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Jersey Flats

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  • Posted October 19, 2010

    Hauschild is Two for Two

    It can be interesting to discern what authors use to create the dramatic course of their novels. Often times, it is one huge event: a murder or the beginning of a war. The catalyst for other plots can be seemingly simple occurrences. In Richard Curtis Hauschild's latest work, Jersey Flats, he starts the dramatic action with three apparently unrelated events. The first comes from a question: ". do you know a veterinarian who does owls?" The second is the introduction of a cougar who ". had turned north into the heartland of Wisconsin where white tail deer are abundant and easy to hunt." The third is a decision where "Leah's eyes got big in the way travelers do as they contemplate the mythical road. 'Yeah, let's drive to Wisconsin.'" Jersey Flats is, like its predecessor The Ledge, set in Wisconsin on the southern and eastern shores of Lake Winnebago and the surrounding area known as the Holylands. The same interesting cast of characters that was introduced in the first novel is in place including Molly Costello, her daughters Melanie and Sonia, Meg Bollander, Pat Stirling, and the essence of Roland Heinz. A fascinating new character, Bim Stoeffer, is portrayed as someone who ".mostly lived in the garage, where he spent most of his hours sitting in a lawn chair watching the world go by." The construction of the novel is similar to the first with each chapter beginning with a first person narration from Molly and then the rest of the chapter is told by a third person narrator who keeps switching back and forth between multiple story lines of tragedy, young love, redemption, and fulfillment. The same humor, insight, and compassion that the first book displayed are definitely in place, perhaps even slightly more polished. At the end the story resolves itself in, of all places, Bim's garage where he "for a moment . mistook Wisconsin for Heaven." This is a wonderful novel.

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