for Kent Meyers
State Book Award winner
& Noble Discover Great New Writers
York Times Notable Book of the Year
"Intelligent and intuitive--a very promising writer."
"Kent Meyers evokes his people with fierce compassion. In these spare and
elegant tales, stark beauty is the merciful counterpoint of sorrow."
"Written with simple, poetic dignity and a savvy for the land that can only come from
having been raised up in it with eyes wide open."
--Sam Shepard (for WITNESS OF COMBINES)
"Meyers tells stories with precision and joy. He understands how the rhythms of
the land bind farmers, give them hope and purpose."
Hasselstrom (for WITNESS OF COMBINES)
"...like [Eudora] Welty and her neighbor William Faulkner--and Louise
Erdrich and Lewis Nordan after them--Kent Meyers has claimed his own
postage stamp of territory: the small farm town of Cloten,
Minnesota....Throughout this collection, Meyers demonstrates a fine eye
for detail and a good ear for language, but he never indulges in wordplay
merely for its own sake, never lets it distract him from his real
job--revealing what lies in his characters' hearts....Like its great
predecessor, "Winesburg, Ohio," "Light in the
Crossing" speaks eloquently of isolation in the midst of community,
but also of the possibility of belonging."
--New York Times Book Review
who writes with biblical intensity, returns to the small Minnesota town
of Cloten, the setting of his novel The River Warren , in this
collection of interlocking stories. He portrays farm people who possess
an intimate understanding of death and the stoicism of those who
routinely face the unexpected: the obliteration of a blizzard, ruined
crops, a child's fatal accident. In the astonishing title story, two
bored young men play "Cornfield Roulette," racing in the dark
with their headlights off through the green tunnels late summer corn
builds over gravel roads. Violence is always in the offing, whether it's
the tough decision to shoot a beloved dog after it slaughters the
family's chickens, or the slow percolation of revenge in the fairy
tale-like "The Smell of the Deer." Attuned to the confusions
of young boys, the deep loneliness and poverty of rural life, and the
love of the land that makes it all bearable, Meyers renders midwest life
mythic in its tragedies and privations."
debut collection of 12 stories, all set in rural Minnesota, by western
novelist Meyers (The River Warren, 1998). Meyers's selection of Cloten,
Minnesota, as the focal point of his narrative influences the texture as
well as the background of his tales: Cloten is little more than a
collection of adjoining farms, a flat expanse of midwestern geography
all but unknown to outsiders. Most of the lives it contains are as bleak
as the landscape, if Meyers is any guide: ``Two-Speed,'' for example, is
a funereal recollection of a mean-spirited old man who raised three
equally bad-natured sons to grow up to become the terror of the town.
``A Strange Brown Fruit'' describes a local farmboy's coming of age,
initiated by his contact with a wounded rabbit outside his parents'
house. ``Wind Rower,'' from the separate perspectives of his neighbor,
his mother, and a local fireman, portrays the freakish death of a farmer
in his thresher. ``Glacierland'' is a very moving (and aptly named)
account of a middle- aged farmer's attempt to come to terms with
mortality in the wake of his wife's death. ``Abiding by Law'' provides
an eerie diagram of Cloten's jagged connection to the outside world
through the misunderstandings that arise between local inhabitants and
German refugees whove settled in the area, and ``Bird Shadows'' offers a
highly elegiac account (``The pull of land is like a black, black tide,
a strong black moon over thick black water, water so thick one walks
upon it and carries it forever upon one's heels, water like a glue'') of
a boy who can't get away from the family farm however much he might want
to. The title story describes a rather macabre form of ``chicken''
played out on rural roads by a young man during the summer following his
father's death. A small gem: Gloomy to an extreme, but marvelously paced
and told with great restraint and practiced skill.
[for THE RIVER
"An insightful inspection of local life and its discontents. . .
Borrowing from Our Town and Rashomon, Meyers uses his first novel to
dissect Cloten and its citizens."
--The New York Times Book Review
"Entertaining and brilliantly written. . . As stunning
in its use of language as it is touching in its human revelations."
--The Denver Post
"Skillful and sensitive first novel. . . Meyers achieves a
simplicity of expression that conveys the arc of grief and
Kent Meyers's first novel, The River Warren,
brought him wide critical acclaim for deftly conveying the intricate
world of a small farming community. Now with Light in the Crossing,
Meyers returns to his fictional town of Cloten, Minnesota, to explore a
way of life that's dying out in America.
this wise and graceful short-story collection, each character is
intimately linked to the land in and around Cloten. We meet a woman who
returns home to care for her family's farm after years of absence, a man
whose obsession with bow hunting affects his life in complex ways, a
farmer's son who plays a dangerous game of drag-racing roulette, and a
Harley-riding corn husker. In all of these stories Meyers examines the
secrets that family members keep from one another, and the tales that
pass between men and women living in rural communities.
moving, and ultimately uplifting, Light in the Crossing is a
beautifully crafted portrait of the relationships people in farming
towns build with one another and the land on which they depend.
Cloten, Minnesota, just might
be Kent Meyers's Yoknapatawpha--his literary home ground and the center
of an entire imagined universe. Life in this rural community can be
brutally difficult; winters are long, farms teeter on the verge of
financial collapse, and violence is never far from the surface. Meyers's
debut novel, The
followed the ugly life and cataclysmic death of Two-Speed Crandall,
Cloten's notorious town drunk. Several stories in Light in the
Crossing explore the same territory. In "Two-Speed,"
Crandall's death is retold from yet another point of view, while in
"Making the News," a sculptor finds himself obsessed with
re-creating the fatal accident. Like a local myth, Two-Speed's life
bears repeating again and again, until Cloten's inhabitants can solve
the paradox of someone who makes a fine bar story but a less than fine
man. Other stories follow two young men playing a dangerous game of
chicken, a farmer's wife who has to shoot the family dog, and a man who
learns to grieve his wife by struggling to rid his land of a stubborn
shelf of rock. Read together, the individual voices in these tales blend
into a communal whole--like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, the voice of
Cloten by turns passes judgment and forgives. Meyers is a fine writer
whose prose is as austere yet as lovely as the Minnesota prairie. But
the real achievement here lies in his exploration of the ties that bind
Cloten as well as the loneliness that divides it. In taking apart what
makes this little town tick, Meyers shows just how complicated the
simple life can be.
Rights: Contact Lukeman