This book has had such great rewards that it’s paid for itself many times over. Of course, this is coming from a Wisconsonite, who will soon be driving, like one of the rotating first-person POVs, through the Dells, north through the pinelands towards Eau Claire, to pick up my son at UW-Eau Claire. But even if the physical terrain is unfamiliar, the psychic landscape of these 30-something characters will hit home, resoundingly. Is every voice of the rotating narratives convincing rather than uniformly literary? No, but cut Nickolas some slack. He tells the story with such warmth and heart that quibbles are soon forgotten. This is a book which beckons you back to it like a warm fireplace on a Wisconsin winter night. Cozy up and enjoy.
P.S. Went to hear Nickolas read here in Madison on May 6 at the new public library to a group of about 60 people. He did a nice job, reading for about a half hour (the wedding scene, if you’re curious) before answering questions, mostly about the intersection of his life and his fiction. He had glowing things to say about his two-year stint in Iowa City at the Writers Workshop and was very down-to-earth — just a grown-up small-town boy.