A delightful novel about a zany, lovable cast of characters and their goings-on in one tiny Wisconsin community.
Craft’s (Name Games, 2013, etc.) novel about Dumont, Wisconsin, is part portrait of a small, Midwestern town, part crime mystery, and part gay romance. The book centers on the colorful, distinctive town’s residents: Glee Savage, the gossipy “intrepid gal reporter” for the local paper; Marson Miles, a 60-year-old, married, closeted gay architect who finally comes out by falling for his wife’s nephew Brody Norris; Ted Norris, Marson’s business partner, whose wife Peg suddenly has a bout of “dissociative amnesia”; Mary Questman, the elderly “reigning dowager,” who funds local arts and construction projects; and Sheriff Thomas Simms, a strapping police officer who has won the town’s affection. There are several loosely connected storylines here. The bulk of the narrative tracks Marson and Brody as they fall in love and build both a professional and romantic life together. It also follows Prucilla Norris, Marson’s former wife, as she navigates the world as a newly single woman. All in all, Craft re-creates the inner workings of a realistic, fascinating small town. Dumont is rife with busybodies, blatant racists, scandalous relationships, and even its fair share of mysterious crimes. The book is laugh-out-loud funny, if silly at times, and the author deftly incorporates weightier topics like sexuality, aging, and political corruption into larger, more humorous plotlines. Ultimately, the only flaw in the book is that it’s perhaps overstuffed with likable characters and entertaining plotlines. Many of the episodes—Peg Norris’ amnesia episode, Prucilla’s handling of her divorce, and the perplexing crime involving Walter Zakarian, the “region’s largest flooring and carpeting” specialist—feel like they could be the focus of their own novels.
Ultimately a rollicking and engaging book about a tiny town, with a successful balance of intrigue, humor, and poignancy.