Spirits in the Grass

Spirits in the Grass

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by Bill Meissner
     
 

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“Meissner has the storyteller’s gift for creative living characters, living speech, living emotions, living drama. He knows his small town baseball, but beyond that, he knows the human spirit.” —Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried
 
“In Spirits in the Grass, Meissner

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Overview

“Meissner has the storyteller’s gift for creative living characters, living speech, living emotions, living drama. He knows his small town baseball, but beyond that, he knows the human spirit.” —Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried
 
“In Spirits in the Grass, Meissner explores the hidden heart of America’s Midwest—scratching hard at his character’s dreams to release their nightmares, their truths. His words are supple as grass, his language a graceful dance that is a pure joy to read.” —Susan Power, author of The Grass Dancer
 
“This novel is a rare achievement, an extraordinary story of a man’s desire to resurrect his past, to redeem and restore the world he knew as a boy, while he confronts the crimes around him. Juxtaposing baseball, Native American history and religion, and small town life, Meissner has created a genuine original.” —Jonis Agee, University of Nebraska, author of South of Resurrection and The River Wife
 

“Bill Meissner’s Spirits in the Grass is nothing short of stunning, his mastery of the prose is evident in virtually every sentence as it intensifies and heightens the intrigue of the wonderful story being told. This is a vibrant and original novel, a triumph, and Meissner’s linguistic veracity places him among the finest prose stylists writing today.” —Jack Driscoll, author of How Like an Angel
 
In Spirits in the Grass we meet Luke Tanner, a thirty-something baseball player helping to build a new baseball field in his beloved hometown of Clearwater, Wisconsin. Luke looks forward to trying out for the local amateur team as soon as possible. His chance discovery of a small bone fragment on the field sets in motion a series of events and discoveries that will involve his neighbors, local politicians, and the nearby Native American reservation. Luke’s life, most of all, will be transformed. His growing obsession with the ball field and what’s beneath it threatens his still fragile relationship with his partner, Louise, and challenges Luke’s assumptions about everyone, especially himself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“In Spirits in the Grass [Meissner] has linked personal and racial history and identity, intimate drama and outright mystery, and the awakening of romance and self-awareness. That's a lot to bring together. . . . But while the mayor flails around . . . and Luke learns something about himself, and the town of Clearwater comes to terms with its shady past and uncertain future, the spirits in the grass rise and assemble, murmuring a truth impervious to villainy, easy psychological insight, and cliché.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“An accomplished literary writer crafts a resonant Midwest baseball novel centering on the drama that results when work building a baseball field in a small Wisconsin town uncovers evidence of the area’s Native American past. Luke Tanner, longtime baseball player who makes the discovery, finds his life altered. Meissner has a gift for creating real people on the page.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Novels about baseball or small-town life often fall prey to a too-easy sentimentality and a tendency toward soft-focus prose. Meissner tackles both these topics but, remarkably, avoids both flaws. Luke is a thirtysomething dreamer living a desultory life in a small Wisconsin town and wishing his high-school baseball career hadn’t ended. Now he’s helping build a new ball field and hoping to get a second chance in a local amateur league. But when he finds bone shards in the turf, it appears that the field may be a Native American burial ground; caught between representatives of the local Indian tribe, who want to purify the ground, and the town’s mayor, who wants to protect his plans for a new highway, Luke sees his dream fading yet again. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Louise, is fed up with the town and with Luke’s inability to keep his mind out of the ‘dream-smeared sky.’ Meissner handles all his story lines—the centerfielder manqué, the ‘spirits in the grass,’ the troubled romance, the fight with city hall—with admirable subtlety, sidestepping the multiple clichés that can so easily attach themselves to all of these themes. This is a quiet novel but an emotionally powerful one, rich with ambiguity and with the scent of felt life.” — starred review in Booklist

Spirits in the Grass delves into the cultural tension between Native Americans and Caucasians and seeks to expose the ugliness of racism and the violent aftermath such racial hatred can leave in its wake. Meissner's creativity with words delights the senses and brings to life the book's small-town, Midwestern setting.” —Minnesota Literature Newsletter

Spirits in the Grass is part mystery and part romance, but mostly, it is the story of life’s ebb and flow in a small Midwestern town and of one man’s place in it. Meissner’s evocative description and strong characterization bring the story to life for the reader.” —Multicultural Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780268035136
Publisher:
University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date:
09/15/2008
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Bill Meissner has won numerous awards for his writing, including PEN/NEA Syndicated Fiction Awards. He is the author of two previous books of fiction, Hitting into the Wind and The Road to Cosmos (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), and four books of poetry, including American Compass (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004). He is Director of Creative Writing at St. Cloud State University.

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Spirits in the Grass 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Revisiting his stalwart themes of the father-son dynamic, baseball, and the small town ethos, Meissner navigates new territory in the very sensitive theme of American Indian-White relations--specifically that of indigenous burial rights--with both even-handedness and self-honesty.