Synopses & Reviews
In the Nebraska Sandhills, nothing is more sacred than the bond of family and land—and nothing is more capable of causing deep wounds. In Pamela Carter Joern's riveting novel The Floor of the Sky, Toby Jenkins, an aging widow, is on the verge of losing her family's ranch when her granddaughter Lila—a city girl, sixteen and pregnant—shows up for the summer. While facing painful decisions about her future, Lila uncovers festering secrets about her grandmother's past—discoveries that spur Toby to reconsider the ambiguous ties she holds to her embittered sister Gertie, her loyal ranch hand George, her not-so-sympathetic daughter Nola Jean, and ultimately, herself. Propelled by stark realism in breakneck prose, The Floor of the Sky reveals the inner worlds of characters isolated by geography and habit. Set against the sweeping changes in rural America—from the onslaught of corporate agribusiness to the pressures exerted by superstores on small towns—Joern's compelling story bears witness to the fortitude and hard-won wisdom of people whose lives have been forged by devotion to the land.
“[Jackalope Dreams] gives us an example—if any is required—of why fiction is still necessary and what it uniquely offers. . . . Sentences seethe with urgent, unhurried energy, and the description of the land the author so clearly loves is in service of the story, not showing off. You come to care deeply about these people, caught between an uncapturable past and an uncertain future. Jackalope Dreams is a small masterpiece.”—Paul Wilner, Los Angeles Times Book Review Paul Wilner
“Nothing less than stunning: a story beautifully told, characters richly conceived and developed, lessons subtly delivered. . . . It is the poetry and preciseness of Blews writing that set Jackalope Dreams apart from others of its ilk. Hers is storytelling of the highest order.”—Sherry Devlin, Missoulian Los Angeles Times Book Review
"In Blew's commendable fiction debut . . . [the author's] distinctive narrative voice and knack for description keep the story on track."—Publishers Weekly Sherry Devlin - Missoulian
“Blew knows how to fuse the rugged with the delicate—some readers may be reminded of Plainsong author Kent Harufs no-nonsense approach.”—John Mark Eberhart, Kansas City Star Publishers Weekly
“Engrossing. . . . Blew gets so much right, from her beautiful, clear prose to her sharp humor to her rich characterizations. . . . Jackalope Dreams satisfies.”—Jenny Shank, NewWest.net John Mark Eberhart - Kansas City Star
"When Mary Clearman Blew reaches her stride, I dare you to put this book down."—C. K. Crigger, Roundup Magazine Jenny Shank - NewWest.net
The departed men in her life still have plenty to say to Corey. Her father, a legendary rodeo cowboy who punctuated his lifelong pronouncements with a bullet to his head, may be the loudest. But in this story of Montana—a story in which the old West meets the new and tradition has its way with just about everyone—it is Coreys voice we listen to. In this tour de force of voices big and small, sure and faltering, hers comes across resonant and clear, directing us to the heart of the matter.
Winner of the 2008 Western Heritage Award, Jackalope Dreams plays out against the mythology of the Old West—a powerful amalgam of ranching history, Marlboro Men, and train robbery reenactments. This story of the newly orphaned, spinsterish Corey is a sometimes comical, sometimes poignant tale of coming-of-age a little late. As she tries to recapture an old dream of becoming a painter—of preserving some modicum of true art amid the virtual reality of modern Montana—Corey finds herself figuring in other dramas as well, other, younger lives already at least as lost as her own.
About the Author
Mary Clearman Blew is the author or editor of numerous books, including three books of short stories and the memoir This Is Not the Ivy League (Nebraska 2011). She is a professor of English at the University of Idaho and has twice won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, once in fiction and once in nonfiction, as well as the Western Literature Associations Distinguished Achievement Award.