Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Letters from Wheatfield by Patrick Shannon

Montanans have a reputation for telling tall tales. Some cheerless individuals accuse them of downright lying. Sad to say, that is just the attitude of people who place no value on whimsy. Folks in Montana do spin imaginative yarns, but the author draws attention to an element that must be considered: the line between their fabrications and the truths that inspired them is, indeed, often a tenuous one. Sometimes, as the hilarious tales in Letters From Wheatfield reveal, the facts of small town life in Montana rival the fancy of their outlandish stories. Which parts are real, and which parts are fibs? The reader will have great fun trying to decide.

The fictitious town of Wheatfield, Montana is a tiny island in a vast sea of wheat fields and cattle ranges. Its nearest neighboring towns, similarly small, are well over the horizon. But its isolation has no effect on the spirit of its inhabitants. Theirs is a society of mirthful, blithe, spritely wags - a condition abetted by the presence of not a few eccentric individuals. In Letters From Wheatfield, two transplants from Manhattan write to a cousin back home about the remarkable community that has assimilated and transmuted them - much to their amazement and great pleasure.

The stories provide a rich buffet from which one may select repeatedly as one's taste-du-jour bids: The level of sophistication required to really meddle in other people's business; The "Dirty Bomb" incident at the Fill-Ups gas station; The 4H project that produced a mutant Brussels Sprout, and why it did not make it into the Wheatfield Book Of World Record Vegetables; The Senior Citizen outing with hell-raising bikers; The World's Greatest April Fool joke - with a touch of treachery; The scandal of Reverend Sycamore's fall from grace and his redeeming revelations; Albert Einstein's shocking plagiarism of a Montana boy's work. These are but a small sampling of the tantalizing victuals.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars.   The idea that the story evolves in the form of letters was fun and resulted in a swift read with great flow.  You really did feel as if you knew these characters, as you knew the town characters in Gilmore Girls.  This is a lovely light summer read and is recommended for someone looking for a lighter fiction read worthy of a long, hot afternoon.

★★☆☆ = Liked It


Sun Singer said...

Eccentric people tend to stand out in small towns, possibly because there's not a large enough crowd to get lost in, and there aren't a lot of other attractions to catch one's attention. This book looks like fun.


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