“With Jewelweed, David Rhodes has once more produced a moving, deeply thoughtful novel, of poor people doing difficult things often against their best interests in a little town in the upper Midwest. He is the same writer, maybe better, as the author of Driftless. A lovely book.” —Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights Bookstore (Iowa City, IA)
“A benevolent sort of rural American magical realism . . . profound.” —Publishers Weekly
“David Rhodes takes seemingly mundane events, and makes them magic. The glimpses into the everyday made spectacular through his telling, and his ability to let you see the world through another set of eyes. He truly gets you into his characters, and leaves you feeling like you’ve got a new set of friends looking out for you. Jewelweed has been my first foray into his writing, but will certainly not be my last.” —Jack Hannert, Brilliant Books, Traverse City, MI
When David Rhodes burst onto the American literary scene in the ’70s, he was hailed as “a brilliant visionary” (John Gardner). In Driftless, his “most accomplished work yet” (Joseph Kanon), Rhodes made Words, Wisconsin, resonate with readers across the country.
Now with Jewelweed this beloved author returns to the same out-of-the-way community and introduces a cast of characters who must overcome the burdens left by the past. After serving time for a dubious conviction, Blake Bookchester is paroled. As Blake attempts to adjust, he reconnects with Danielle Workhouse, a single mother whose son, Ivan, explores the woods with his precocious friend, August. While Danielle goes to work for Buck and Amy Roebuck in their mansion, Ivan and August befriend Lester Mortal, a recluse who lives in a melon field; a wild boy; and a bat, Milton. These characters — each flawed, deeply human, and ultimately universal — approach the future with a combination of hope and trepidation. Jewelweed offers a vision in which the ordinary becomes mythical, the seemingly mundane transformed into revelatory beauty.
David Rhodes grew up near Des Moines where he attended a Quaker School. He dropped out of Beloit College in the 60′s and eventually graduated from Marlboro College in Vermont. After receiving an MFA in Writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1971, he published three novels in rapid succession to acclaim: The Last Fair Deal Going Down (Atlantic/Little, Brown, 1972), The Easter House (Harper & Row, 1974), and Rock Island Line (Harper & Row, 1975). A motorcycle accident in 1976 left him paralyzed from the chest down. He continued writing, but did not publish again until 2008 when his novel, Driftless, was published. It received a Milkweed National Fiction prize, was read on Wisconsin Public Radio, and was chosen as an All Iowa Reads selection. Milkweed has reissued all of his previous books. He currently lives with his wife, Edna, in Wisconsin.