The Agriculture Hall of Fame: Stories

The Agriculture Hall of Fame: Stories

by Andrew Malan Milward
     
 

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These powerful stories limn the complexities and dilemmas of life in Kansas, a state at "the center of the center of America," as a billboard in one story announces. Andrew Malan Milward explores the less visible aspects of the Kansas experience—where its agrarian past comes into conflict with the harsh present reality of drugs, fundamentalism, and corporatism

Overview

These powerful stories limn the complexities and dilemmas of life in Kansas, a state at "the center of the center of America," as a billboard in one story announces. Andrew Malan Milward explores the less visible aspects of the Kansas experience—where its agrarian past comes into conflict with the harsh present reality of drugs, fundamentalism, and corporatism, relegating its agrarian identity to museums and amusement parks.

Presented in a triptych, the stories in Milward's debut collection range across a varied terrain, from tumbledown rural barns to modern urban hospitals, revealing the secrets contained therein.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The 10 gorgeous stories that make up this Juniper Prize-winning debut collection from Milward, a Kansas native and Iowa M.F.A. graduate, offer unique glimpses into Midwestern calamities and the folks who find themselves affected by them. Set in Kansas, these sensitively painted tales collectively evoke the prairie life in shades of gray, with the characters becoming the only splashes of color on a purposefully muted canvas. Two sons struggle to lessen the gap between their young lives and that of their father, an emotionally scarred man who retreats to his barn to recall better days, in “Quail Haven, 1989.” The title story beautifully marries the hopes and delicacies of animal husbandry with the impermanence and sadness of life and love. Elsewhere, two Wichita State college buddies wistfully reunite as adults, in “John” and a brother struggles to make peace with a sister navigating a terminal disease in the crushingly poignant “The Cure for Cancer.” In the moving “Ulysses,” donating blood floods the narrator’s mind with memories of his childhood friend, a fat, sensitive boy “who was sick with diabetes and had to prick his fingers a dozen times a day.” Ulysses is both the boy’s name and the town’s, and Milward in this brief story effortlessly distills so many of the traumas of youth. In Milward’s world, there’s nary a sunny sky in sight, with characters who are “all reversed in some ways, our lives shading backwards like the shadows on the moon.” But this gloominess is greatly buoyed by the author’s poetic prose and a pitch-perfect eye for detail, resulting in one tender, tragic portrait after another. (June)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558499485
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date:
05/31/2012
Series:
Juniper Prize for Fiction
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

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