by Jim Heynen
Through 64 short stories, readers meet a group of farm boys who possess all the trouble-making talents of most young boys, yet they recognize and are in awe of the world’s tiny miracles. The boys throw tomatoes at passing cars and make coat sails to carry them down a frozen road. Yet, they feed apples to a blind pony, teach a three-legged dog to shake hands, and rescue pigs from an unexpected blizzard. They also build a house out of junk cast aside by adults, “the boys’ house”. In their adventures, they encounter an unforgettable cast of characters that readers soon meet: the goose lady, the girl at school with six toes, the man who kept cigars in his cap, Spitting Sally, crazy Uncle Jack, and dozens more.
Critics have said Heynen’s tales are as uniquely American as the writings of Mark Twain, and this book was chosen as an “Editors’ Favorite Books of 2001” by The Bloomsbury Review. Nick Fauchald of Minnesota Monthly wrote, “Heynen’s book is a masterful peephole into the young male psyche and the family farm culture.”
Heynen grew up on a farm in Iowa, but now lives in Minnesota and is a Writer-in-Residence at St. Olaf College.