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.
©2008 David Rhodes; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"The best work of fiction to come out of the Midwest in many years." (Chicago Tribune)
"Rhodes illuminates the wisdom acquired through hard work, the ancient covenant of farming, and the balm of kindness. Encompassing and incisive, comedic and profound, Driftless is a radiant novel of community and courage." (Booklist)
Sadly, this audiobook just didn't grab my attention. Characters are introduced in depth, and you expect to go on a journey with them, but their stories are abruptly abandoned. You have a feeling of being hard done by.
This is one of the best listens I've encountered in a long time. For me the writing ranks among giants like "Cold Mountain" (Charles Frazier) and "East of the Mountains" (David Guterson). David Rhodes' command of the English language approaches the poetic, and his economy of expression is such that not one word is wasted on frivolous description or exaggerated emotion. I would normally subtract a star for this ending - I thought it just barely established the characters in kind of a stable oasis, and the narrative could have used just one or two more sentences. It seemed the writing stopped rather abruptly and could have used a few more words - just a few - to cushion the blow. But that opinion is hardly enough to detract from this work of elegant fiction. Can't wait to read it again, now that I know the characters better!
For those who crave a bigger life essence, the kind found in community, here is "Driftless." Go to your favorite reading chair, sit back and relax. Take a deep breath and exhale your present inner "situation". You are in for a story. There's a lot going on in Words, Wisconsin. Wait till you meet everybody!
"A riveting tale from everyday small-town life"
Driftless is the polar opposite of cruel power struggle sagas like the Game of Thrones. It may seem ridiculous to compare this book to that wildly popular fantasy series, but as a reader who mostly reads stories about epic conflict, I really appreciated this gentle tale.
The story follows a half dozen or so characters through their daily lives in a tiny rural town. The author's talent shows, because he created three dimensional characters that you care about. At the same time, there is plenty going on in the people's lives that keeps you interested in what is going to happen next, despite the fact that there is no arch-villian, or any epic struggle to save world. The events in the book matter, and we get to see how the characters change over the course of the story because of the interactions between them. I cannot remember reading a book where the characters are so real that you feel like you know them personally. I've read so many books where the protagonists are just vanilla super-awesome people. Much of the time it seems in such novels that they just projections of the author's ego.
As I have just read on Wikipedia, the author, David Rhodes, has been paralyzed from the chest down since a motorcycle accident in 1977. Now I'm thinking about some of the characters and events from the book in a new light.
I very much recommend listening to this book. You will not regret it.
"A little slow"
Nicely written and performed, but meandering. Some interesting character profiles but not much of a plot arc. If you like well written and descriptive portraits of people and natural scenes you'll like it, but if you need a compelling story to keep you interested I would skip it.
"Great character development"
This was my first book on Audible. The ability to shift formats from sound to print in a seamless fashion will forever change my reading life.
David Rhodes is a master of description and character development. I really cared about these characters and wanted to follow their stories and experiences. He has a lively imagination putting characters in situations that I could not imagine and brings in humor.
"A Quiet Masterpiece"
This book is completely beautiful. Rhodes paints the driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin with a delicate hand that captures its beauty and its metaphysical power. Every character, whether it's a mysterious cougar, a cross old farmer, a fighting dog, or a brilliant woman in a wheelchair, is perfectly drawn and someone you'd like to know. The plot is at once pastoral and also suspenseful and driving forward - compelling, but with the volume turned down to a whisper, asking you to lean in.
Rhodes' personal story is equally compelling and an interesting harmony with this book.
"Happily drifted through Driftless"
I loved the slow pace (what I would call a slow pace) and integration of quirky characters. The individual character's stories had a nice way of bumping up against each other, creating a collage of oneness.
"One of the best books ever"
This is one of those stories that resonates deeply, where characters seem so real that we feel like we know them.
Although it can get a bit "wordy" at times, overall this book was a great listen. Lloyd James is an excellent narrator, too. One of the characters was always interjecting "Land Sakes!" into her speech and it just cracked me up every time she said it.
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