The University of Wisconsin Press

Fiction / Wisconsin


Contemporary Wisconsin Fiction
Edited by Raphael Kadushin

Terrace Books

Short stories from some of Wisconsin's best contemporary writers

Though the best American writers live everywhere now, a popular fiction persists: our strongest literary voices are strictly bi-coastal ones. Barnstorm sets out to disprove that cliché and to undermine another one as well: the sense of regional fiction as something quaint, slightly regressive, and full of local color. The stories in this collection capture our global reality with a ruthless, unaffected voice.

Lorrie Moore's "The Jewish Hunter" is a dark romance that's by turns cynical and guileless. Mack Friedman catches the smoking feel of first love in his "Setting the Lawn on Fire," and Jesse Lee Kercheval's "Brazil" is a raucous, ultimately mournful road trip. For Jane Hamilton, Wisconsin is a gorgeous but bittersweet homecoming, and for Kelly Cherry, in her achingly elegiac "As It Is in Heaven," it's the hopeful new world, juxtaposed with a bleak, tweedy England. Dwight Allen's "The Green Suit" evokes the young man edging toward adulthood, in a New York that's as flamboyant as an opera, and Tenaya Darlington, in her "A Patch of Skin," constructs a pure horror story, because the horror of loneliness is something we all know. Together Barnstorm's eclectic voices suggest that every coast now, even the Great Lakes' shores, are at the very center of our best, and truest, national literature.

"If there is one identifiable quality that does mark these stories as Midwestern it may be their sense of autonomy —the fact that their authors have found their own place in that world—and their lack of pretension. All good writers eventually develop their own voice but any writer living in Wisconsin finds independence quickly, because there is no local culture club dictating style, and there is none of the intense literary rivalry that forces urban writers to keep looking over their shoulder for emerging fashions. Because they are living in a place that isn't consumed by trends or momentary culture-making—one of the reasons so many artists move here—heartland writers can soak in a quiet that lets them develop their own style. Don't mistake lack of pretension, though, for that butch, flat, faux Hemingway style that is a pretension in itself, or any kind of earthy, pioneering sensibility. In fact, a lot of these writers wouldn't know a cornfield from a wheat field. What an independent style really means is that you're writing a story guilelessly, so that your only impulse is to tell the story as truly as you can."—from the introduction to Barnstorm

The Terrace Books logo is designed in the shape of a book with a Union chair in silhouette on the cover. The words Terrace Books, Madison, Wisconsin appear also.

Raphael Kadushin is humanities editor at the University of Wisconsin Press, editor of Wonderlands: Good Gay Travel Writing, and a contributing editor at Bon Appétit magazine. He contributes to a wide range of publications—among them National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Condé Nast Traveler, Town & Country Travel, and Out Traveler—and his work appears in a variety of collections including Men on Men 5, Best Food Writing 2001, and Through the Lens: National Geographic Best Photographs.

Contributors: Dwight Allen, Dean Bakopoulos, Margaret Benbow, Anthony Bukoski, Kelly Cherry, Tenaya Darlington, Mack Friedman, Jane Hamilton, John Hildebrand, Jesse Lee Kercheval, J. S. Marcus, Judith Claire Mitchell, Lorrie Moore, Ann Shaffer and Ron Wallace

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

A publicity press kit is available at Barnstorm press kit.

the cover of Barnstorm is a strange evocative diarama where a suburban American family is stranded in the snow, or have they been arrested by the ominous plastic paramilitary policeman?

February 2005
LC: 2004024340 PS
336 pp.    6 x 9

Book icon
Paper $19.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-20854-7
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout

Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated March 15, 2010

© 2010, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System