Cast Away Stones

In Schinnow’s novel, a young farmer is willing to risk everything he loves in an attempt to save it.
Frederick Heinold’s mother died when he was 9 years old. Because of the loss, he bonded closely with his father, Emmett, resulting in a passion for farming that laid the framework of his life. Though he had always admired his father, he hadn’t realized what a consummate farmer Emmett was until 10 years after his death, when Frederick faces difficult challenges and has few resources to alter the bleakness of his future. He overextends himself purchasing expensive equipment and renting additional acres to farm in hopes of winning back the respect of his wife, Joann, whom he married five years earlier. Joann is a city girl, and though she initially loved Frederick for his common sense, she soon resents the hardships of farm life. She begins to travel daily to Lime City, sometimes staying overnight with her mother and eventually finding a job as a real estate agent. Two men strongly challenge their marriage: Eldon Mathews, a neighbor Joann admires for being a highly successful farmer (whom Frederick remembers as the school bully and who now wants his land), and Miles Richards, a handsome con man who quickly seduces his way into Joann’s bed and then into her savings. Set in rural Iowa, debut author Schinnow’s novel successfully captures the mood of the 1970s directly before the farming crisis, the outcome of which was the consolidation of land and the specialized farming of corn and soybean. Schinnow exposes the recklessness of the new generation of farmers for whom debt is common and the tenet “tried and true” no longer holds value. Though many of Frederick’s neighbors are affected, Frederick becomes lost as he searches to redefine himself. As Schinnow poetically writes: “His arms sculled back and forth like insufficient wings. He was flying over a land that lay far below. If he faltered, he would sink in a languid, spiral (sic) until he touched down like an exquisite ballerina. Would his memories follow? It would be nice not to remember.”

A cautionary tale of broken dreams and lives gone awry.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615601991

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Shell Rock River Press

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2014

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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