Fireweed

Fireweed

by Mildred Walker, Annick Smith
     
 

Mildred Walker was immediately recognized for the quality of her first fiction in 1934. Fireweed won the prestigious Avery and Jule Hopwood Award. The setting is a small lumber town in Upper Michigan, the stomping grounds of Paul Bunyan and the giants of Swedish, German, and Finnish lore. Young Celie and her husband, Joe Linsen, are the children of

Overview

Mildred Walker was immediately recognized for the quality of her first fiction in 1934. Fireweed won the prestigious Avery and Jule Hopwood Award. The setting is a small lumber town in Upper Michigan, the stomping grounds of Paul Bunyan and the giants of Swedish, German, and Finnish lore. Young Celie and her husband, Joe Linsen, are the children of Scandinavian pioneers. Radios and flivvers have enlarged her world, and she longs to escape from an isolated place where wild violet fireweed grows to the edge of the woods.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
"The background, the history of the lumber industry and the Depression which deals it what looks like a death blow, is closely and adroitly woven into the warm and human fabric of the narrative."—New York Times
Saturday Review of Literature
"Simple and natural prose combines with local color that is not 'worked up' to produce a narrative of clarity and agreeable smoothness such as many veterans of fiction never attain, yet this excellence is not the chance by-product of mere naivete. The characters are fully rounded, thought out from the depths of actual experience, and the incidents of a disarmingly unpretentious story, not without some pleasing passages of sentiment, are carefully chosen for the light they shed on these people."—Saturday Review of Literature
Nation

"The words and the sentences fall in place with ease and naturalness and inevitability."—Nation
Books
"Sure and vivid. . . . It adds another distinctive picture to the gallery of regional America."—Books
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Getting out of one's too-confining hometown is the lifelong dream of more than a few, and so it is with Celie Henderson, the paler, Swedish version of Dreiser's Carrie Meeber in Walker's long out-of-print 1934 novel. Celie lives and works with her family in the Michigan mill town of Flat Point, but has dreams of brighter lights in Milwaukee and Detroit. Celie chooses mill worker Joe Linsen for her husband, breaking off a dubious courtship with Arthur Farley, a piano-playing, juke-joint aficionado brought in by his uncle to take over mill operations. She spends most of her time agonizing over her decision, prodding Joe to look for a job in the city, fretting over the hard life and harsh winters in Flat Point. Ultimately, Celie must decide between the simple pleasures of her two children and sturdy Joe, and her yearnings for the city and finer things. Walker's novel is a thrilling dime-store page-turner, filled with sharply drawn characters and details--Celie is often seen in a bright green Sears catalogue dress and opera pumps, even in the snow. Only when Walker stretches toward the metaphorical does her novel falter. When ice blocks the road out of town, Celie becomes hysterical: `` `Joe, it's like you said, look; we couldn't get out if we wanted to.' Celie laughed a thin, harsh laugh that ended in a dry sob.'' Still, watching the couple as they grow, have children and come to accept each other will send the reader rocketing from front cover to back. Illustrations. Nebraska, which published Walker's Winter Wheat last season, will also be publishing her The Curlew's Cry this month. (May)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803297586
Publisher:
UNP - Bison Books
Publication date:
04/28/1994
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
314
Sales rank:
677,667
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Meet the Author

Annick Smith is a freelance writer, editor, and filmmaker. Her story, "It's Come to This," appeared in Best American Short Stories, 1992. She was coeditor, with William Kittredge, of The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology. Her film credits include Heartland (executive producer) and A River Runs Through It (coproducer).

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