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Bohemian Girl (Flyover Fiction)by Terese Svoboda
Synopses & Reviews
Young Harriets father sells her as a slave to settle his gambling debt with an eccentric Indian—and her story is just beginning. Part Huck Finn, part True Grit, Harriets story of her encounter with the dark and brutal history of the American West is a true original. When she escapes the strange mound-building obsession of her Pawnee captor, Harriet sets off on a trek to find her father, only to meet with ever-stranger characters and situations along the way. She befriends a Jewish prairie peddler, escapes with a chanteuse, is imprisoned in a stockade and rescued by a Civil War balloonist, and becomes an accidental shopkeeper and the surrogate mother to an abandoned child, while abetting the escape of runaway slaves.
A picaresque in the American vein, Terese Svobodas new novel is the Bohemian answer to Willa Cathers iconic My Ántonia. Lifting the shadows off an entire era of American history in one brave girls quest to discover who she is, Bohemian Girl gives full play to Svobodas prodigious talents for finding the dark and the strange in the sunny American story—and the beauty and the hope in its darkest moments.
"At the onset of the Civil War, in 'the Christian Year of Our Lord 1861,' a 12-year-old girl meets a bitter fate when her father loans her to an elderly Pawnee Indian to settle a debt. That the debt came from losing a foot race to the mouth of a river 'too thick to drink, too thin to plow' only makes matters worse. The girl joins other slaves and indentured servants who do an Indian Mound builder's work, spending their days hobbled, crafting heaps of sand, clay, and bone. But when she realizes that the Indian has no intention of releasing her as promised, she frees herself from her rawhide ties and heads east in search of her family. Calling herself Harriet, she narrates her grim odyssey in a poetic, convincing, but relentless voice. Still, Harriet's observations of the world and her small place in it are insightful and often touching. And Svoboda (Trailer Girl and Other Stories) often displays a poet's touch with language and imagery. Part of the University of Nebraska's Flyover Fiction series, edited by Ron Hansen. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Its been a year since the body of seventeen-year-old Kelsey Little was found in the river outside Dark Vespers, Nebraska. Although the town may have reached an uneasy equilibrium, those who loved her most have certainly not: Javier Martinez, her troubled ex-boyfriend and the father of the child no one knew she was carrying; Sam and Hank, her parents, whose marriage is coming apart under the pressure of grief and not-knowing; and Ike Parrish, a reclusive eccentric whose clairvoyant “river spells” compel him to come forward with information about Kelseys disappearance and death.
A prismatic look at the impact of loss on individual lives, Water and Abandon tells the moving and paradoxical story of those brought together by the very thing that tears them apart. Haunted by Kelseys death, each struggles with his or her own demons of blame and guilt, despair and fury—until one, in a confusion of pain, grief, and unrequited love, decides to do something dire. As deeply felt as it is finely crafted, the novel confirms Robert Vivians place among the most interesting fiction writers of our day.
Early July, and the corn in eastern Nebraska stands ten feet tall; after a near-decade of drought, it seems too good to be true, and everyone is watching the sky for trouble. For the Grebels, whose plots of organic crops trace a modest patchwork among the vast fields of soybeans and corn, trouble arrives from a different quarter in the form of Elsas voice on her estranged sons answering machine: “Your fathers dead. Youll probably want to come home.”
When a tractor accident fells the patriarch of this Mennonite family, the threads holding them together are suddenly drawn taut, singing with the tensions of a lifetimes worth of love and faith, betrayal and shame. Through the competing voices of those gathered for Haven Grebels funeral, acts of loyalty and failures, long-suppressed resentments and a tragic secret are brought to light, expressing a larger, complex truth.
About the Author
Terese Svoboda is the author of five volumes of poetry and four novels, including Tin God (Nebraska 2006); a collection of short stories, Trailer Girl and Other Stories (available in a Bison Books edition); and a nonfiction book, Black Glasses like Clark Kent: A GIs Secret from Postwar Japan, winner of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize.
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