 |
"Gail sang her song again and was again lifted up by the accompaniment, borne away to a place where plastic factories, unpaid bills, human cruelty, flat tires, and leaking hot water heaters did not exist." (Page 290)

Welcome to Word, Wisconsin. You won't soon forget it. David Rhodes has written a novel that made me cry not once but three separate times automatically rating it five stars in my book. Narrated in alternating chapters by several of the residents of this tiny, nearly forgotten town, the author makes clear that life here is hard and what holds it together is the tenacity and loving spirit of these complicated characters. July Montgomery, a hardscrabble farmer, is the center of this world and his kindness and joy covers everyone with an invisible sense of hope.

Cora and Grahm operate a small dairy farm and, like all small farmers, depend on the honesty of the co-op to sustain their income. Jacob Helm, grieving widower, runs a repair shop that everyone relies on for one thing or another. Olivia, wheelchair bound and her sister Violet Brasso don't often see eye to eye but their love for each other is strong. Gail Shotwell works the night shift at the local plastics factory but aspires to be a songwriter. Rusty Smith, retired farmer and all around hard working grouch, discovers untold happiness when he gives in and allows the Amish to make some home improvements for him and his wife, Maxine. He also discovers he harbored a secret that had taken many years to reveal itself. And Winifred Smith is the pastor of Words Friends of Jesus Church, where most of the characters end up.

All the characters represent the hardest working people you will ever know and Rhodes brilliantly depicts them through the use of beautiful prose that had me busily marking passages like:

"Late had recently become a habitual companion in a more general condition of dread."

And Old Age was carefully preserved in the furniture, the artfully organized clutter on the walls and shelves, and the odor of some prehistoric mold culture ingeniously nurtured to withstand modern antiseptic cleaning methods and modernity itself."

And each of these finely drawn characters experiences an epiphany of one kind or another that changes their life completely. All except July, which makes his importance in the novel even more clarifying.

An absolutely wonderful book with enduring characters and I'm scratching my head wondering how I let it sit on my shelves for over ten years. Thanks so much to Mark for getting me to read it. If you decide to give it a try it would be easy to skip the chapter containing the dog fights which was the only negative passage to me. ( )
4 vote brenzi | Feb 27, 2021 |
The problems is
that by the time July Montgomery drives his tractor to the silo,
he is too real to let go of.

Like The Cougar!

Review would have been 5 Full Stars if David Rhodes' editor had steered him in a direction away from the hideous dog fight.

Many readers may stick with "Here we go round The Mulberry BUSH..." - even though, yes, it is a Mulberry Tree,
a tree that resembles a bush when it grows.

Hidden box. Hidden Bomb. ( )
  m.belljackson | Feb 25, 2021 |
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Driftless is an unforgettable story of contemporary life in rural America. Words, Wisconsin, home to a few hundred people yet absent from state maps, comes richly to life by way of an extraordinary cast of characters. Among them, a middle-aged couple guards the family farm from the mendacious schemes of their milk cooperative; a lifelong invalid finds herself crippled by her resentment of and her affection for her sister; a woman of conflicting impulses and pastor of the local Friends Church stumbles upon an enlightenment she never expected; a cantankerous retiree discovers a cougar living in his haymow, haunting him like a childhood memory; and a former drifter forever alters the ties that bind a community together. At once intimate and funny, wise and generous, Driftless marks the triumphant return of a significant American writer.

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